AT&T Joins Comcast & Verizon in Milking Protection Money from Netflix

Late last month, AT&T and Netflix announced an “agreement” that will supposedly ensure higher quality and higher speeds for streaming content from Netflix. In the works since May, the deal was finalized for an undisclosed amount. I’d guess at least three hundred bucks changed hands.

Pay Up or Slow Down

The AT&T deal comes hot on the heels of similar “agreements” Netflix has made with Comcast and Verizon. I write “agreements” with quotation marks because it’s clearly not something both parties actually agree on.

It’s more akin to a modernized version of The Godfather, with ISPs getting protection money from Netflix to make sure everything runs smoothly. The ISPs essentially said, “It would be a cryin’ shame if your customers’ streamin’ and download speeds and quality went down the toilet. Ya might lose customers. Pay us every month and we’ll make sure that don’t happen. You don’t pay, things might get broke.”

The system is as broken as this poorly-handled DVD.

The system is as broken as this mishandled DVD.

Netflix rightly pointed out that the ISPs’ customers have already paid for the bandwidth, and that the additional money AT&T, Verizon, and Comcast are now receiving is nothing more than what it is—a bullying tactic used to line their pockets. Netflix has urged the FCC to look into the matter in its ongoing net neutrality discussions.

No Guarantees at All (Surprise, Surprise!)

Shockingly, even after forking over the protection money that Verizon demanded (a deal that was struck in April), Netflix’s streaming speeds over the ISP’s network have continued to decline. Both sides blame the other for the ongoing struggles, saying the way traffic is routed is the culprit.

Netflix has asked that ISPs use Open Connect, its private content delivery system that uses edge caches to provide reliable streaming content. Instead, jerks that they are, Verizon, Comcast, and AT&T have continued to use their own peering networks.

After all, if they were to rely on Netflix’s network, how could the ISPs keep intentionally deteriorating the signal quality and thereby force Netflix to pay up again in a year or two? And all the while, they continue to collect monthly fees from their customers, getting paid twice over for their gods-awful service.

Photo credit: swanksalot / Foter / Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 2.0 Generic (CC BY-SA 2.0)

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