Comcast to charge toll for Netflix

They do this because they can get away with it. Comcast has plenty of friends in Congress on both sides of the aisle and they’re not shy with handing out money. The reality is that the service they provide is slow and very expensive compared to other parts of the world, so they have lots of cash to work with. (As I’ve mentioned in the past, even “socialist” France has multiple fiber optic options for around €35. This includes 100MB service, plus calls to well over 60 countries around the world plus TV channels. Other European and Asian countries have even better deals.)

So who still says we don’t need net neutrality?

Comcast made a move during the past several weeks that may threaten Netflix and other video services, according to the New York Times. It levied a “toll” to Netflix’s contracted video delivery service, called Level 3, which the company felt forced to pay in order to “ensure customers did not experience any disruptions.” This brings a new wrinkle to the “network neutrality” debate.

In effect, without charging Netflix or its own cable broadband customers extra, but instead charging the provider of the video stream itself, Comcast gets to test the waters of segregated pricing, the very imbalance that supporters of net neutrality seek to counter. In this instance, Level 3, the contractor that dearly wants Netflix’s business, is forced to pay extra to keep it. Eventually, this could lead to Netflix raising its own prices in order to cover the expenses of its streaming contractors. Neither Netflix or Comcast responded to the New York Times when approached about the matter. (Comcast is in final negotiations to buy NBC Universal; is a joint venture between NBC Universal and Microsoft.)

This also raises yet another reason why the Comcast deal ought to be canned immediately.

An American in Paris, France. BA in History & Political Science from Ohio State. Provided consulting services to US software startups, launching new business overseas that have both IPO’d and sold to well-known global software companies. Currently launching a new cloud-based startup. Full bio here.

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