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Netflix CEO Accuses Comcast of Not Practicing Net Neutrality

Soulskill posted about 2 years ago | from the not-that-he-has-anything-to-gain-for-doing-so dept.

Television 272

braindrainbahrain writes "Reed Hastings, CEO of Netflix, has a Facebook page in which he posts a short gripe about Comcast. It seems watching video through the Xfinity app on an Xbox does not counting towards your cap on your Comcast data plan. All other services, Netflix included, do. To quote Hastings: '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?'" The difference, of course, is that you need a Comcast cable TV subscription in order to have the Xfinity app not count toward your monthly data usage allowance. Then again, you can't exactly sign up for a similar plan through Netflix or Hulu.

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272 comments

So when my roommate comes and says (2)

drodal (1285636) | about 2 years ago | (#39701743)

Why isn't netflix working????? I can say why .......
(we have comcast too)

Re:So when my roommate comes and says (5, Insightful)

wmbetts (1306001) | about 2 years ago | (#39702099)

You can point to this and tell him or anyone else this is why Net Neutrality is good and not the antithesis of fair competition in an open market.

Why post on facebook? (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39701757)

And not lodge a complaint with the FCC or his local congresscritter (maybe over an expensive dinner)?

Re:Why post on facebook? (5, Insightful)

lambent (234167) | about 2 years ago | (#39702017)

The FCC has remarkably little enforcement capability. Likely, the goal was to name & shame in the most publicly visible way possible, so Netflix could gain some traction on this issue quickly, instead of having to wait around for months for the FCC to do anything useful.

Re:Why post on facebook? (3, Insightful)

WrongSizeGlass (838941) | about 2 years ago | (#39702109)

And not lodge a complaint with the FCC or his local congresscritter (maybe over an expensive dinner)?

One man, even with a loud voice, isn't going to make much of a difference. By posting it on Facebook he's hoping to stir the pot and get others up in arms about the unfair nature of this special treatment.

Re:Why post on facebook? (1)

Tassach (137772) | about 2 years ago | (#39702305)

One man, even with a loud voice, isn't going to make much of a difference.

Unless that one man happens the CEO of a publicly-owned corporation with a $5.6B market capitalization, who is speaking on behalf of that corporation's (very wealthy) investors... investors who also happen to give giant campaign contributions.

Re:Why post on facebook? (5, Interesting)

postbigbang (761081) | about 2 years ago | (#39702311)

This is one element of a much larger campaign. Who better to hit up (than your installed base) than the mobs at FB?

One man with a command of social media can indeed make a difference. The problem is that Netflix shot itself in the foot before, whizzing off their customer base, and they have part of that image to overcome.

My hopes? Somebody listens and makes Comcast become the neutral transport that they're supposed to be. Comcast will fight this tooth and nail; they will NOT roll over easily as they have the same "we own the wires" mentality that the rest of the once public utilities have.

Its like it costs Comcast less to stream their own (1, Informative)

Kenja (541830) | about 2 years ago | (#39701767)

Data from Comcast to customer is half the bandwidth compared to data from Netflix to Comcast to customer.

Re:Its like it costs Comcast less to stream their (5, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39701815)

Not entirely true. The bulk of the costs are the last mile (which remains the same whether it's Comcast or Netflix doing the streaming). Internet transit costs almost nothing these days, especially at the commit levels that a large carrier like Comcast has...

Re:Its like it costs Comcast less to stream their (1)

wmbetts (1306001) | about 2 years ago | (#39702139)

No kidding. I'm non-existent compared to Comcast and I pay next to nothing for bandwidth these days. My best deal is at a $1/meg for transit on a 100meg commit for a back up connection and my highest is $15/meg for one of my main lines. Saying that bandwidth is expensive is laughable in this day and age.

Re:Its like it costs Comcast less to stream their (1)

suutar (1860506) | about 2 years ago | (#39702271)

I'm sorry, I think I'm missing something. Is that a buck per megabyte or a buck per (megabyte-per-second) or what? Because a buck per megabyte doesn't sound very laughable.

Re:Its like it costs Comcast less to stream their (1)

QuantumRiff (120817) | about 2 years ago | (#39702303)

ahh, but your not accounting for the cost of all the systems and equipment needed to monitor and track your quota usage! :)

Re:Its like it costs Comcast less to stream their (3, Interesting)

SomePgmr (2021234) | about 2 years ago | (#39701825)

Seems the relevant point is that your cable TV wouldn't normally be part of your data plan, even though it's all delivered digitally now anyways.

But I'd say they're obviously working this angle to ease us into accepting their view of how isp's networks should work... Netflix pays Comcast extra, behind the scenes, for the luxury of being able to deliver video to their customers.

That way your Netflix will cost you twice what it does or you'll be more likely to use comcast's video services... a win-win for them, and all-around bad for Netflix and the customers.

Re:Its like it costs Comcast less to stream their (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39701839)

Wrong, it's the same bandwidth, just from an external source instead of internal. Comcast should co-locate high bandwidth services in each major metro area and charge the providers for the privilege of unlimited bandwidth while treating all traffic the same. If they do that then they're using their network to handle over 90% of the load. Instead of being an ISP, they're trying to squeeze the competition in an area that should not be associated with providing internet access.

Re:Its like it costs Comcast less to stream their (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39701985)

This statement makes no sense. The "high bandwidth service" in question in Netflix, Comcast has no say in where this service is located. Unless you mean the high bandwidth service is Xfinity, in which case it is already located within the Comcast network. The fact is, Comcast, and all other ISPs, are being forced to pay significantly more in peering costs due to the massive amount of bandwidth being used by Netflix. Services like Xfinity never leave the Comcast network, so they have no impact on peering agreements.

Now, I fully support Net Neutrality, but situations like this highlight how difficult it is in practice. If Xfinity were to count against usage caps, yes it would be more "fair" in theory. But the fact is, those bandwidth caps are a reflection of the costs of peering agreements, and Netflix raises those costs significantly while Xfinity does not raise them at all, so treating them the same would mean that Xfinity would be indirectly subsidizing Netflix, its direct competitor. The fact is, Hastings doesn't really want Xfinity to count against the cap, he wants Netflix to not count against the cap, a position that is pretty difficult to justify.

Re:Its like it costs Comcast less to stream their (5, Insightful)

NeutronCowboy (896098) | about 2 years ago | (#39701867)

Nonsense. Number one, it's not half the bandwidth, unless you somehow count magical pixie dust compression on Comcast's side. You could be arguing that it travels less far, because the data already resides on Comcast's network (Hulu being sponsored/owned/controlled in part by Comcast), but that has nothing to do with bandwidth, and all to do with.... wait for it... Net Neutrality. In one case, the same packets (assuming the very same file exists on both Netflix and on Hulu), are traveling through the Comcast network, with an endpoint in a Comcast controlled network. In the other case, it is traveling through the Comcast network with an endpoint outside of the Comcast controlled network.

This is EXACTLY what Net Neutrality is about it.

And this is EXACTLY what everybody has been screaming bloody murder about since the ISPs got in bed with content, and since ISPs became big enough to be monopoly/duopoly providers. This exact beehavior was predicted by a number of people, and it will end in
* Internet access that works exactly like cable channel access
* a death sentence for any site that isn't paying off the ISPs to be on a special access program

Welcome to the future Internet. It's called TV.

Exactly! (1)

future assassin (639396) | about 2 years ago | (#39702149)

That's why I've been saying for years. Network providers should be just that provide internet access. If they expand into media like you see so often these days there needs to be some regulation.

Seems there's a potentially HUGE market for wireless/wifi internet providers that can offer unlimited data transfers to customers. They wouldn't have their hands tied like some of the loca IPS's here where they have to lease the lines from the major providers which get money from everyone regardless if they are from a small local ISP.

Re:Exactly! (1)

NeutronCowboy (896098) | about 2 years ago | (#39702179)

Except that wireless ISPs suffer massively from frequency shortages. The only way for an ISP to do more than email and light browsing is fiber backbones and wired access. There's a reason Sonic.net got out of the wireless business.

Re:Its like it costs Comcast less to stream their (5, Funny)

Uncle Warthog (311922) | about 2 years ago | (#39702203)

Nonsense. Number one, it's not half the bandwidth, unless you somehow count magical pixie dust compression on Comcast's side.

Nope. I've seen the magical compression on Comcast's side and it doesn't come as dust. It usually arrives in big, slow-moving blocks.

Re:Its like it costs Comcast less to stream their (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39701917)

Doesn't matter; the traffic's practically free regardless about 70% of the time it would be used.

Re:Its like it costs Comcast less to stream their (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39701921)

So, it sounds like you're saying that if I torrent something only to Comcast users, it will not count towards my cap? Sweet.

Re:Its like it costs Comcast less to stream their (3, Insightful)

timeOday (582209) | about 2 years ago | (#39701981)

But what would the Internet look like if we start charging each byte by the number of hops it takes to get there?

Besides, the majority of bandwidth cost to the home is the last mile. The long haul is cheap. In this respect, the difference in cost between streaming from the nearest comcast datacenter vs. the nearest netflix datacenter should be close to the same.

Re:Its like it costs Comcast less to stream their (5, Insightful)

girlintraining (1395911) | about 2 years ago | (#39702011)

Data from Comcast to customer is half the bandwidth compared to data from Netflix to Comcast to customer.

Comcast is both a provider of internet services and a provider of content. What it is doing is bundling its services together to gain an unfair market advantage. It's the same kind of monopolistic practice that Microsoft got sued by, er... every country it does business within. The legal precident here is obvious, as is the conclusion. Whether you call it net neutrality or not, Comcast is doing something unethical and probably illegal as well.

Re:Its like it costs Comcast less to stream their (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39702067)

But isn't the data cap calculated at the point where data flows specifically to a single customer? More or less as an AC asked, if there was a torrent running that only Comcast subscribers could access, would that count towards their data cap?

I think if data within the Comcast network is counted towards a subscriber's data cap then the Xfinity data should as well, otherwise they are indeed breaking neutrality and exercising as a monopoly.

The data side of Comcast should be entirely separate from the content side.

SOULSKILL: RTFA (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39701777)

"The difference, of course, is that you need a Comcast cable TV subscription in order to have the Xfinity app not count toward your monthly data usage allowance. Then again, you can't exactly sign up for a similar plan through Netflix or Hulu."

And that sentence was obviously written by someone who doesn't understand the concept of Net Neutrality: the whole idea is that content from a provider owned by the NSP cannot be privileged.

Comcast is an icon of the "new" Corporate America (5, Insightful)

ibsteve2u (1184603) | about 2 years ago | (#39701799)

That is, eager to complain about - and pay to eliminate - regulations and laws meant to protect the consumer as a danger to "the free market" and "competition" while being equally eager to eliminate "the free market" and "competition".

Re:Comcast is an icon of the "new" Corporate Ameri (5, Insightful)

MickyTheIdiot (1032226) | about 2 years ago | (#39701859)

It's been said here before, these people are for the free market until they're not. When the free market turns against them they don't "innovate," they instantly go whining to their favorite congress person with a moneybag in their hand.

It's the same for everyone that claims to be "free market." There isn't one truly free market person in Congress on in Corporate America. Whenever you hear that it should cause your B.S. detector to go off.

Re:Comcast is an icon of the "new" Corporate Ameri (4, Informative)

flaming error (1041742) | about 2 years ago | (#39702105)

"When the free market turns against them"

Actually, that's never happened. There's never been a free global communications market.

Infrastructure, and those running it, are regulated and taxed/subsidized at different levels at different times, markets, and media.

Re:Comcast is an icon of the "new" Corporate Ameri (1)

magamiako1 (1026318) | about 2 years ago | (#39702115)

That's pretty much the same for everybody that mentions free market, not just Congress people and corporations. Even the people on internet forums. They're all for free market--until they're not.

WHAT A COUNTRY! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39702153)

In America, it's dog eat dog.

It Soviet Russia, it's exactly the opposite!

Comcast's memo in reaction (0)

jeffmeden (135043) | about 2 years ago | (#39701801)

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?

Dear user,

You thought we were going to be neutral if you opt to not use one of our (for-pay) services? Interesting.

Sincerely,
Comcast

Seriously, even from a purely technical standpoint why should two different apps that probably have two totally different delivery mechanisms automatically be forced to have the same bandwidth treatment? Apples to oranges. If you want your internet provider to like your choice of media subscription then go find one that specifically is. If not, go ahead and get Comcast.

Re:Comcast's memo in reaction (1)

SJHillman (1966756) | about 2 years ago | (#39701873)

I believe the idea behind it has nothing to do with the delivery mechanisms beyond the fact that both go over the Internet connection. However, Xfinity traffic is given priority at the expense of potentially competing services. If you have 2GB/month cap and Xfinity doesn't count towards it, then Xfinity practically has a monopoly for the rest of the month once that 2GB is used up.

Comcast's defense is that the app turns the Xbox, etc into another cable box (since it's only available with their cable plan), so it shouldn't count towards your data usage anyway.

Re:Comcast's memo in reaction (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39701947)

I experience some strange shit too. I have AT&T (originally Bellsouth [Hellsouth]).

Netflix streams pretty well, shows sometimes skip and stop.

Youtube videos are just crap - gotta load them hit play and THEN hit pause and let the rest download and then hit play again AFTER they download completely because otherwise, it just starts and stops.

I don't know WTF it is. Is Netlfix buffering that much better or is Youtube shitty?

I don't consume much else as far as online video - so take my opinion with a shaker of salt because I'm old and cranky and if I don't get my MATLOCK and my Banana pudding, I'm pissed!

Oh, they above was typed on a Royal Typewriter and scanned in - none of this fancy schamcy electronic gizmo shit for me! Shit! The onion on my belt felled off! Wait a minute .....

Re:Comcast's memo in reaction (5, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39701977)

"why should two different apps that probably have two totally different delivery mechanisms"

Actually having used Comcasts service, it streams the Hulu feeds through their own Xfinity web app. So essentially the Xfinity web app is a wrapper for Hulu for paid cable customers. In fact if its a show that appears on both, the Hulu feed is likely to be faster as its not going through 2 different gateways to get to you. I have tested this myself with numerous network shows. I only realized this after a redirect was screwed up and it showed the stream was coming from Hulu, NOT Xfinity.

"Apples to oranges."

Nope the last mile is the last mile no matter what. 0s and 1s don't change just because you use a different service. Maybe get a better understanding of streaming media and understand that the ONLY reason they are doing this has nothing to do with the costs associated, but everything to do with making people THINK there are different costs associated when in reality there are not.

Its lying to the government/customers enough to completely obliterate the fact that they are in reality a utility and should be regulated and beaten into submission as such. Hell Comcasts whole plan to produce "original content is all a elaborate scheme to convince people they are more than what they are, a utility. But making a company not screw customers and not scheme and violate basic civil and federal laws "would be communist."

Our forfathers are rolling in their graves at just how much the rich control this country now.

Re:Comcast's memo in reaction (2)

jeffmeden (135043) | about 2 years ago | (#39702295)

Nope the last mile is the last mile no matter what. 0s and 1s don't change just because you use a different service. Maybe get a better understanding of streaming media and understand that the ONLY reason they are doing this has nothing to do with the costs associated, but everything to do with making people THINK there are different costs associated when in reality there are not.

People seem to like the idea that "bandwidth is next to free" and the cost is only in the last mile, and for all intents and purposes it has gotten very cheap compared to years gone by but if it were free (or somewhere approaching free) then explain to me how CDNs are a multi-billion dollar a year business, please. Surely it can't be that network operators at the national level are interested in optimizing traffic (in the name of reducing costs) by moving the content closer to the consumer, can it? But but but bandwidth is free! If Akamai were going to earn $1 billion a year from moving data around surely they are doing it by hand-delivering DVDs to consumers thus reducing the last-mile cost! Oh, wait, that's a different company.

Re:Comcast's memo in reaction (1)

funtapaz (1406785) | about 2 years ago | (#39702075)

If you want your internet provider to like your choice of media subscription then go find one that specifically is. If not, go ahead and get Comcast.

Surely you're joking. Most places are very lucky to have a choice between two ISPs (that are essentially the same company). Satellite does not count, caps prevent streaming.

Re:Comcast's memo in reaction (1)

Qzukk (229616) | about 2 years ago | (#39702165)

why should two different apps that probably have two totally different delivery mechanisms

What, one greases their bytes so they slide over the network easier?

Post of FaceBook, interesting approach. (1)

databaseadmin (1978316) | about 2 years ago | (#39701817)

Trying to get what he wants through shaming Comcast, as apposed to the lengthy regulatory path. We shall see if this works. If Comcast is smart, and they are, they would let Netflix have its way on this. On the other-hand, If Comcast is tough, and they VERY much are, they will put Netflix into a long death struggle over this.

Re:Post of FaceBook, interesting approach. (1)

Jeng (926980) | about 2 years ago | (#39701887)

Comcast might be tough, but Netflix is more popular, it will not be in Comcasts favor if this issue is being played out in the court of public opinion.

The chokepoint is the peering, not Comcast's net (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39701819)

While I'm not a fan of this Comcast policy, there is at least some rationale behind it. Their video service is streamed over an internal network, and does not constitute load at peering points.

Their practice isn't neutral, but any network engineer can appreciate how locally cached content lowers overall load at the peering points.

While net neutrality is an overall good policy, in the grand scheme of things, we can't overlook situations like this where pure neutrality results in a less efficient network.

Some might say we simply need more capacity, and while that is true, it costs less for major ISPs to cache heavily loaded video content locally.

Perhaps there is a middle-ground solution, such as an incentive scheme for huge users like Netflix to cooperate in setting up local caches of the most popular titles with major ISPs. Netflix, the ISP, and the user all stand to gain through such an implementation.

Re:The chokepoint is the peering, not Comcast's ne (1)

KarrdeSW (996917) | about 2 years ago | (#39702053)

Except this has nothing to do with the network engineering, it's simply about whether or not the particular streaming video service counts towards a user's cap.

If Comcast chooses to cap, then neutrality would mean that their own XFinity content counts toward that cap, regardless of the actual load placed on the network.

Re:The chokepoint is the peering, not Comcast's ne (2)

jmerlin (1010641) | about 2 years ago | (#39702201)

So how can competitors get in on this "in-network doesn't count towards bandwidth cap" thing? They can't? So since I have no other choices on my ISP, why then would anyone but Comcast want something like this to be legal? Tweak bandwidth cap to 50GB/month and then laugh as people are required to use your services else have internet services terminated. It would appear this is incredibly simple to abuse to force out any competition.

Psychic (1, Funny)

SJHillman (1966756) | about 2 years ago | (#39701823)

Maybe Comcast created some kind of psychic link for Xfinity so it doesn't have to go over the tubes connected to your house? Thus why it doesn't count towards your bandwidth!

My theory is that it's probably such a huge bandwidth hog that they don't want anyone to realize that it would kill their cap in 10 minutes.

Unfair competitive advantage (5, Interesting)

cpu6502 (1960974) | about 2 years ago | (#39701827)

It violates antitrust laws. Netflix, Amazon, and other streaming video services should just sue Comcast and get it over with it.

Re:Unfair competitive advantage (1)

jmerlin (1010641) | about 2 years ago | (#39702073)

And what about Comcast + AT&T + Verizon effectively being "the only choices available" for internet services but have the exact same costs for the exact same service with the exact same terms? Looks an awful lot like no competition is going on between the major monopolies, but a whole lot of trustful-lovin. Would love to see a massive lawsuit dissolve these monopolies. Unfortunately, so long as money = speech and corporations run this country, that'll never happen, regardless of how obviously they're violating anticompetitive legislation.

Also, not sure about Verizon, but Comcast & AT&T have the exact same data cap. It's such an arbitrary number and is not consistent with modern usage habits nor the speeds available. If I'm paying significantly more ($200/month) for 100Mbit, why is my cap the same as someone on a 10Mbit connection? Monopolies -- fun stuff.

Re:Unfair competitive advantage (1)

Overzeetop (214511) | about 2 years ago | (#39702209)

I have Verizon DSL, and if there's a cap, I haven't found it yet. I only have a 4M/768k ADSL, but based on my router data, I've been doing anywhere from 300 to 800 GB per month for the last year.

Re:Unfair competitive advantage (1)

cpu6502 (1960974) | about 2 years ago | (#39702213)

You would have to sue one county (or city) at a time, in order to challenge the validity of the exclusive contract they gave to Comcast in your juris diction.

I have Verizon. So far they've not applied any caps.

This is just a stupid complaint ... (3, Interesting)

brainchill (611679) | about 2 years ago | (#39701833)

The bandwidth used to get the data from comcasts servers is only transmitted across comcasts network and doesn't consume upstream bandwidth from peering connections so I would argue that the xfinity data isn't really "internet" traffic at all. It's like arguing that one apartment watching a tv show stored on a server in an apartment complex should be counted as consumed internet bandwidth to the upstream connections.

Re:This is just a stupid complaint ... (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39701969)

I see. So you would like the old PSTN system of local and long distance calls to be brought to the internet? Maybe you should think about just what that would mean, because it certainly seems like you and all the other people who haven't thought about it sure seem to want it to happen.

Re:This is just a stupid complaint ... (2)

cob666 (656740) | about 2 years ago | (#39701973)

This doesn't make sense. If Xfinity traffic stays on the Comcast internal network then there is still bandwidth utilization between their internal servers and your device. Additionally, once the packet from Netflix routes into the Comcast network it's no different than the Xfinity traffic.

Re:This is just a stupid complaint ... (4, Insightful)

gtbritishskull (1435843) | about 2 years ago | (#39702051)

If that is true, then ANY traffic that remains solely within Comcast's network should not affect the data cap.

Re:This is just a stupid complaint ... (1)

jmerlin (1010641) | about 2 years ago | (#39702117)

But why can't Netflix have a datacenter hosted on their network and get the same benefit? Oh, but you say they can? If they pay Comcast $100,000/month? Wait... oh yeah, this is what Net Neutrality was meant to prevent. It doesn't matter how you try to justify it with cost-based arguments, it provides an uncompetitive advantage and should not be permitted.

Reminds me of Comcasts DNS Hijacking (5, Interesting)

hackula (2596247) | about 2 years ago | (#39701853)

In my area, Comcast uses DNS Hijacking to favor their "search engine" any time you misspell something in the url bar. Sounds like more of the same to me. 21st century highwaymen.

Re:Reminds me of Comcasts DNS Hijacking (1)

SJHillman (1966756) | about 2 years ago | (#39701913)

Time Warner has been doing this here forever. It's a pain in the ass because it takes much longer than a simple "not found" message to load and offers no useful results.

Re:Reminds me of Comcasts DNS Hijacking (1)

Jeng (926980) | about 2 years ago | (#39701971)

Where in particular are they doing this, cause I don't experience that and I have been a customer of theirs for over 10 years now.

Re:Reminds me of Comcasts DNS Hijacking (1)

deimtee (762122) | about 2 years ago | (#39702151)

So don't use their DNS server. There are heaps of others out there.
Google for a list and pick one with a low ping time.
OpenDNS is good, or just use Google's own DNS (8.8.8.8 or 8.8.4.4)

Re:Reminds me of Comcasts DNS Hijacking (5, Informative)

The MAZZTer (911996) | about 2 years ago | (#39702255)

Fun fact: Apparently Chrome detects this behavior (by trying to load several nonsensical URLs in the background) and blocks it. 3 Chrome.

Unicast vs. Multicast (2, Informative)

rogueippacket (1977626) | about 2 years ago | (#39701855)

From strictly a technology perspective, there is a difference - IPTV delivered via Multicast can be engineered to reduce bandwidth consumption, and will not be counted as usage by your ISP. If delivered via Unicast, such as Netflix or Youtube, it looks just like every other packet. That is, unless you want your ISP performing DPI to bill you properly based on what you're watching instead of where it's coming from...? Which is more "neutral" - DPI or discrimination by packet type?

Re:Unicast vs. Multicast (4, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39702093)

Multicast is for broadcasts where everybody is receiving the same content simultaneously. It doesn't work for what's being discussed here; on-demand playback of individual episodes and movies. That's unicast. Why would Comcast stream the 15th minute of the 4th episode of season 2 of Community to everybody simultaneously, including the guy watching the 6th episode?

Re:Unicast vs. Multicast (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39702103)

I highly doubt they are using multicast for this. This isn't IPTV being used to deliver live TV which does work very well with multicast. This is providing on-demand access to a library of content that you can start at any time and control the playback. This doesn't allow the use of multicast.

Re:Unicast vs. Multicast (1)

gtbritishskull (1435843) | about 2 years ago | (#39702107)

I am pretty sure the xfinity app allows you to watch shows on-demand. Can that also be done with Multicast? If so, why can't Netflix and Youtube use multicast?

Re:Unicast vs. Multicast (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39702217)

It could be done via multicast still, but you'd not really see any benefit over UDP Unicast unless someone else was watching it at the same time.

Re:Unicast vs. Multicast (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39702135)

But they're not using Multicast here, so your point is moot.

Re:Unicast vs. Multicast (1)

jmerlin (1010641) | about 2 years ago | (#39702137)

Gotta love how you can multicast the same content to 200 different people who on-demand decide to watch it at completely different times. That's some kind of temporal shifting engineering technology to reduce bandwidth costs, right? Man, 2012 really is the future.

Re:Unicast vs. Multicast (5, Informative)

HellKnite (266374) | about 2 years ago | (#39702163)

Multicast only works as a bandwidth savings device when you're streaming the same content at the same time to multiple devices. I'm not familiar with the Comcast Xfinity service, but to be able to glean any reasonable measure of savings you'd have to watch Xfinity like you do regular TV - shows scheduled at a certain time, not streamed on demand.

Why shouldn't Comcast pass on the savings? (0)

Ichijo (607641) | about 2 years ago | (#39701865)

By becoming a content delivery network (CDN) host for Xfinity, Comcast lowers their bandwidth costs when their subscribers use Xfinity. So why shouldn't Comcast pass on the savings to their subscribers?

Net Neutrality is nice, but not when it encourages inefficiency.

So China is doing it right? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39702031)

Net neutrality tries to guarantee the same playing field to all content providers aka free market so the best (on merits) not the because it's the cheapest.

Re:Why shouldn't Comcast pass on the savings? (2)

jmerlin (1010641) | about 2 years ago | (#39702159)

Use Comcast's $60/month service or use Netflix, break your cap, and get service terminated. It's anti-competitive, and Comcast doesn't offer Netflix the ability to host on their network for the same savings. I fail to see any savings being passed onto the customers, rather just a blatant money grab.

so it begins.. (5, Insightful)

gl4ss (559668) | about 2 years ago | (#39701871)

I made a comment some months about how this will happen, as the reason why isp's are rolling out bandwidth limits and creating artificial scarcity. most(all) of the isp's doing this have such services of their own and this is an easy way to create incentive to use those services and not competing services. for the consumer it sucks bigtime of course - and the big isp's doing this have no incentive to upgrade their services to higher bandwidths since it works as a method to drive users towards their own services, which even if they don't make money(for the isp) surely count against somebodys bonus matrix plans(which are bullshit of course too).

this is the reason why they don't want net neutrality, why they don't want uncapped connections. they just want to promote their walled garden bullshit services. content providers don't mind as it let's them "monetize" the shows in the old fashion - meaning lots of regional licensing and their staff sitting at bullshit lunches getting hammered while selling something the consumer should be able to buy/view globally directly.

they should at least be forced to advertise the fact and be forced to advertise their internet connections as comcast-network connections.

not NET neutrality (2, Interesting)

jmkaza (173878) | about 2 years ago | (#39701877)

The NET in Net Neutrality implies Internet. When comcast is delivering you a Netflix/Hulu/Vudu etc. stream, they're pulling it from the open Internet to deliver it to you. When you're using their app, the can deliver the same content completely over their own network. You're not using the Internet, you're using Comcast's WAN, so no Internet bandwidth is being used, so it shouldn't be charged. If I'm streaming a movie from my PC to my TV, it doesn't go against my cap either, because it's using my isolated network, not the Internet.

Re:not NET neutrality (4, Informative)

TheSunborn (68004) | about 2 years ago | (#39702077)

Not really true. Comcasts WAN is part of the internet. Remember internet is a network of networks.

Re:not NET neutrality (1)

Crasoose (1621969) | about 2 years ago | (#39702129)

Vote parent up. It's not like Comcast is distributing this through their private LAN, their WAN is a part of the internet and fully connected to it.

Re:not NET neutrality (1, Interesting)

jmkaza (173878) | about 2 years ago | (#39702287)

"their WAN is part of the internet and fully connected to it"

No, it's not. If you've got Comcast as an ISP, check your computer's ip address and subnet mask. I'm sure you'll find that you're not routable from the Internet.

Re:not NET neutrality (5, Interesting)

NeutronCowboy (896098) | about 2 years ago | (#39702157)

This is exactly right. The Internet is by definition a network of private/public networks. The reason the Internet took off is because all those network operators realized that the benefits they gained from openly interoperating was much greater than the benefits they could leverage from offering a walled garden (AOL anyone).

Now that some private networks are big enough, and have gotten an idea of what people might want to do with a network, they're starting to wall off and charging rent. Comcast might be able to squeeze out some temporary profits, but it will most definitely be temporary. The Internet would collapse into a series of AOLs, innovation will die off, and it'll all be quiet until the concept of an open Internet is revived.

This is a classic case of killing the goose with golden eggs.

Re:not NET neutrality (1)

jmkaza (173878) | about 2 years ago | (#39702175)

I'd say the Internet is a Specific network of networks. If Comcast is receiving the shows from the studios via satellite telemetry, encoding them, then distributing them to your app via their own IP based network, no Internet connection is required. You're paying separately, via your cable subscription, for this network access. I have Comcast as my ISP, but I don't have cable. I have access to the Internet, but I don't have access to this.

Re:not NET neutrality (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39702313)

The problem is that this content is delivered over the same last mile connection as other Internet content, and the last mile is by far the most valuable part of Comcast's network. Comcast is using their last mile monopoly to push their otherwise non-monopoly VOD service.

That's the problem.

Re:not NET neutrality (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39702127)

so no Internet bandwidth is being used, so it shouldn't be charged

And if you hook up to a bt peer inside Comcast's network so no internet bandwidth is being used, should you be charged for that? Or is that different. Because Comcast charges you.

Re:not NET neutrality (1)

Terwin (412356) | about 2 years ago | (#39702283)

Internet is from IP which stands for Internet(work) Protocol
If you are crossing form one network(say Ethernet) to another(say DSL/Cable Internet/802.1 wireless/token ring/etc) you are on an internet
If that internet is connected to the Internet Backbone then you are on The Internet.
Unless Comcast's network is unconnected to the rest of the 'net, their network is part of The Internet.

For the consumer, The Internet is anything on the other side of their connection(be that a cable modem, DSL modem, ISP provided wireless router or their cellular connection.

If the Comcast service and Netflix/YouTube come in over the same IP connection, then treating them differently *IS* a net neutrality issue. The only justification for treating them differently is if they come in over different wires/media

Ok, I'll bite... (2)

DigitalSorceress (156609) | about 2 years ago | (#39701881)

Ok, I'll bite - I don't get one thing... I pay Comcast an obscene amount of money every month for Cable TV and Internet... why should they give a flying crap if I stream a show or not then? After all, I'm already paying for their Xfinity streamy stuff even if I don't take advantage of it.

I never even come close to my cap every month, but I'm still bothered by how a cap == "unlimited" and I don't understand why Comcast would care since they got the money anyway.

Oh, right - Capitolism now requires that every cporprate entity take the greediest possible short term position on any issue.

Grumble...

Same source? (1)

archer, the (887288) | about 2 years ago | (#39701883)

Just because Hastings watched the same episode, doesn't mean he watched it from the same source. If Comcast's Xfinity App is pulling from Hulu, then this would be a valid comparison. Basically, it comes down to one question: is bandwidth usage measured on the customer's side of the pipe, or on the side on which the data is entering the network?

Re:Same source? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39702085)

So then any data a customer downloads from another is free from the data cap?
Could netflix then place a server in such a users home?

"does not counting" does not compute (2, Insightful)

unitron (5733) | about 2 years ago | (#39701959)

It seems watching video through the Xfinity app on an Xbox does not counting towards your cap on your Comcast data plan.

"All your cap are belong to us"?

Everybody click on all the ads so that Slashdot can afford a proofreader.

Communist Whining (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39701995)

Whoever operates the last mile gets to do stuff like this. Waaaah! Cry me a fucking river.

Re:Communist Whining (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39702081)

Comcast employee alert!

Other things that are exempt (0)

GameboyRMH (1153867) | about 2 years ago | (#39702063)

Windows updates are also exempt from your cap on Comcast, and so is Facebook traffic IIRC. Comcast doesn't practice net neutrality, this has been known for some time. Choose another ISP, if you can.

Conspicuously absent from this comparison (1)

grasshoppa (657393) | about 2 years ago | (#39702069)

What is missing from this rant is the source of the video. Content closer to your customer is easier, typically, to deliver and therefore cheaper. And then we have peering agreements and a load of other stuff on top of it.

Maybe comcast and content providers should work on a way of providing a mirror on comcast's network for their customers, thus avoiding the cap issues.

Re:Conspicuously absent from this comparison (1)

magamiako1 (1026318) | about 2 years ago | (#39702145)

They could just take a portion of the obscene amount of money they charge me for internet and pay for their peering agreements.

huh? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39702125)

How is this different from a phone company charging less to call other customers in your home town vs. calling non-customers long distance where they have to pay another telco for the traffic and don't receive subscription income from the other party?

Net neutrality is not as trivial as made out (4, Interesting)

nedlohs (1335013) | about 2 years ago | (#39702197)

Way back when I had ADSL in australia as my internet traffic within the ISPs network didn't count to my quota. The ISP had a bunch of ftp mirrors, a bunch of game servers, and the subscribers ran a bunch of not legitimate at all P2P servers/clients that restricted to within the ISP IPs.

It had nothing to do with the ISP trying to leverage itself into having an edge over content providing competitors. That external traffic was a big part of their costs and so encouraging their users to use their mirrors and so on was good for them.

When I was at uni, AARNet traffic was cheaper than other national traffic which was cheaper than international traffic - in terms of what the university charged the department for their usage. I can't find any docs now of course, but a different university still has a slightly simpler but similar setup: http://www.adelaide.edu.au/its/quotas/internet/definition.html [adelaide.edu.au]

Again that wasn't the university trying to get content providers to pay them or trying to give an edge to themselves. It was just a reflection of the costs.

Now the US has far lower costs to start with and maybe they are low enough that it really doesn't matter and comcast are just trying to benefit their other business arms. But without knowing some of the vague details I don't think you can just ignore the non-jerk potential reasons.

Cap? 250GB/mo (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39702207)

Most customer's consumer cap is 250GB/mo of which covers 99% of users on comcast. I've personally gone over the limit twice and that is with running video 18/7 and many lan/servers etc. If you do reach the cap, comcast does nothing just notes it. This person sounds like they are just complaining to complain, or worse, work for netflix or hulu.

Why not redefine "CAP"? (1)

HockeyPuck (141947) | about 2 years ago | (#39702233)

If comcast just said that "CAP" was the amount of bandwidth that was used by a customer which left Comcast's network. Such that all traffic that stayed within Comcast's network did not count toward the customer's bandwidth limit.

Nobody said they had to measure it at the modem? Also, I don't believe how much traffic you use is part of this neutrality debate, I though it was around the speed at which it was used. So the same 1GB netflix movie is streamed at the same speed to the consumer as a 1GB xfinity movie.

Depends on the exact technical details (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39702263)

I think it really depends on the exact technical details but my understanding of the requirements of the system, the way CDN's are setup, etc suggests that the reality is that they are providing virtually the same service but exempting their own version from the bandwidth cap creating an unfair advantage for themselves.

Fact #1. Comcast's new service requires both a Cable TV subscription AND Cable Internet subscription. Their FAQ says that it won't work if you don't have internet through them. This means that they are using your cable modem connection to them to provide the content to the Xbox. This makes sense as there really isn't any other way to do it. I also assume that they aren't doing anything funny like setting up a second connection with the cable modem and assigning a separate ip address for the xbox as I'm not sure that it is possible and it seems overly complex and likely to break. This means that on the end users side they are similar enough that I can't see any justification for them being treated differently. Sure the normal on demand is naturally something different as it doesn't require cable internet subscription and last I checked actually used a temporary TV channel rather than streaming it over IP.

Fact #2. Movies streamed from Hulu or Netflix aren't generic internet traffic. These streams are coming from Content Delivery Networks (CDN) that have specific connections or machines hosted inside of Comcast's network specifically to provide this content so it really isn't a case of using up or not using up a bunch of bandwidth on their "internet" connection. These CDN's are setup specifically to make this stuff fast and efficient. Once again I don't really see any significant difference between data coming from a CDN's co-located server inside Comcast's network and their own server inside their network.

I'm all for net neutrality, but... (1)

Vrtigo1 (1303147) | about 2 years ago | (#39702275)

The difference is that the Xfinity app doesn't have to leave the Comcast network to get its' content. Netflix, etc, do.

Just think of them metering your bandwidth as it leave the Comcast network instead of when it leaves your house. As a network operator, I don't really see this as being evil. ISPs have to pay for bandwidth that leaves their network, while content inside their network is free. Naturally ISPs want their subscribers to pay for content they access outside the ISP's network since the ISP itself incurs costs for that.

With that having been said, I'm sure Comcast is large enough that it is probably peering with just about everyone, so they don't actually have to pay for that bandwidth, but still, the peering points are usually the choke points in a network, so it makes sense for them to institute caps that would be metered at those points versus at your modem.
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