According to The Wall Street Journal, Netflix agreed to pay Comcast for direct access to the Internet service provider’s broadband network. In typical big-business fashion, neither of the company’s confirmed of denied that money had exchanged hands.
Comcast, recently in the news for its purchase of Time Warner (number 2 ISP), is set to become the largest Internet service provider in the United States. This is a fact that has concerned critics who worry it may pressure content creators to pay for preferential treatment and inhibit content generation.
Netflix is extremely dependent on service providers for its streaming video service. The company’s recent unprecedented success has caused the company to create close to a third of North America’s Internet traffic.
In general, providers have struggled with attempting to keeping up with Netflix’s growth, and appeared to be unwilling to assist Netflix without some sort of compensation. Because of this, Netflix’s speeds on Comcast and Verizon have taken hits
This deal seems to have been executed in a subtle manner, behind closed doors. I feel as though the companies know they are on a slippery slope. While it may not seem monumental, this business deal may mean the end of net neutrality and the beginning of a tiered system of access within which creativity and idea-generation are inhibited.
On a more positive note, a representative from Comcast asserted that customers should see rapid improvement in Netflix performance over the coming weeks. So no more super long buffering periods before your episode of Orange is the New Black.