As the story continues to unfold, some rather disappointing facts are coming to light that are quickly cheapening the calls for Net Neutrality.
Comcast’s toll that Level 3 so publicly and vociferously decried actually is turning out to be the blow-back from an existing peering arrangement between the two.
Peering is when two entities allow each the use of the other’s broadband infrastructure at significantly reduced rates or for free. The catch is that the bandwidth usage needs to be about even on both sides. Given Level 3′s deal with Netflix, Comcast was going to find itself overly burdened carrying the extra traffic.
So, it appears Comcast wasn’t wholly out of line in asking for some compensation from Level 3.
Level 3 has cried wolf on a very sensitive issue. This will undoubtedly be fodder for those against Net Neutrality.
Regardless, things still stink. One thing we have learned from all this is that the concept of the open Internet hangs in a fragile balance. Comcast has shown how easy it would be for them to effectively turn-off Netflix for their subscribers.
While Comcast may be in the right on this particular issue with Level 3, there is still the elephant in the room. The broadband infrastructure in the US is shit. Telecoms and Cable companies were given over $200 billion dollars throughout the 1990′s, as well as having the FCC reclassify the Internet from phone to information service (which removed many restrictions and regulations) in exchange for what was supposed to be massive broadband build-out.
That build-out never appeared. The telecoms and cable companies got everything they wanted.
The consumer got nothing.
Today we’re effectively held hostage inside each fiefdom the ISPs have built for themselves. Even though I pay monthly for a connection to the internet who knows what my ISP will decide to block tomorrow – and no one can stop them.