A little more than a week ago Level 3 bent to the demands of Comcast and sealed the deal that Net Neutrality is really dead.

To avoid interruptions to content carried by Level 3, Level 3 was forced to pay Comcast to deliver traffic to Comcast customers.  Traffic that Comcast customers requested.  Looks like Comcast is now an Internet toll booth operator and charging on both ends for access to and from it’s customers.  Comcast is billing for both ends of it’s network, billing based on CONTENT.  Bollocks.

Traditionally, Peering agreements allow the free flow of traffic between networks of this size.  It’s logical that I let you give me traffic for my customers and I give you traffic for your customers, without charge either way.  That’s what Comcast and Level 3 had, up until the beginning of this month.  Peering agreements are done by companies for the benefit of end users as well as their respective bottom lines.  In some cases, there can be an imbalance between the flow of traffic and special arrangements are made to compensate the sender of traffic.  That usually results on the sender billing the recipient for providing transit service.  So why is Comcast is taking the stance that they can bill Level 3?  Comcast feels that they’re getting more traffic from Level3 than Level 3 is getting from Comcast.  Duh, that is exactly what SHOULD be happening because Comcast serves end users who EAT traffic and Level 3 is a wholesaler.

Let me explain what Comcast should already know.  End users suck bandwidth, morning, noon and night.

For us, the ratio of downloaded traffic to uploaded traffic is 4:1.  That’s traffic that our end users are viewing, streaming, reading, watching or listening to.  They’re not pushing anything when compared to what they download and it’s only been growing.  And growing and growing!

Comcast has millions of end users and Level 3 is a wholesale carrier of Internet traffic.  But since there is an imbalance, I would have expected Level 3 to charge Comcast for their connection to Level 3, just like we buy a connection to Level 3.  But I think Comcast has an ulterior motive.  Or maybe two.

When a company makes a move like this, I wonder what caused the change to occur and in this case it’s blatantly obvious.  Comcast is pissed that Level 3 struck a deal to carry Netflix content.  I imagine that this just gets in the craw of Comcast, who would prefer to have their end users watch streaming content from a Comcast owned service. Specifically, a service Comcast can charge their end users for.  That’s it.  Would Comcast have done this to Level 3 if Netflix wasn’t involved?  I highly doubt it.  But Comcast can claim imbalance in the peering relationship and somehow charge Level 3.  Like the traffic imbalance didn’t exist before the Level 3 / Netflix deal…  Hahahaha.

What we know is this:  Comcast has end users.  End users cause traffic imbalances.   The peering relationship between Level 3 and Comcast has been out of balance for a LONG time, to the detriment of Level 3, who would normally charge a customer for Transit services.

Another note, it’s not like all the Comcast end users are going to start watching Netflix just because Level 3 is carrying the traffic.   Most Comcast end users haven’t got a clue who Level 3 is.   All they know is, Netflix is where to watch movies.  The agreement between Netflix and Level 3 isn’t going to make anyone go watch content at Netflix.

Yet another note; the Netflix / Level 3 deal doesn’t add any traffic for Comcast.  That traffic was already coming into Comcast, from any number of providers who had connections to Netflix.  And remember that Peering agreement?  With that in place, it hasn’t cost Comcast anything to have Level 3 carrying the Netflix traffic.  Netflix traffic was, and still is, being delivered to end users, the only difference now is that Level 3 is PAYING Comcast to deliver content that the end users of Comcast are requesting.  And If Level 3 doesn’t pay, then Comcast end users get hurt. And who does Comcast get to blame?  Level 3.

Comcast is making everyone pay to play.  Comcast is making End Users pay to get access to Netflix.  And Comcast is making content companies (like Netflix, albeit indirectly) pay to get access to Comcast end users.  Wow.  It finally happened and it only took 10 years.

So who needs Net Neutrality?  We all do.  Even the big boys.



—– UPDATE —–

I wrote this post Tuesday evening and left the office assuming all would be well if the FCC does what it should at it’s next meeting.   This morning, I read with excitement that the FCC has added Net Neutrality to their Dec 21st meeting agenda.  WooHoo!   Upon deeper reading it looks like the FCC has ALSO bent over for Comcast. To outline the FCC position, Chairman Julius Genachowski will outline his proposals in a speech today.  Let’s hope he has some testicular fortitude and stands up for the consumer.  Watch for further updates.

Some further reading that really pisses me off intrigues me:

Connected Planet: Net Neutrality and what’s at stake

FCC delays Net Neutrality vote — again

The Press Release from Level 3 regarding Comcast shenanigans

Comcast puts up a Tollbooth

This fracas is all about the MONEY!