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Netflix CEO Reed Hastings   (Source: Netflix)
Reed Hastings claims that all Internet apps on Comcast count against the data cap except Xfinity

Netflix CEO Reed Hastings has a bone to pick with Comcast. Hastings made a Facebook post yesterday saying that Comcast is failing to follow net neutrality principles due to its unfair favoritism toward its own on-demand Xfinity service.

Comcast, as an internet service provider (ISP), places data caps on video services. When services like Netflix and Hulu are used, it counts against the cap. However, Hastings found that not all internet apps are created equal -- at least not where Comcast is concerned.

Hastings made this discovery over the weekend when watching internet video apps like Netflix, Xfinity, HBO Go, and Hulu through his Xbox 360. When playing any of the apps other than Xfinity, it counted against the data cap. But when Xfinity was used, it didn't count against the Internet cap at all.

"When I watch video on my Xbox from three of these four apps, it counts against my Comcast internet cap," said Hastings' Facebook post. "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.

"In what way is this neutral?"

Comcast defended itself by saying that the Xfinity service is delivered over its private IP network, not the public internet.

Just last month, Hastings said he wanted Netflix to join forces with cable companies in order to compete with the likes of HBO GO, but Comcast later said it wanted nothing to do with the video streaming giant.

Source: paidContent

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Why is this a big deal?
By slashbinslashbash on 4/16/2012 3:47:29 PM , Rating: 2
Your plan has a cap for data. You agreed to it, it's the plan you signed up for. It's a nice thing for Comcast to not count Xfinity against your cap. It's a bonus. It's their network, not Netflix's or Hulu's. What's the big fuss about?

I can imagine the whining if Comcast *did* count Xfinity against the cap. "I'm already paying Comcast for this content once, now I have to pay for it again? Wah wah wah..."

Note: I do not generally like cable companies or telcos, and I have never had Comcast service personally. But this seems like simple whining and political posturing.

RE: Why is this a big deal?
By Mathos on 4/16/2012 4:13:12 PM , Rating: 2
Considering a fair amount of their network and infrastructure was paid for with government subsidies, which came from tax payer dollars..... You have to think about the fact that these same companies will also lobby state or federal government, to prevent your local municipality from setting up it's own competing broadband or tv service. Or since they own many of the major broadcast network channels, they simply prevent any new startups from being able to carry those basic channels....even though you can essentially get them over the air for free.

RE: Why is this a big deal?
By ritualm on 4/16/2012 9:48:22 PM , Rating: 3
"Apple wants you to use iTunes exclusive of everything else."

Replace Apple with Comcast, and iTunes with Xfinity.

Hastings is not whining, it's a legitimate complaint. Comcast wants its customers to only use Xfinity instead of Hulu / Netflix what have you, in direct violation of net neutrality principles.

RE: Why is this a big deal?
By Reclaimer77 on 4/17/2012 9:44:03 AM , Rating: 2
I feel he has a legitimate beef, but he handled this REALLY poorly. The fact of the matter is, Xfinity is pure SHIT, and in no way can possibly hope to compete with Netflix. And instead of giving Comcast a free plug and acting threatened by it, he should have used the opportunity to stress how inferior Comcast's service is.

RE: Why is this a big deal?
By Trisped on 4/18/2012 4:18:21 PM , Rating: 3
Most Comcast users who want to view videos online and do not have a Netflix account will instead use Xfinity not because it is a better service, but because they do not want to "waste" their bandwidth.

Since Comcast is a major provider of network access, bundling their competing service is akin to Microsoft bundling MS Office with Windows.

RE: Why is this a big deal?
By jRaskell on 4/17/2012 7:50:08 AM , Rating: 2
Your plan has a cap for data. You agreed to it, it's the plan you signed up for.

Comcast's ENTIRE business model is all about eliminating competition. They don't want any sort of fair competition. They want monopolies. They want their customers to have no other options. And for the most part that's exactly what they have.

If you can't understand how all of that is bad for the customer, well... I'm sorry to hear that.

RE: Why is this a big deal?
By someguy123 on 4/17/2012 10:12:10 PM , Rating: 2
Pretty sure most people didn't agree upfront, or have no other choice in the matter.

Comcast and at&t for example were both unlimited and have recently introduced caps in certain regions. Where I live, the only choice for cable is comcast. I can either pay for the xfinity bundle, or pay for DSL on top of comcast TV access, which ends up being more expensive due to comcast's pricing on single services. The DSL service is also limited to 1.5mbps. I'm sure most people have the same experience, if not complete lack of alternatives.

RE: Why is this a big deal?
By Trisped on 4/18/2012 4:32:20 PM , Rating: 2
It is not a nice thing, it is not reasonable, it is not fair.

Comcast has entered exclusive contracts with many cities which prevent other companies from laying new cable wiring. This is standard, as it costs a lot of money to lay the wire.

Many people do not have access to DSL or other phone based high speed internet connections. For example my sister lives in a complex where the phone system passes through a gate controller (so if someone calls from the gate box you can buzz open the gate) which prevents DSL from working in the complex. If these people want high speed internet they either have to pay for a cellar data plan or they have to use the only cable provider in the area.

This is what net neutrality is all about, making sure that ISPs cannot manipulate the online world. An ISP should only give access to the internet. If they have internet based services then these services must be separate from the internet service. This is similar to the issue taken with Microsoft bundling MS Office with Windows or bundling Windows Media Player with Windows.

In the past DT has reported on an ISP which wanted to charge $.01 per twitter page and $1.00 per Netflix page. This is a similar scheme except it places the perceived charge on Netflix (Netflix is using my Mb rather then Comcast is charging me more to use Netflix).

That's not a rant
By amanojaku on 4/16/2012 12:46:47 PM , Rating: 5
That's a legitimate complaint. ISPs never said "excessive data usage requires expensive peering agreements", which would be false. Smaller companies paying for transit (access) through a larger ISP would be affected, but not Tier 1 providers. And it's the Tier 1's that want to place the caps.

What they said was "excessive data usage requires a larger infrastructure", which means more routers, switches, etc... Private/internal traffic uses those same routers, switches, etc... So Reed is correct, Comcast, and companies following in its footsteps, are lying and not playing fair.

RE: That's not a rant
By nafhan on 4/16/2012 1:31:37 PM , Rating: 5
It's possible for something to be both a rant and a complaint about legitimate issues. :)

Anyway, this is why I feel that providers of physical infrastructure should not be allowed to offer other services; there is a VERY clear conflict of interest. As long as infrastructure providers are offering non-infrastructure services (i.e. xfinity on demand), they will find ways to use the situation to their advantage - giving their services a leg up over the competition in a way that generally will not be beneficial to the consumer.

Xfinity is Intranet, huh?
By joex444 on 4/16/2012 1:53:48 PM , Rating: 3
So, the claim from Comcast is that Xfinity video services are delivered via Intranet rather than Internet when possible.

Wouldn't this be fairly simple to test?

1. I would expect a traceroute to never hit any non-Comcast servers. Everything should be internal.
2. If you saturate your Internet traffic the Xfinity services should be unaffected, or only affected up to the point that you have saturated your own LAN. (ie, don't try this on 802.11, but stick to 100Mbps or 1Gbps wired connections.)

I, luckily, am not on a Comcast connection -- currently using Orange in France. But I can load the xfinity page and since I have a comcast ID I can login and get to the point where it checks for Microsoft Silverlight. Clearly it isn't Intranet-only, but could possibly be Intranet when possible, Internet otherwise. Anyways, I'm also on Ubuntu and it doesn't work with Moonlight so I can't actually see if it works even for us "foreigners" (Americans working abroad).

RE: Xfinity is Intranet, huh?
By StevoLincolnite on 4/16/2012 2:33:14 PM , Rating: 2
Or... Comcast could use a normal every day CDN like Akami, then they would actually only need Deep Packet Inspection hardware to pick up the content and unmeter it. (Note: Such hardware is expensive, think: 6/7 figures.)
It's also not 100% reliable, especially when delivered from a non-ISP-local Akamai cluster.

Australian's have been dealing with this sort of thing for years, it's also how a majority of Xbox Live! content is distributed.

RE: Xfinity is Intranet, huh?
By Solandri on 4/16/2012 5:01:25 PM , Rating: 3
Or we could just prohibit ISPs from providing content (other than their own ISP-related services, like a web page). That way anyone providing Internet content has to compete on a level playing field. If Xfinity wants servers localized on Comcast's LAN, they'd have to pay for the privilege, and it would hurt their competitiveness on the Internet at large. The way it is right now, Comcast can use money people pay for its cable Internet services to subsidize Xfinity, providing it an unfair advantage against Netflix even if there were net neutrality.

Yes, yes, I can hear the free business types saying the government shouldn't interfere with the market. I'm normally one of them. The problem here is that the government has already interfered with the market, granting Comcast a cable and cable Internet service monopoly in many areas. They should not be allowed to leverage that monopoly to diversify their business into different markets like providing content.

RE: Xfinity is Intranet, huh?
By Trisped on 4/18/2012 4:44:39 PM , Rating: 2
It probably is 100% on Comcast servers.
They probably have servers at each of their hubs which host the content. This means that (if they are following this model) they only have to pay for bandwidth between the end user and the hub.
Compare this with the standard web hosting setup which has one data hub. This means that the ISP has to provide a fast connection not only to their hub, but from their hub to the web host.

In short, it costs the ISP less to provide the same data if that data is located closer on the network to the destination.

While Comcast has a legitimate claim (it does cost them less), they are using unfair business tactics. They have used their position as an ISP to give themselves an advantage which has not been shared with others.

This is Why Cutting the Cord Will Never Work!
By Arsynic on 4/16/2012 12:43:26 PM , Rating: 2
Cable companies and networks have too much leverage to overcome. They will never offer services that undercut their bottom line.

By FITCamaro on 4/16/2012 1:32:06 PM , Rating: 2
Or live somewhere without caps. T-minus 1 month before cutting the cord.

By jRaskell on 4/17/2012 7:46:39 AM , Rating: 1
Cable companies and networks have too much leverage to overcome.

Please don't buy into their bullshit.

even when he speaks truth
By RamarC on 4/16/2012 10:11:22 PM , Rating: 2
he's still an idiot
-- signed "netflix sub since 2003"

"There is a single light of science, and to brighten it anywhere is to brighten it everywhere." -- Isaac Asimov

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