It’s been a few weeks since Comcast announced that data chewed up by customers who use the cable company’s Xfinity Xbox app won’t count toward their monthly data cap. The move ignited a debate over whether or not Comcast was unfairly making its product more readily available than those provided by others, like perhaps… Netflix. Well, yesterday, Netflix CEO Reed Hastings decided it was time to make his position known.
Posting on his Facebook page, Hastings wrote:
Comcast no longer following net neutrality principles.
Comcast should apply caps equally, or not at all.
I spent the weekend enjoying four good internet video apps on my Xbox: Netflix, HBO GO, Xfinity, and Hulu.
When I watch video on my Xbox from three of these four apps, it counts against my Comcast internet cap. When I watch through Comcast’s Xfinity app, however, it does not count against my Comcast internet cap.
For example, if I watch last night’s SNL episode on my Xbox through the Hulu app, it eats up about one gigabyte of my cap, but if I watch that same episode through the Xfinity Xbox app, it doesn’t use up my cap at all.
The same device, the same IP address, the same wifi, the same internet connection, but totally different cap treatment.
In what way is this neutral?
Comcast argues that the Xbox app doesn’t count toward data usage because the data does not go through the public Internet, but through a more direct connection.
Wrote GigaOm’s Stacey Higginbotham at the time of the initial Comcast announcement, “Unlike content coming in from a service like HBO Go or Netflix, which does go over the top using the public Internet, this travels from Comcast’s servers over its network, to hardware authenticated by Comcast to your TV.”