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Being a college student these days, we’re all connected all the time. Many of us in class take notes on our laptops instead of pen and paper. We’re always on our phones getting texts, checking Twitter, and replying to various other social media platforms. As a college student, our connection also leads to entertainment. After a hard day of classes, before we hit the books or even after, many of us will queue up streaming video via Hulu or Netflix.
Netflix has recently announced a deal with Comcast which will provide a high quality Netflix experience for years to come (Macke, 2014). Wait a second though! We are already paying Internet Service Providers (ISPs) mega bucks for our internet, so why is Netflix entering this agreement with them when we already pay for these services? Well, that’s part of the outcry! Many have fears over the whole net neutrality argument that has been going on for about a year or so now and whether this is violating it. For those that have no idea what net neutrality is, in short all ISPs and governments should treat the internet equally and not discriminating by charging differently for other services.
The reason this agreement may violate the net neutrality is that Comcast is charging Netflix to guarantee that their services stream high quality. According to Macke of Yahoo, Netflix “opted to release the entire second season of the program at once, causing download delays and triggering widespread accusations of so-called “throttling,” or slowing of data feeds, by ISPs” (Macke, 2014). The fact that Comcast was already throttling meant that they most likely forced Netflix’s hand to have to pay a “fee” in order to make sure their service works the way it should for Comcast’s subscribers.
Based on this information, many subscribes are wondering if Netflix may change their rates. Macke says that Netflix is already paying third parties and intermediaries for much of their throughput from their source to your house and that the Comcast deal supposedly gets rid of the intermediaries (Macke, 2014).
What does this mean in the long run though and why should we all care? One of the arguments for net neutrality is that it keeps the internet open and accessible for all people. The worry now is that Comcast will have better streaming for Netflix which will drive customers to abandon their current ISPs in favor of Comcast. In addition to Comcast’s recent acquisition of Time Warner, this accounts for 1/3 of the US internet usage coming out of a single company. All of this together is worrisome because it could lead to a monopoly.
As a user of Netflix and a proponent of net neutrality, I am worried where this will lead us. What does everyone else think?
Macke, J. (2014, February 24). Chill-out: Netflix paying comcast for streaming is a win for consumers. Retrieved from http://finance.yahoo.com/blogs/breakout/chill-out–netflix-paying-comcast-for-streaming-is-a-win-for-consumers-145347877.html