Netflix Boss Blasts Comcast Over Bandwidth Caps, Net Neutrality

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Netflix CEO Reed Hastings blasted Comcast alleging unfair implementation of net neutrality principles when it came to bandwidth caps for its Xfinity Internet service.

The Netflix CEO’s attack comes after he said he spent the weekend using video streaming apps, namely Netflix, HBO GO, Xfinity, and Hulu, when he noticed something: “When I watch video on my Xbox from three of these four apps, it counts against my Comcast internet cap. When I watch through Comcast’s Xfinity app, however, it does not count against my Comcast internet cap.”

Hastings posted his beef on Facebook to his 120,000 subscribers. Hastings called for Comcast to “apply caps equally, or not at all.”

Netflix CEO Reed Hastings. Credit: James Duncan Davidson/O'Reilly Media, Inc.
He detailed that “if I watch last night’s SNL episode on my Xbox through the Hulu app, it eats up about one gigabyte of my cap, but if I watch that same episode through the Xfinity Xbox app, it doesn’t use up my cap at all. The same device, the same IP address, the same Wi-Fi, the same internet connection, but totally different cap treatment.”

“In what way is this neutral?” he asked. The short answer would be that it’s probably not. By exempting the Xfinity On-Demand TV service for the Xbox 360 from periodic data caps, Comcast is effectively giving an advantage to its own service over others such as Netflix, which count towards your 250GB monthly data cap.

However, Comcast has a strong defense of its own too: since the service is delivered via its own private IP network, and not over the public part of the Internet, the company can go around the net neutrality principles, where all services are equal in the eye of the Internet services provider. On its FAQ pages, Comcast explains: “The Xbox 360 running our XFINITY TV app essentially acts as an additional cable box for your existing cable service, and our data usage threshold does not apply.”

Yet the fact that Comcast doesn’t account Xfinity traffic to your monthly data cap is a boon for consumers. This means that you don’t have to worry how many hours of streaming video you watch until you hit the cap, and then get throttled or have to pay extra -- as long as you watch Xfinity. But companies like Netflix, who do not own the cable to people’s homes, are put at a disadvantage by Comcast’s preferential treatment for its own services (who can blame them?).

This probably won’t be the last time we hear from Hastings on net neutrality, just as this wasn’t the first time. Last month the Netflix CEO took to Facebook, commenting on Comcast’s net neutrality practices regarding the HBO GO app on the Xbox.

Should Comcast count Xfinity on-demand for Xbox towards your monthly data cap? Sound off in the comments.


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This story, "Netflix Boss Blasts Comcast Over Bandwidth Caps, Net Neutrality" was originally published by PCWorld.

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