Time Warner Defends Comcast In Level 3 Dispute

Time Warner Defends Comcast In Level 3 Dispute

A big battle is happening over Internet service so, naturally, people have added large dollops of fear and misinformation and are shouting about it on Facebook. On December 21, the FCC will finally vote on adopting net neutrality rules. This may (or may not) have been caused by Comcast's spat with Level 3 now that Level 3 won a big contract to handle Netflix's video streaming.

Grind it all together, output it to Facebook and you get this campaign: "Save the Internet: Stop Comcast from Blocking Netflix. Without strong net neutrality rules, companies like Comcast can demand fees from innovative companies like Netflix in an attempt to choke consumer freedom and coerce users to adopt its own video services instead."


Comcast wouldn't mind if its streaming video was faster than Netflix

Comcast insists that this has nothing to do with blocking the upstart Netflix's business but about how much of Level 3's traffic it must carry before it gets to send Level 3 a bill [PDF]. Level 3's traffic has greatly increased thanks to Netflix.

On Thursday, Comcast's frienemy, Time Warner, issued a statement of support for Comcast that eloquently explained the pro-cable provider side of the fight.

"The recent news regarding the negotiations between Level 3 and Comcast has raised many questions about the way peering agreements are negotiated between Network Operators and has been inappropriately lumped into the issue of network neutrality. These agreements have been and continue to be negotiated based on the amounts of traffic, not the type, being delivered to each party’s network by the other. 

"When the amount of traffic being delivered between two networks is generally balanced a 'Settlement Free' peering agreement is likely the result.  However, when the amount of traffic is not balanced, it is commonplace for the network operator receiving the greater level of traffic to insist on compensation for the added costs that are faced as a result. Again, the issue in these negotiations is the amount, not the type of data being transported. Additionally, regardless of whether two Network Operators reach an agreement, end users will still be able to receive any data or content they wish to reach as that traffic will find an alternate route over other available interconnecting networks. 

"Because there is no discrimination among different types of content, and no blocking of content, peering agreements between Network Operators don’t raise Net Neutrality issues and have never been part of the Net Neutrality debate."

To add juice to that argument, Comcast this week said it actually supports the FCC's proposed rules. Note that the rules could allow ISPs to do some traffic rationing.

The issue is reaching fever pitch, jump started because the FCC commissioner wants a vote to take place before the new Congress arrives in 2011. Funny, just announcing the meeting's agenda caused every FCC commissioner to immediately issue a statement with Republicans (predictably) opposed and Democrats (predictably) in favor.

And now, every oddball group is jumping in to add to the net neutrality hype. We've gotten press releases this week from groups as diverse as The Hispanic Leadership Fund (opposed) to the National Medical Association (in favor).

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Dear Comcast,

We get it: NetFlix uses a lot of bandwidth.

Why the hell should your profits (nearly $1B each quarter) have to suffer so that innovative businesses can develop, and customers can enjoy a whole new level of service?

Congrats on buying NBC Universal, by the way. But, back to the subject...

You're *obviously* _hurting_ for cash, and can only make ends meet by vastly overselling your bandwidth to poor shmucks that you immediately cut off once they've exceeded their monthly quota of gruel. Thank god you have tens of millions to spend on lobbyists and your customers have practically no representation whatsoever.

I'll bet you're just wishing that most of your customers had another option, so that they would leave your network and give their slimy stinky money to someone else. That would leave you free to pursue a better more pure internet: One where people don't merely pay an access fee, or for their bandwidth, but one where no one gets anything without double teaming you with fistfuls of cash from both the customer and provider sides.

You are truly my hero,

Love,

3vi1

 

(P.S.S.T. Netflix):  Netflix - don't give in.  Let them block you.  When the few customers that can do leave them switch to a provider that has NetFlix, then they'll learn they can't extort you like this.  Otherwise, you are setting a horrible precedent for internet services and new service startups are going to slow to a crawl while the megaconglomerates continue to sell us the same old thing unchallenged.  Don't discard my input simply because I hate the MPAA and therefore won't rent any of your movies!)

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If I can't access netflix on my comcast line, I will simply switch to AT&T U-Verse. I hope netflix/level 3 don't back down.

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Comcast, along with any other greedy ISP that shares their mentality (Time Warner), have absolutely no right to demand, or even beg Level 3 or anyone else for money that doesn't belong to them. They already get paid quite handsomely to provide access to the internet by their subscribers, so why should Level 3 have to pay Comcast to simply follow through on their obligations?

Well, they shouldn't.

As technology progresses and people rely more heavily on the internet, it is only natural that data usage correspondingly increases as well. That is simply the zeitgeist of the internet, and Comcast would do well to embrace it, rather than pick a fight they can't win. Not only are they exposing themselves as the money hungry sharks we all knew them to be, but they are also doing a right fine job of alienating what few customers actually stay with them out of loyalty, and not merely because they lack an alternative.

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