Netflix has agreed to pay Comcast, the nation’s largest home Internet carrier, to ensure its online videos are streamed smoothly.
The arrangement highlights the vast power of Comcast, which is in the middle of an ambitious expansion effort, and how the company’s dominance in the broadband Internet market can influence consumers’ Web experience.
In a multi-year deal, Comcast will be paid to directly connect Netflix servers to the carrier’s network, removing third parties that bog down the delivery of streaming-video traffic.
Terms of the arrangement were not disclosed, but the deal could set the stage for similar payments by Netflix and other deep-pocketed Web companies to the Internet service providers that deliver content into homes and on mobile devices, analysts say.
“This deal opens a lot of different doors so that any firm has to pay more for back-end connections in order to take advantage of higher last-mile speeds” into homes, said Harold Feld, a senior vice president at the consumer advocacy group Public Knowledge.
Comcast said the deal does not give preferential treatment to Netflix’s videos. The firm said it regularly charges Web companies and other third parties that route traffic to its 22 million home subscribers. Netflix’s deal is no different from the many interconnection deals that it and other Internet service providers such as Verizon Communications create for the routing of Web traffic, Comcast said.
As part of a condition for its 2011 merger with NBC Universal, Comcast is prohibited from blocking or slowing down traffic for a profit.
SOURCE: Cecilia Kang
The Washington Post