Netflix CEO Reed Hastings decries his own deal with Comcast, pleads for net neutrality

Netflix-Reed-Hastings

Less than a month after Netflix CEO Reed Hastings made a deal with the ISP devil, Comcast, to pave the way for faster access to Netflix video streams for its customers, the outspoken leader got on his Netflix Blog soapbox to decry such deals, and make a strong plea for net neutrality.

While it’s easy to liken the deal Hastings struck with Comcast to feeding the lion at the door, it came at a time when Netflix, and the streaming video industry as a whole, was at an impasse. With seemingly no other choice than to watch its service flounder over Comcast pipelines, Netflix essentially agreed to a fealty tariff that would open the floodgates for its video streams – a move that bypasses third party connection services. The move was seen across the industry as a dangerous precedent, but with streaming speeds taking a nose dive in January, its hard to see any other pathway for Netflix to keep its services from folding altogether in some areas.

The conflict between Netflix and so called MSOs (Multi-system Operators) has been simmering for years, but the issue was pressed hard in January by a court decision in favor of Verizon, which shut down one of the FCC’s major avenues to secure net neutrality. Thanks to the decision, MSO’s were ostensibly granted permission to name their price for faster Internet speeds, arousing fears by consumer advocates that a pay-for-play scenario would arise, stifling innovation, and making it extremely difficult for smaller companies to compete on an even playing field.

Not surprisingly, shortly after Verizon’s victory, Netflix streaming speeds slowed to a snail’s pace on many ISPs, and there was even some compelling evidence that Verizon itself was intentionally throttling speeds to get Netflix to give in. Once Netflix agreed to the Comcast deal, there seems to have been enough blood in the water for Verizon to broker a similar deal, which is reportedly in the works

With all of this in mind, Hastings took to the Internet airwaves yesterday with an inspiring call to arms, channeling his best William Wallace impression to garner support for what he sees as a dangerous fork in the road for the future of the information superhighway. What will you do without Net Neutrality?!

Among Hastings’ points were some telling bits of information to take away. First of all, we found out in a roundabout way approximately how much Netflix is paying Comcast in the new deal: “Roughly the same arbitrary tax,” the company was already paying third party companies like Cogent and Level 3 to connect to Comcast’s pipelines. While chastising Comcast and others, Hastings also gave kudos to cable companies who are doing it right, such as Cablevision, which he praised for practicing “strong net neutrality.”

Perhaps more to the point at hand, however, was the fact that, in his mind, the Verizon courtroom victory wasn’t all that detrimental to net neutrality in the first place. In fact, Hastings implied that neutrality was already in peril before the decision, and in need of much stronger FCC guidelines to keep things even for the little guy. Finally, Hastings made the point that Netflix’s agreement to pay Comcast had nothing to do with trying to get a jump on other services in the growing streaming marketplace. Painting Netflix as the all-for-one hero in the grand fight, Hastings said of of paying for faster connection, “When we do so, we don’t pay for priority against competition, just for interconnection.”

Whether or not you take the CEO of the biggest streaming video site in the land at his word, the point is clear: Hastings made his deal knowing full well that it could cause an escalation in prices over time, and a precedent that would send the other sharks, such as Verizon, circling. However, he maintains there was no choice, other than to watch his customer base suffer, and possibly dwindle in the face of stifling connection speeds.

Whatever your feelings on the issue, it’s clear that MSOs have never been more powerful. And with Comcast – already the the nation’s biggest ISP – looking to lock down the second biggest in a deal to purchase Time Warner Cable for its very own, it seems something needs to be done to keep the Internet from turning into yet another playground for the super rich to do as they please.

As the FCC works on a new deal to keep net neutrality viable, Netflix looks to be fighting the good fight. Let’s hope someone wielding the sceptre wants to listen.

Gaming

Your PlayStation 4 game library isn't complete without these games

Looking for the best PS4 games out there? Out of the massive crop of titles available, we selected the best you should buy. No matter what your genre of choice may be, there's something here for you.
Smart Home

Get baked while you bake with these clever cannabis cooking gadgets

Ready to step up your edibles game? Here are the best cannabis cooking gadgets for your kitchen, from an "Instant Pot" for your cannabutter to the best grinders and decarbing devices on the market. Check out the full list for more.
Movies & TV

Netflix vs. Hulu: Which streaming service is right for you?

Netflix and Hulu are two of the biggest names in streaming entertainment. Our guide will help you decide which streaming service has the content you want and the best value for your limited budget.
Home Theater

Banish the buffer screen with these tips for silky smooth streaming video

If you’ve been having troubles with streaming Internet videos from Netflix and other services in HD, the problem may be your network. Here’s how to make sure your streaming video experience goes smoothly.
Home Theater

The best MP3 players of 2019 cram tons of music into a small package

Want to go for a run, but your phone is weighing you down? Don't sweat it. Can't fit your whole music library on your smartphone? No worries. Check out our list of the best MP3 players, and find one that works for you.
Home Theater

Get the most boom for your buck with the best headphones under $100

Everybody wants a bargain, and this list has a bunch. For those looking for a solid set of headphones without spending a big stack of cash, this list is is your starting point. Check out our picks for the best headphones under $100.
Product Review

Powerbeats3 wireless headphones are all about that bass, and not much else

With the new Powerbeats Pro grabbing headlines, it’s worth taking a look back at Beats’ previous flagship wireless earbuds. Do these popular, bass-happy workout buds still deserve your consideration?
Home Theater

Still listening on tinny, muffled TV speakers? Try one of our favorite soundbars

You no longer have to sacrifice sound for size when selecting home audio equipment. Check out our picks for the best soundbars, whether you're looking for budget options, pure power, smarts, or tons of features.
Home Theater

Set your ears free with the best completely wireless earbuds

If you can't stand the tangle of cords, or you're just excited about completely wireless earbuds, you're going to need some help separating the wheat from the chaff. Our list serves up the best true wireless earbuds around.
Deals

JBL and Sony wireless noise-canceling headphones get sharp price cuts

While Beats headphones are one of the better bluetooth headphones out there, they don't come cheap: you'll spend $300 or more for a pair. But there's no need to spend that kind of money, especially with a multitude of worthy alternatives…
Home Theater

Report: Apple AirPods 3 with noise cancellation coming later this year

A report that is decidedly light on details, suggests that Apple could introduce its next generation of fully-wireless earbuds as early as the end of 2019, with noise cancellation as its key feature.
Home Theater

Amazon drops prices on Bose speakers and sound systems by up to 50%

Amazon knocked $220 off the price of two Bose 301-V Direct/Reflecting bookshelf loudspeakers, a 50% discount. The 301-Vs are suited for music or for home theater systems. Amazon's sale also includes the Bose Solo 5 TV Sound System.
Home Theater

What’s new on Netflix and what movies and shows are leaving in May 2019

Our complete list of what's new on Netflix for May 2019 and which titles will be removed will help you catch up on your bingeing, and also ensure you don't miss any titles heading into the streaming ether.
Home Theater

Dream on: The concert of the future is in Vegas, and Aerosmith leads the charge

Aerosmith has partnered with THX, L-Acoustics, 1More, and Mixhalo to provide fans with an unparalleled, tech-fueled concert experience for the band’s 50th anniversary. Here’s how this one concert series could shape the future of live…