Archive for category Opinion

A better analogy of net-neutrality

I recently saw a post on slashdot about “Why you’ll pay for netflix even if you don’t subscribe to netflix”. The source for this claim is a fox news article and an opinion piece on a random thinktank website.

Basically these article are just spewing some of the same old anti-neutrality arguments using Netflix and Open Connect as an example… but these arguments really drive me nuts because they don’t make any sense at all. Consider the following argument from the foxnews article:

Tim Hanlon, a digital media consultant at The Vertere Group, says “bandwidth hogs” like Netflix should pay more for using the infrastructure than smaller companies. Everyone can drive on the highway, after all, but an 18-wheeler with a commercial load has to pay more in fees.

No, that’s not how the internet works. When I watch a movie on Netflix, my computer runs a program which opens an internet connection and asks Netflix to send me movie bits. Netflix is polite enough to then respond to my request by sending those bits over the connection I created. Netflix isn’t a bandwidth hog, it’s users are.

The road network analogy is getting really old. See, a better analogy goes like this: When I ask Netflix to watch a movie, it’s a lot like driving to the store. I drive to the store in the car I paid for on the road network that my tax dollars pay for. If I want to get there faster, maybe I take a toll road and pay some extra money. If I want faster internet, I pay Comcast more money. Saying that Netflix should pay more because they’re driving 18-wheelers is ridiculous because Netflix isn’t driving anything. They don’t try to send movies to random machines all over the internet which aren’t asking and “clog up the pipes”, they send bits in direct response to a request. When I look at my server logs, among the things I don’t see are a bunch of Netflix-owned IP addresses sending me random pieces of movies I didn’t ask for.

Saying that Netflix should pay ISPs for their content because people ask for a lot of bits from them, is like saying that IKEA should pay the federal government because everyone who goes to IKEA buys heavy things and wears more on the roads then people who drive to work without a 400 lb steel filing cabinet in their trunk.

Actually, it’s even more ridiculous. See an ISP is really like the entire vehicle transport industry all rolled into one. Saying that an ISP should be allowed to charge companies for distributing profitable content is like saying that Ford should be allowed to charge IKEA because people use ford trucks to get things from IKEA. In fact, they should be allowed to charge grocery stores more than IKEA because people buy stuff from grocery stores more than they buy stuff from IKEA. Ford should be able to charge any brick and mortar business in proportion to the amount of stuff that people buy at that business because Ford’s customers use their product to go to these shops and get stuff. Gas companies should be allowed to charge them too because people use gas to go to stores.


Now, let’s consider this argument

“Instead of raising the price of its own service to cover the additional costs, Netflix wants to offload its additional costs onto all Internet consumers,” Campbell told “That’s good for Netflix and bad for everyone else in the Internet economy.”

No, they want to offload the costs on consumers who want to pay more for the very large bandwidth required to use the new service. Which they should.

“If ISPs raise prices due to the extra costs of Netflix’s new service, ISPs would have to raise prices for all subscribers,” Campbell told In other words, Time Warner can’t pass on the cost only to Netflix subscribers; every Time Warner customer would have to pay more.

I’m glad foxnews isn’t my ISP. That’s is the most ridiculous business tactic I’ve ever heard. Let’s think about this. I’m running an ISP and netflix has offered me this deal. If I host some servers which store netflix movies then my customers can access those movies directly from those servers meaning all of that traffic is over physical wires that I own. If I dont host these servers than when my customer wants netflix bits I have to pay to have those bits sent over wires that I dont own. Making the deal with neflix will increase my profits if the amount of traffic that I’m not paying for is greater than the cost of installing the extra infrastructure. If I choose to increase prices for my other consumers, it won’t be because I have to.

“While they call it ‘Open Connect,’ Netflix is actually closing off access to some of its content while seeking unprecedented preferential treatment from ISPs,” a company spokesman told industry magazine Multichannel News.

Nonsense. They are offering a service to their customers which sends lots and lots and lots of bits only if their internet service provider has a system setup to actually get that many bits to their user. If they offered that service to everyone, then that would be setting up a program whereby their consumers would be asking for more bits than the connection can actually support. What they are doing is providing a way to deliver content which surpases the average capability of the internet

For Campbell, the problem is that Federal regulations prevent ISPs from charging Netflix subscribers for the costs of its VIP lane.

No they dont! Federal regulations allow ISPs to charge users of more bandwidth more money than users of less bandwidth. Netflix bit’s are no different than the bits that my machine has sent in order to deliver this page that you requested. Or perhaps foxnews believes that Comcast is in violation of Federal regulations.


“There will be higher prices for everyone and the potential for fewer choices of video streaming services in the future as Netflix consolidates its dominance in the market,” he says.

Seriously? No. Shut up. Netflix is sharing their hardware designs and open source software components… meaning that once an ISP adds infrastructure to support Open Connect, any competing video streaming service (or even non-competing ones) can utilize that same infrastructure to solve the same problem.

Honestly now… this is driving me crazy.

P.S. I got rid of Netflix because they never made a Linux client. Also because the streaming selection sucks. Also, pay more for Netflix in HD? No thanks… I’m pretty sure I wont like trailer park boys regardless of how many bits they use to send it to me.

P.P.S. Amazon’s streaming video service supports Linux. Thanks Amazon.

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