Comcast Charges Toll For Netflix Delivery

The largest broadband backbone provider in the world says Comcast has set up a tollbooth, charging it a fee to deliver Netflix content to Comcast customers. “This action by Comcast threatens the open Internet and is a clear abuse of the dominant control that Comcast exerts in broadband access,” said Level 3 in a statement.

Here’s the deal: recently Level 3 outbid Content Delivery Network provider Akamai to handle bringing streaming Neflix video.

Lacking leverage, Akamai paid Comcast a traffic delivery fee. Level 3 doesn’t want to keep paying the fee. Comcast says they better pay the toll, or they can’t cross their bridge.

Comcast called Level 3’s claims “duplicitous,” saying, “Comcast has long established and mutually acceptable commercial arrangements with Level 3’s Content Delivery Network (CDN) competitors in delivering the same types of traffic to our customers. Comcast offered Level 3 the same terms it offers to Level 3’s CDN competitors for the same traffic. But Level 3 is trying to gain an unfair business advantage over its CDN competitors by claiming it’s entitled to be treated differently and trying to force Comcast to give Level 3 unlimited and highly imbalanced traffic and shift all the cost onto Comcast and its customers.”

Industry analyst Dave Burstein told Consumerist, “The Justice Department should step in with antitrust.”

“As far as I know, no primary backbone provider like Level 3 has ever been required to pay to deliver traffic to another major carrier. Payments have only been required from smaller carriers who are not truly “peers.”

“In particular, Comcast’s claim their charge to a backbone provider is ordinary “paid peering” is bs. The details of Comcast’s claims would mean they collect a fee from every bit, especially video over the Internet unless it’s sent by AT&T or Verizon. AT&T and Verizon would of course gladly collect fees for video to their customers as well.”

The news is the latest salvo in the Net Neutrality battle and comes at a time when Comcast is under regulatory scrutiny the merger it is eager to make with NBC. Some, including publishers of this blog, Consumers Union, say the proposed merger would limit consumer choice and increase prices.

Comcast Starts Online Video `Toll Booth,’ Netflix Supplier Says [Bloomberg]
Comcast Comments on Level 3 [blog.comcast.com]
Level 3 Communications Issues Statement Concerning Comcast’s Actions [Press Release]

Comments

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  1. obits3 says:

    “You shall not pass!”

  2. crazydavythe1st says:

    Wonder what Frank is doing these days.

  3. Mr. Fix-It says: "Canadian Bacon is best bacon!" says:

    You done goof’d, Comcast.

  4. FreshPorcupineSalad says:

    Well, the internet was fun while it lasted..

    *Brought to you by Carl’s Jr.*

  5. Gman says:

    So let me get this right. Comcast is asking Netflix to pay for bandwidth. They then turn around and ask me to pay again for that same bandwidth?

    Wow. Gotta love forced monopolies in communities. They get away with everything

  6. McRib wants to know if you've been saved by the Holy Clown says:

    If the backbones stop communicating, the internet will die.
    Comcast appears to have taken it’s ‘insane’ pill I see.

  7. tresser says:

    um, just say you can’t stream to comcast users, and then cut them off.

    *comcast users that care will go somewhere else
    *comcast will raise prices to remaining subscribers
    —causing them to leave
    *comcast either finally goes away or stops charging fee.

    it’s win/win

    • FreshPorcupineSalad says:

      What if Comcast is the only broadband internet provider in your area? See monopoly comment above.

      • catnapped says:

        Well then you MOVE.

        Or something like that….

        /sarcasm

        • MeOhMy says:

          I used 1 Mbps DSL for a few years until Fios was available simply because it was not Comcast. They may not be ideal options, but there are options.

      • ClaudeKabobbing says:

        Exept we all know that most peeps are too stupid to leave.

      • Donathius says:

        I wish I had another option. Comcast is the ONLY viable option in my area. I can get 1.5 Mbps DSL via Qwest, but there’s no way I’m dropping below 5 Mb service ever again. The sad part is that every other home in my neighborhood has a fiber to the home provider but for some reason my house wasn’t hooked up along with everyone else (this was about 5 years ago – I just moved in back in August). The really sick part is that the fiber actually runs through my yard.

    • suburbancowboy says:

      I agree. If Netflix tells Comcast users that they can’t have Netflix, because of Comcast, those people will be pissed off, and Comcast will be forced to cave.

    • Zerkaboid says:

      I wish it were as simple as simply choosing another provider, but some of us are stuck and have been stuck with the monopoly of the area. (I’ve got Cox now in Virginia, but they’re just as bad as when I had Comcast in Pennsylvania). I live just a few miles from Washington DC how can I not have FiOS available???

      • pecan 3.14159265 says:

        Because it takes a lot of money and digging to put down fiber optics. I wish I could have FiOS too.

        • Mecharine says:

          Most fiber optic cables have already been laid. The companies are sussing about who will pay to install fiber to the “last mile”, which is often installation into buildings and private homes. At this point it should be a right of the community to lay down that last mile cabling , instead of waiting for TopHat PennyPincher to dawdle about like an unstable gyro.

      • Oranges w/ Cheese says:

        Same, my only option here is satellite (HOOOORRRRIIBBLLLE LATENCY) or 3mbps dsl. Neither is a great option.

        • YouDidWhatNow? says:

          Me too. Satellite is a horrific fail…even when it’s working. Which it frequently wasn’t.

          3mb DSL isn’t the greatest…but it works fine for us.

          The cable company got to our area a couple years ago…but when I looked at what they offered for internet, it wasn’t any better than the DSL we were getting, and was more expensive to boot.

      • Awesome McAwesomeness says:

        What about Clear? We use them and they are great. No problems after a solid year.

  8. macoan says:

    I hate to see prices go up, but I still have some questions about this.

    So Level 3 – sites like Netflix and others pay Level 3 to have their traffic go through them – and now Level 3 has gotten extra money from Netflix for more data to travel through them, and Comcast now would also like a cut of that money? (again, maybe I did not understand the article)

    • JonathanR says:

      Level 3 is an internet provider to big companies. So like you pay Comcast or whoever for your internet, Netflix pays Level 3 for theres.

    • DrLumen says:

      The major ISP’s have ‘peering agreements’ which roughly state they don’t charge each other for transmission of the other carriers traffic. So, Level3 doesn’t charge AT&T or Comcast extra fees to carry the Comcast subscribers traffic and Comcast should not be charging Level3 for their traffic. Now, it appears like Comcast wants to change the rules and start charging L3 for their traffic. In essence saying that because L3 has more traffic they are now not a peer. In essence, if that is true, then L3 could start charging Comcast for all the data (not just Netflix equivalent traffic) that Comcast presents to them for carriage. IMO, Comcast is on a really slippery slope with this business stance.

      Finding that Akamai was kicking back to Comcast is a bit disturbing. I don’t know much about them but the more I hear the Akamai name it is not in a good context.

      • physics2010 says:

        Charges for traversing your network to other ISPs ok.
        Charges for delivering content to your own customers not ok.

  9. Loias supports harsher punishments against corporations says:

    I’m still trying to figure what the hell is wrong with the FCC. Looking at all the facts, net neutrality seems to be to be the most logical course or action, both from the freedoms/rights standpoint and from a U.S. as a technology leader standpoint. I know the obvious answer is they have greased pockets, but beyond that why in the hell have they not moved on this issue years ago when it first became a problem?

  10. ARP says:

    So, where’s my discount to receive the traffic since you’re charging L3 for to send the traffic? Comcast wouldn’t double charge for the same content, right?

    So, L3 charges Netflix more for CDN and then Netflix charges us more. If there only some type of law that said that you can’t discriminate or treat different types of internet traffic differently from others to prevent this kind of abuse. And I’m sure Comcast will be just as reasonable with Netflix when the merger of Comcast and NBC is complete.

    So, if you ever asked “why is this on Consumerist?” Here is your answer- it impacts the price you pay for Cable, Internet, and Internet TV.

  11. dragonfire81 says:

    Is this another one of those corporation vs corporation clusterfucks where consumers get screwed in the end?

    • Mr. Fix-It says: "Canadian Bacon is best bacon!" says:

      “In a closed society where everybody’s guilty, the only crime is getting caught. In a world of thieves, the only final sin is stupidity.”

    • Rachacha says:

      Isin’t it always the case. In this situation, I don’t care. I dropped Comcast a long time ago, and I have yet to jump on the Netflix train (I don’t have the time to watch movies). I do however know that the results of this match toll likely carry over to other services that I enjoy.

  12. Sword_Chucks says:

    Boo Comcast! BOOOO

    Remember that NBC thing you were trying to buy? Yeah, you may have just screwed that to hell with this action.

  13. slightlyjaded says:

    We absolutely need to hash out what kind of Internet we want, and we shouldn’t be leaving these decisions to the sole discretion of Comcast. But people are way too quick to simplify this stuff as a black-and-white issue. Netflix is a serious problem for service providers. At peak times it already makes up 20% of downstream Internet traffic in the United States, and it’s still in its infancy. If millions of people want to stream HD movies over the Internet, somebody has to pay to upgrade the broadband networks that were never built for this kind of traffic load. This is not a small problem. As much as everyone hates Comcast, they have a legitimate concern here.

    • DrLumen says:

      It is a complicated problem. However, if Comcast can’t handle the number of subscribers they have with the increase of network traffic on the horizon, either they need to re-examine their business or they need to invest in infrastructure to handle all their subscribers.

      Network bandwidth has always increased. Just a few years ago the problem was supposedly with pirating and torrents consuming 90% of all traffic. The issue with Netflix bandwidth is just the problem-du-jour with a still growing internet. If Comcast is not willing to step to do what it takes to keep their business and customers happy they should get out now. Like with us consumers, they can’t have something for nothing.

      • jessjj347 says:

        I agree. Just because Netflix is popular, it doesn’t mean that there wouldn’t be a host of other sites taking up that bandwidth. It’s just easy to target them, because they’re so popular.

        In addition, Comcast hasn’t been paying for infrastructure for years, but it’s the same as any corporation. They use our resources, e.g. roads, and then never pay for them. I don’t know the specifics about how much they invest in cable infrastructure, but I bet they have somehow dodged most of those costs as well (e.g. avoiding taxes).

        • slightlyjaded says:

          Comcast has absolutely been paying for infrastructure, where do you get that? You think Comcast could deliver dozens of HD channels, thousands of video-on-demand titles, and high-speed Internet service to millions of customers over their basic RF cable networks from 1998? I’m not trying to be a Comcast apologist here, but come on.

        • NeverLetMeDown says:

          They’ve spend $30BN on infrastructure in the past five years, and paid ~$11BN in income taxes, plus ~$5BN in franchise fees to towns and cities for the right to string their cable down rights of way.

      • slightlyjaded says:

        Comcast (and every other ISP) is already investing in network upgrades. The question is how they pay for those upgrades, which cost many billions of dollars. The problem is that under the current model, they have no way to recoup their costs.

        When ISPs upgraded from dial-up to broadband-grade infrastructures, for example, they could offer new services (i.e., high-speed Internet) to pay for those upgrades. Now, it’s other private companies that are making all of the profits from ISPs’ infrastructure investments, with ISPs left holding the bill. Saying “they should just step up and do it anyway” is not a solution.

        The fact of the matter is that in a world where more people are using the Internet for video services, the Internet becomes a whole lot more expensive. Somebody is ultimately going to have to pay the true cost to deliver this traffic.

        • MeOhMy says:

          They managed to corral $6.5 billion in cash for a majority stake in NBC…color me jaded but for as long as broadband has existed Comcast (and others providers, to be fair) has cried and cried that they are running the service at a loss and aren’t recouping the cost of their infrastructure investments. Comcast is booming. I would *maybe* believe that their consumer products are loss leaders that drive other areas of their business, but if that’s the case, it still rings hollow for Comcast to basically complain about their own business model.

        • PunditGuy says:

          Soooo… they sold me a 12 Mbps service that they can deliver — if I don’t actually use the service. And they never had the infrastructure in place to handle customers who actually use the service. Sounds like their problem to fix.

    • ARP says:

      No, the problem is that Comcast have been avoiding making an substantive infrastructure improvements to deal with what will inevitably be a more internet focused world (see also: cloud computing). They’re taking advantage of their monopoly, market position, lobbying, purchase of NBC, etc. to keep prices as high as they can and their service as low as they can. Without meaningful choice in many areas (and no choice for content when the NBC merger closes), they will continue to overcharge and underdeliver for at least 8 years. Why 8? Republican Congress, following by a likely Republican President, followed by another 2 years of lobbying to prevent changes.

      • NeverLetMeDown says:

        Really? They’ve been avoiding making a substantive investment? Really? Revenue over the past five years: $165BN. Operating expenses: $100BN (and before you say it, maybe $250MM of that was compensation for the top 20 managers).

        Out of the remainder, they spent $30BN on network investment, $11BN in interest, and $8BN in taxes. Remaining $14BN was profit.

        For every dollar of revenue, they spent about 60c on operating costs (mainly programming), 18c on the network, 7c on interest, 5c on taxes, and the shareholders kept about 10c.

  14. Cheap Sniveler: Sponsored by JustAnswer.comâ„¢ says:

    Maybe when the FCC approves the Comcast / NBC megatron, then Comcast will have more money. With that money they can buy Netflix, and stop using Level 3, cutting out the middle man.

    See? Comcast is just looking out for you, the consumer. Monopolies are good.

    • SecretShopper: pours out a lil' liquor for the homies Wasp & Otter says:

      did you mean voltron? although megatron, like comcast, is evil so i guess it works either way :)

      • Cheap Sniveler: Sponsored by JustAnswer.comâ„¢ says:

        No, when Comcrap/NBC takes over Netflix, THEN it would be “MegaVoltron”.

    • grucifer says:

      But this is about Level 3 using Comcast infrastructure… not the other way around.

  15. lemortede says:

    Holy Crap.
    This really scares me.
    What has always bothered me about companies wanting to charge a premium for certain traffic is that I am paying my ISP for access to the internet at a certain u/d speed. The website that I am accessing is paying their ISP for certain u/d speeds. Why should they charge to send traffic between each other. It would be like being charged to go from one state to another on the interstate..
    Its only a matter of time before your paying for a internet connection that gives preference to advertisers traffic.

    • Robofish says:

      Maryland has a toll right before you exit the state on 95….

      • Rachacha says:

        And Delaware has one on the same road right as you enter the state, so in a way it is kind of like phone cable providers. You have to pay to leave one state and pay to enter into a new state.

        • Cheap Sniveler: Sponsored by JustAnswer.comâ„¢ says:

          And lest we forget the New York State Thruway, which was supposed to be free after it was paid for. Yea, that worked out great. See what happens when you believe the politicians?

        • Red Cat Linux says:

          Delaware has one as you enter, and 10 minutes later a second one as you leave via the bridge, and a rest stop in between. That always seemed a tad greedy to me, simply because the I-95 corridor cuts through that narrow bit of Delaware.

      • peebozi says:

        you can get into NJ for free but you’ll actually want to pay, and have to pay, to get out!!!

        seriously though, i like NJ…exit 40 and lower on the GSP.

    • Donathius says:

      Well most backbone type ISPs (L3, Qwest, etc.) have peering agreements where they pay each other for the traffic that flow back and forth between their networks – cellular roaming works in a similar way. The thing is that they usually end up pretty close to being equal or they end up with something like “L3 sends Qwest $500 this month, Qwest sends L3 $450 the next.”

      This type of traffic is a straight up net neutrality argument. It’s kind of like the local mob guy coming into your store and saying “it would really be a shame if something were to happen to your store – you pay me and I’ll make sure nothing bad happens.” While Comcast may not specifically block Netflix streaming, the throughput from Netflix may suddenly start to suck if L3 doesn’t pay up.

    • ARP says:

      Yes, this is the whole reason for net neutrality. Of course, that’s no longer feasible given the incoming Congress. So, get ready to pay higher prices for your internet and to receive traffic like Netflix, Hulu, and cloud computing.

  16. Mike Zeidler says:

    How could Akami lack leverage? They are literally *everywhere* when it comes to content delivery. They’re so ubiquitous that until I read this article, I thought Akami was an upper-level web feature, like “.com”.

    • rekoil says:

      Akamai doesn’t have leverage because they only send traffic, they don’t consume traffic from anyone (in business parlance, they don’t provide “eyeballs”. As such, large carriers don’t want to carry traffic from Akamai to their users for free, even if doing so would give their users a better-performing internet.

  17. kylere1 says:

    The only things preventing net neutrality is a Vice President (and idiot) named Biden who is owned by the MPAA/RIAA (http://news.cnet.com/8301-13578_3-10024163-38.html) and the massive amount of bribery being practiced by companies like Comcast in the thinly veiled guise of ‘campaign donations’

  18. RickinStHelen says:

    I think a big unmentioned issue here is streaming video, be it Netflix, youtube, or others, threatens to crush the internet under its gluttonous appetite. Back in the old days, when dial up was the norm and servrs were few, most everyone could access the internet without problems because the amount of data carried was low. With exploding amounts of data and a fixed number of servers and capacity (through transmission), there will come a point that the very things we love about the internet overwhelm its capacity to deliver them. Comcast has expenses to build the infrastructure needed to deliver the content. So too do the companies that deliver the internet via DSL. So the question becomes, where do the transmission companies recoup investments and make a profit? It is either through increased use fees, or by requring content providers to pay a fee. Either way, the consumer will pay in the end. At some point, the consumer will have to pay the true cost of internet use, or the commercial side of the internet will collapse, leaving us without an internet as we know it today.

    • ldub says:

      …. or the system becomes nationalized like our highway system, phone lines, sewers and other public utilities.

      • DrLumen says:

        I know it’s not very popular and does have some drawbacks but I really hope that the internet is eventually considered a public utility or under some government regulations.

        The interstate highway system would be a good analogy. While not perfect, at least every farmer or landowner is not able to throw up tollbooths every few miles causing increased costs and slowdowns.

    • Oranges w/ Cheese says:

      Not really, its people not wanting to spend their tidy profits and not upgrading the infrastructure to be up to date that’s causing the “gluttonous” video issue.
      It is a lot of bandwidth, yes, but there’s no reason that I should have to suffer with crappy 3mbps DSL in this day and age when people 1000 feet down the street have 20mbps connections.

    • Milagro Beanwar says:

      Everybody is paying for their access at the point of entry, both Netflix and the consumer. Companies like Comcast simultaneously refuse to upgrade their networks and their offerings as they sue municipal broadband and other alternatives out of existence to protect their local monopolies. Right now, they have no incentive to do anything other than to ride their existing infrastructure for as long as they possibly can, collecting money hand-over-fist with minimal maintenance until the whole thing melts down. When it does, they’ll curse Netflix and people using Bittorrent, even though THEY were the ones that oversold their network and didn’t bother to upgrade it, choosing instead to buy themselves another yacht and a few more congressmen. And it won’t matter when it does melt down, because you’ll still have no alternative. It’s funny when you think about it… the broadband monopolies will have us waiting for our packets like an old Soviet bread line. Eff you, Comcast.

  19. ldub says:

    This is why the broadband/cable network needs to become government owned. Just like telephone lines, highways, etc….

  20. Blueskylaw says:

    But think of how low that fee will be when the Comcast/NBC deal go through. There will be huge savings due to “synergy” and all of the savings will go towards lowering cable rates.

  21. brianisthegreatest says:

    I don’t even know what to say about this. If cdn’s are paying for carrier access, I don’t see what the problem is with Level 3. I think this issue does however shed light on a situation that should have been handled differently from the start to manage expectations. This argument should have been had before now. Obviously the whole business in general defeats the purpose of net neutrality. I would think if they’re willing to pay any money they’re absolutely ruining it for themselves.

    If Comcast customers want access to another network, that should come out of the Comcast customer’s bill. Another company shouldn’t be paying for their content to reach someone’s doorstep. What in the hell is their ISP bill for if that is the case? We are talking about very low level networking here, so I’m not sure I could make a totally accurate statement on how it is done or how it should be done. Data transmission by a comcast customer should be paid for by a comcast customer. If Level 3 needs bandwidth from comcast this is obviously a no brainer and they should pay up.

    • jessjj347 says:

      I see your point, but why is it that Comcast is allowed to cap bandwidth selectively? Wouldn’t they just do the same thing with Netflix?

  22. Cheap Sniveler: Sponsored by JustAnswer.comâ„¢ says:

    Hey, lets all leave comments on Comcrap’s “blog” and see if even one of them is ever posted!

    http://blog.comcast.com/2010/11/comcast-comments-on-level-3.html

  23. ravana says:

    I think it’s Akamai – http://www.akamai.com/

  24. Skellbasher says:

    This is strictly a peering issue between Level3 and Comcast. It has nothing to do with neutrality.

    • Cheap Sniveler: Sponsored by JustAnswer.comâ„¢ says:

      Really?
      If comcast decides to charge, well, whatever it decides, then comcrap is indeed choosing what traffic it allows – what if you can’t pay what the gatekeeper demands? I guess then comcast’s customers don’t see your content.

      • steve6534 says:

        They would see the content as soon as L3 paid someone else for the transit cost to get to Comcast’s network. Do you think AT&T or someone else would carry it over for free ? This is 100% a peering dispute and has nothing AT ALL to do with net neutrality.

    • MMD says:

      Charging different rates fro different kinds of traffic has *everything* to do with neutrality.

      • DanRydell says:

        They’re not charging different rates for different kinds of traffic, they’re charging based on volume. Level 3 is being disingenuous by making it seem like Comcast is discriminating against Netflix traffic. They’re doing that to get the masses riled up and put pressure on Comcast. This has nothing to do with net neutrality.

  25. simonster says:

    Ironically, Comcast is currently paying Level 3 communications for transit.

  26. Rocket says:

    Yet another reason to stay FAR AWAY from Comcast. It’s not Comcastic.

    • Mr. Fix-It says: "Canadian Bacon is best bacon!" says:

      Actually, it’s extremely Comcastic.*

      (*when ‘Comcastic’ is used in the sardonic, Consumerist interpretation to mean “sucking beyond all means of measuring suck.”)

  27. slightlyjaded says:

    Comcast (and every other ISP) is already investing in network upgrades. The question is how they pay for those upgrades, which cost many billions of dollars. The problem is that under the current model, they have no way to recoup their costs.

    When ISPs upgraded from dial-up to broadband-grade infrastructures, for example, they could offer new services (i.e., high-speed Internet) to pay for those upgrades. Now, it’s other private companies that are making all of the profits from ISPs’ infrastructure investments, with ISPs left holding the bill. Saying “they should just step up and do it anyway” is not a solution.

    The fact of the matter is that in a world where more people are using the Internet for video services, the Internet becomes a whole lot more expensive. Somebody is ultimately going to have to pay the true cost to deliver this traffic.

    • Kimaroo - 100% Pure Natural Kitteh says:

      What have they been doing with all the money that users have been paying over the past 12(ish) years? I went to cable broadband in the year 2000, and have been paying about 50 dollars a month, sometimes more. I know I’m not the only one. Where is all that money? Why haven’t they used it to expand the network?

      • slightlyjaded says:

        Question: How many people do you think had broadband access along with you a decade ago? How many people have it today? You really think your ISP has been able to transition millions of people from dial-up to broadband speeds without upgrading their network?

        The difference now is that we all want to upgrade our network again into an HD-capable video Internet. But we’re paying Netflix (and other content providers) for those video services–not the ISP who has to pay to deliver them.

      • evnmorlo says:

        They invested in throttling torrents and setting up a bandwidth cap. Money well spent

  28. Lprd says:

    Level 3 really ought to call Comcasts bluff. Depeering from Level 3 would be absolutely catastrophic for Comcast. I think Level 3 has the upper hand in a game of hardball.

  29. ackondro says:

    Ok, so let’s ignore the precedent of peering agreements, and just decide Comcast is in the wrong. Oh you want to know more? OK, so here goes.
    Level3 is a big big network provider, but not to homes, more to ISP’s or website hosts. AFAIK it is the biggest in the world. Recently they land a contract to provide Netflix server space. Since Netflix has been known to take up 17% of all US internet traffic sometimes, this means Level3 is now going to be dumping a lot more data onto the companies that connect with Level3.
    Before Netflix, Level3 took about as much data from Comcast as they gave to Comcast, so the companies didn’t feel any need to worry about paying anything, but now that Level3 is going to be dumping a ton more data into Comcast’s pipes, Comcast feels they need to be paid, to defray the cost of network improvements to benefit Level3 connectivity. Level3 doesn’t want to pay Comcast, likely because Level3 feels that since Level3 carries so much traffic, it should not be held to peering agreements.
    Level3 has pulled this trick before, look up Level3 and Cogent if you’re interested. This isn’t about Comcast and Net Neurality, this is about data moving in quantities that cannot be generalized into layperson speak.

    • Brunette Bookworm says:

      But that still leaves me the question of whether this is really an increase in load or just a redistribution of it. I can’t see how the entire demand for Netflix by Comcast subscribers changed so wouldn’t Level3’s data go up while some other Netflix providers goes down? I.e. it’s distributed among more companies.

  30. Kimaroo - 100% Pure Natural Kitteh says:

    This is a really crappy time for this to start happening. I don’t have Comcast anymore, but if they can get away with charging extra for Netflix traffic, then the other ISPs will start to do it as well.

    All at a time when Netflix just came out with higher prices for DVD plans, in order to nudge more people into streaming. Not to mention the streaming only plan.

    Perhaps Comcast waited for that announcement to go ahead with this whole scheme.

    I hope Comcast gets spanked, hard. It’s not right and it should be stopped.

  31. MedicallyNeedy says:

    I’m paying Comcast for the ability to stream Netflix (and porn) and they are going to downgrade my service without lowering my fee! THROTTLE THIS COMCAST!

  32. rekoil says:

    Almost – it’s not traffic levels, but what we call “peering ratios” – the ratio of traffic two interconnected are willing each other for free. For most peering relationships, such a ratio is agreed on in advance. For example, Level3, which is mostly a net “sender” of traffic, promises to send no more than 5 times the amount of traffic Comcast sends to it, else the party in violation agrees to pay the other for the overage.

    The reason for this is that most carriers use what we call “hot-potato” routing when dropping off traffic to other carriers. If I’m Level3, it’s in my financial interest to get that traffic off of my network as soon as I can, so I’ll look for the closest point where I can do so and send it there. So if I’m sending my peering partner more traffic than he’s sending me, he’s effectively paying more to carry that traffic to his end users than I’m paying to bring his traffic to mine.

    Where this gets sticky is when one considers the “value” of traffic. Google is a great example – they are almost exclusively a traffic-sending, not consuming, network, but all the retail carriers see enough value in their customers accessing Google that they tend to the ratio imbalance slide. Level3, on the other hand, is now handling most of Netflix’s traffic – which Comcast sees little value in, since Netflix is competition after all. So they’re choosing to enforce the ratios in this case.

    A lot of folks in the business see the concept of enforcing peering ratios antiquated – see the Google example above – but in this case, it’s clearly in Comcast’s interest to do so. Anti-competitve, anti-customer, yes, but what do you expect from last year’s Worst Company In America?

    • slightlyjaded says:

      To be fair, while Netflix is certainly a competitor and I’m sure that plays into this, it’s also consuming a huge amount of Comcast’s bandwidth. It’s hard to make an apples-to-apples comparison here when you could carry about a zillion Google searches in the amount of bandwidth consumed by streaming an HD movie to a single Netflix subscriber.

  33. EBone says:

    Comcast will soon own NBC. NBC owns Hulu. Hulu competes with Netflix streaming. Comcast is trying to give their product an unfair competitive edge by penalizing the competition.

  34. Brunette Bookworm says:

    So, prior to Nov. 11, where did the current Netflix traffic to Comcast come from? Is Comcast charging ALL providers of Netflix content or just Level 3? And how could the demand go up “twofold”? I would think that the demand for Netflix streaming was about the same on Nov. 10 as it was on Nov. 12, just another person delivering it. I doubt the number of Comcast subscribers who want the streaming movies increased twofold over two days.

  35. Cheap Sniveler: Sponsored by JustAnswer.comâ„¢ says:

    Comcast’s blog has finally posted some comments… but not mine.

    http://blog.comcast.com/2010/11/comcast-comments-on-level-3.html

  36. PhiTauBill says:

    Looks ComCrap may be the front runner for next year’s WCIA and the prestigious golden poo… dare I say we have a potential poo-peat on our hands?

  37. human_shield says:

    Headline should be, “Comcast shows America why Net Neutrality is necessary”.

  38. PeteWa says:

    I’m already paying Comcast for internet access, they want to charge double for my received services?

  39. EmanNeercs says:

    I see a grim future for us ahead… Welcome to America Inc., where all your major corporate dreams can come true.

  40. HogwartsProfessor says:

    Well, if the price of internet goes up, that will be good incentive to discontinue pay TV so I can afford to watch shows on the computer. And do business, and communicate, etc. etc. I only pay for electricity to run my intertubes!

  41. MurderGirl says:

    This would be a really good time for the rest of the internet to blackhole Comcast, so they can see what their future Kabletown intranet will look like,

  42. YouDidWhatNow? says:

    …so where are all the idiots who think net neutrality is a bad idea now?

    Consumers pay for the bandwidth…period. If Comcast thinks it’s not making enough money on it’s utilized bandwidth, then it should increase it’s subscriber rates. Trying to charge a content provider and/or peer-level provider for pushing stuff through it’s tubes to consumers that have requested it is the worst possible thing that can happen.

    There had better be an enormous smackdown on Comcast…soon. Otherwise this precedent could very literally end the internet as we know it. We’ll all be living in our own little AOL-ish walled gardens, with no access to anything else.

  43. Andy says:

    For those Comcast customers in the San Francisco Bay Area, I recommend you call astound.net and see if they are available in your area.

  44. ThinkerTDM says:

    Thanks to all you bullshit anti-net neutrality fucks.

  45. TPA says:

    If the Comcast/NBC deal was thought to be shady/monopolistic before, this right here shows what NBComcast’s future intentions will be. The NBC/Comcast deal should be banned immediately. Furthermore, I’d love to see Comcast split up a bit. Not that it did a huge amount of good with the Bells, but Comcast (and Verizon for that matter) have gotten too large for them to manage.

  46. Myotheralt says:

    Sorry, but a toll is a toll, and a roll is a roll, and if we don’t get no tolls, then we don’t eat no rolls.

  47. Chigaimasmaro says:

    I’ve been using the “internet” way before AOL and Prodigy appeared, gosh the good times with a 2400 baud modem and telnet.

    From what I’ve seen with ISP’s these days is that they are too big to respond to how quickly their market changes. High Speed ISP’s customer’s are requesting Netflix, Youtube, GrooveShark, etc etc and that trend isn’t going to change anytime soon. The internet and technology is moving us towards more interactive entertainment and more interconnected forms of communication.

    The old paradigm that ISPs in the US have should have died when they introduced the faster service and DSL should have never existed. As technology changed, companies such as Comcast should have been working on their networks properly. But they didn’t have to since they were and are a dominating company in the U.S. Over time the price of the HIGHEST speed available should have remained the same, but the slower speeds should have fallen in price since the tech to deliver bandwidth has gotten cheaper. But that too didn’t happen.

    So now years later, its the catch up game and everyone is hurting for it. Netflix can’t deliver content to the customers, L3 can’t push data through Comcast without a toll, and the customer’s pockets might be pillaged on either end of the deal, either by netflix charging more or Comcast charging more.

    To me, what makes this feel like a slap in the face is that Comcast themselves advertise the following “Download movies, music and games, faster then ever before and 20 times faster than DSL.” So they are actively saying, “We have the capacity to handle the movies you want to see and we’ll get them to you FASTER.” That means they system in place to handle the customer demand and if not, they’ll get it that way.

    But what Comcast is NOW saying here is that they don’t either want to handle the traffic or they don’t have the capacity to handle the traffic. If that’s the case they are advertising falsehoods to the customer and that needs to be halted.

    I STILL blame whoever was the lunkhead that made the internet a service instead of a utility. That was such a failure of critical thinking and foresight or maybe greed.

  48. 24gotham says:

    Hmmm, not a very Comcastic way to handle things.

  49. f5alcon says:

    i think comcast could get a way with it if they didnt have a competing product in cable tv where they are losing subscribers to netflix and this is just to recoup that lost revenue.

  50. EcPercy says:

    So what is it exactly that you are paying your what? ~50+ a month for if it’s not the bandwidth for the content you wish to view…..

    Stuff like this makes me glad I am not living in my home country anymore (USA)…

  51. Everett says:

    So they spent 300% more on programming, than building out their network. They are a company trying to provide two distinct services (media delivery, and internet service). One is broadcast (sit and watch it happen). The other is transmission/reception (interactive). Broadcast (cable TV) takes bandwidth usage that transmission/reception (internet connectivity) could be using. Comcast is competing with itself (dividing limited resources over two revenue streams). The old way of doing things was cable connected to box connected to T.V. The new way of doing things is internet connection to box (boxee, Windows media, etc) to T.V. screen. They are using this “toll booth tax” to subsidize the continued use of obsolete technology. Be an internet provider and push programming across it, be a cable T.V. company and die while companies push content across the internet, or mix the two into a cocktail of suckage and Fail. I guess we know Comcasts answer.

  52. lizard450 says:

    I have created an account just to help you better understand what is going on here.

    L3 and Akamai pay Comcast to have SPECIAL roads into Comcast’s network. If you have a private road (which is a violation of net neutrality anyway) then of course you need to pay for it! Otherwise you use the public roads and deal with the TRAFFIC.

    Your article is false and irresponsible reporting.