Here’s why net neutrality matters. It doesn’t just hurt the home user watching Netflix. It also hurts businesses that just so happen to share the Internet pipeline with Netflix. So when Comcast, Verizon or other cable providers interfere with Netflix bandwidth, they also screw businesses like NEPC of Boston.
Cogent has assembled its network by leasing segments of fiber across the country and it aggressively charges less in order to gain more customers; it connects to 1400 office buildings and would like to have more data centers on its list. NEPC’s problem was that it had bought the first flavor of service from Cogent: NEPC is one of many professional services firms (legal, financial, advertising, consulting) located in multi-tenant office buildings that use Cogent for Internet access.
But Cogent was being systematically disfavored by Verizon, Comcast, and the other providers because of its sale of the second flavor of service — transit — to bandwidth-intensive Netflix. Both flavors of services look the same from the perspective of a fiber network; they’re just packets flowing over Cogent’s leased or owned facilities. When the Cogent transit network seeks to interconnect with the Comcast or Verizon eyeball network to hand off packets, things can evidently go wrong. NEPC’s communications cataclysm was a byproduct of the battle between eyeball and transit networks. In order to make life miserable for Netflix and force that company to share its revenue with the eyeball networks, Comcast and the others had simultaneously made life miserable for many other companies.
Comcast’s response: this is business as usual.
A non-profit research corporation, M-Labs, after a careful longitudinal analysis of web traffic, has found the smoking gun. There is no denying that Comcast, Verizon and the other big media/Internet providers are choking bandwidth in their own self-interests. And, as the quote above shows, they could care less if consumers and smaller corporations get screwed in the process.
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