Netflix CEO Rants About Comcast's Xfinity, Net Neutrality on Facebook
April 16, 2012 12:18 PM
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Netflix CEO Reed Hastings
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
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Xfinity is Intranet, huh?
4/16/2012 1:53:48 PM
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?
4/16/2012 2:33:14 PM
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?
4/16/2012 5:01:25 PM
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
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?
4/18/2012 4:44:39 PM
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.
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