According to networking company Level 3 Communications, Comcast just couldn't wait for its NBC deal to go through before getting all jerky with the access to online video, telling Level 3 on November 19th that it would need to pay a fee to deliver video to Comcast customers. Level 3 delivers videos from many companies over its networks, but the timing is particularly notable since on November 11th it signed upbandwidth-chewing Netflix as a major customer.
At first glance, this seems like the sort of thing that would signal the end of days. Well, the end of net neutrality, anyway. Looking back, it can't get much worse than realizing that 95 of the candidates backing net neutrality lost on election day. I'm mentally prepared for Verizon to add a streaming video cost to my internet package any day of the week. I'm sure it will be worse on the Comcast end of things, since they now pretty much own TV networks. Good luck with that, friends!
But, hold the phone! Things may not be what they seem. Comcast has responded via their SVP of External Affairs. Seems like a made up job, but I digress;
Until Level 3 fomented this dispute, Comcast and Level 3 exchanged Internet traffic as part of a commercial interconnection agreement, under which Comcast paid Level 3 for interconnection facilities. Although the parties exchanged traffic at a ratio of about 2:1, with Comcast terminating more of Level 3's traffic, this was well within the industry's established bounds for "roughly balanced" traffic, and they exchanged their on-net traffic on a settlement-free basis. At some point, we are told, some of the traffic sent by Level 3 to Comcast came from CDN services operated by Level 3. Because this traffic was within the traditional industry criteria for "roughly balanced," this did not raise any issues for Comcast.
Now, Level 3 has decided to reinvent itself as a major CDN, in competition with other
commercial CDN players, all of whom pay for transmission of their traffic on Comcast's and others' networks. And in so doing, Level 3 would more than double the amount of traffic it sends to Comcast -- which would result in a traffic imbalance that could be in the range of about 5:1.
Phew. So it seems like it's not as bad as we feared. It also looks like Level 3 needs to relax with their streaming of data. BUT, this is helpful. it keeps the net neutrality issue in peoples minds. I don't want to live in a world where I need to pay my ISP an email tax just to check mail. Do you?
Twitter your congressperson!
Don't fret, though. Trigon won't approach Comcast levels of destroying your hopes and dreams. In fact, we can help those dreams happen! Just so long as those dreams involve creating a solid IT Infrastructure, and a heaping helping of security. Sweet!