Netflix makes last plea to FCC for Net Neutrality, calls out Comcast and Verizon

Protesters hold a rally in front of the FCC headquarters in Washington D.C. on May 15th.
As the public comment period comes to an end over the FCC’s controversial plan to allow for so-called Internet “fast lanes,” Netflix released a scathing 28-page document denouncing the proposal. The submission is perhaps Netflix’s most fervent argument against the FCC’s new proposal yet, saying the “Internet is at a crossroads” and that the new rules would create an Internet “characterized by legalized discrimination” and “gamesmanship.” Netflix also calls out both Comcast and Verizon specifically, blaming them for slowing its streams.

The FCC’s proposed plan would allow Internet service providers (ISPs) like Comcast and Verizon to charge some companies for access to faster connections. It has spurred opposition from a wide array of companies and advocates of a free and open Internet, from major corporations like Netflix and Google, to consumer advocates, and throngs of individual users. The opponents fear the “fast lane” proposal’s pay-for-priority system unfairly favors the rich and powerful, and could lead to the end of the Internet in its current form.

Netflix outlined those fears in its submission, and took things even further, raising concerns that the system would create a motive for ISPs to halt infrastructure in order to extort payment from those who want to reach their subscribers, like mafiosos.

“Allowing ISPs to monetize congestion will likely create more congestion, threatening the current model that has made the Internet so successful,” the submission states.

“Furthermore, pay-for-priority arrangements undermine an ISP’s incentive to continue building capacity into its network. Prioritization has value only in a congested network. After all, there can be no “prioritization” in an uncongested, best-efforts network; all (data) packets necessarily move at the same speed. As the Commission has acknowledged, this creates a perverse incentive for ISPs to forego network upgrades in order to give prioritization value.”

Throughout the submission, Netflix continued its condemnation of both Verizon and Comcast, two ISP rivals it has engaged in several public spats with. The report again puts the blame on the massive communications giants for slowing its video packets at the so-called “last mile,” or the point at which network backbones branch off to subscriber homes.

“Discrimination and unfair access charges at interconnection points are not theoretical,” the report reads. “As the Commission is aware, Netflix and its members have been impacted by interconnection congestion, particularly on Comcast’s and Verizon’s networks.” The submission shows data which implicates Comcast for degrading Netflix video to “nearly VHS level,” and claims Verizon’s failure to upgrade its networks is responsible for causing Netflix data to enter the network at a “drip-like pace.”

Netflix has entered into agreements with both Comcast and Verizon to pay the providers for a more direct connection to their subscribers. The most recent back and forth debate between Netflix and Verizon had both companies pointing the finger at each other for the snail’s pace at which Netflix video is transferred on Verizon’s FiOS service. Apart from its call for Net Neutrality, Netflix used the FCC submission to get in more jabs at Verizon for the issues.

“There can be no doubt that Verizon owns and controls the interconnections that mediate how fast Netflix servers respond to a Verizon Internet access consumer’s request,” the submission states.

Whether or not Netflix is as altruistic as it appears to be is also up for debate, however. While it has been a major proponent for keeping the Internet fair and open for all, it also has used the debate to attack its ISP foes at every turn, mixing the issue of Internet fast lanes, with the argument over who is to blame for its own slowing streaming speeds at the last mile.

While Netflix claims it holds no responsibility for the issues, a recent report from Light Reading points out that it is likely that the company could increase streaming speeds by purchasing more transit from its third-party delivery system to help alleviate the issue. Instead, Netflix prefers to push its Open Connect system, which is designed to connect its servers directly to Internet service providers. Verizon and Comcast have both refused to use Open Connect, while ISPs that have adopted it, like Cablevision, rank at the top of Netflix’s Speed Index reports.

While there may be plenty of blame to go around for Netflix’s streaming woes, there is no doubt that the FCC’s proposals for Internet fast lanes could have a major impact on the Web as we know it. As the period for open debate comes to a close this Friday, those who fear the end of the current system have raised their voices. According to The Verge, the FCC has already received more than 780,000 comments since it opened the public debate — and the door is still open.

Emerging Tech

Awesome Tech You Can’t Buy Yet: Illuminated keyboards and a retro gaming console

Check out our roundup of the best new crowdfunding projects and product announcements that hit the web this week. You may not be able to buy this stuff yet, but it sure is fun to gawk!
Emerging Tech

Ready to roll: Mars 2020 rover fitted with wheels ahead of mission next year

The Mars 2020 rover is getting ready for its trip to the red planet next year. The latest step in readying the rover is installing its wheels and suspension system, which engineers at NASA have been doing this month.
Emerging Tech

Walmart using A.I.-powered cameras to spot dodgy shoppers at self-checkouts

Walmart is using computer vision technology at some of its stores in an effort to spot sneaky behavior at its self-checkout counters. The A.I.-powered cameras automatically identify any dodgy activity and then alert staff.
Cars

Bentley will offer a hybrid powertrain on every model by 2023

Bentley is preparing to electrify its entire lineup. The storied British automaker will offer a hybrid version of every model by 2023, and will launch its first electric car by 2025. The Bentley Bentayga Hybrid SUV will kick things off.
Home Theater

Netflix Recommended TVs: What does it mean, and why do you want one?

Netflix Recommended TVs will have faster startup and playback. Our guide gives a quick breakdown of Netflix's criteria for recommending current TVs and explain what this means for you.
Movies & TV

Best new shows and movies to stream this week: Neon Genesis Evangelion and more

Need something to watch this weekend? Check out our list of the best new shows and movies to stream right now. On the list this week: Neon Genesis Evangelion, The Edge of Democracy, and more.
Home Theater

Block the outside world and tune into your own with the best in-ear headphones

Over-the-ear headphones offer top-flight sound, but they're not so easy to take along with you. If you're looking to upgrade your portable sound, check out our favorite in-ear headphones — there's a model for every user and every budget.
Deals

You won’t want to miss this fantastic deal on a 50-inch Vizio 4K TV

You’d think a 4K TV that costs less than $300 would lack all of the desirable features that come bundled on higher-end models, but when it comes to Vizio that couldn’t be further from the truth. Just look at the 50-inch D-Series, which…
Deals

Walmart takes $300 off the price of this 49-inch Sony Bravia 4K HDR TV

The Sony 49-inch BRAVIA X900F 4K HDR TV comes at a high price tag, but with its powerful performance and smart functionalities, it’s definitely a worthwhile investment. Get yours now on Amazon at a discounted price of $998.
Home Theater

Find out which Hulu option is right for you with our handy guide

Hulu is a great way to catch up on your favorite shows, binge award-winning original series, and watch sports and other live TV, but you need to choose the right subscription. Having trouble deciding? We're here to help.
Home Theater

Best Prime Day headphone deals: What we expect from Amazon in 2019

Solitude doesn't come cheap, but Amazon has something up its sleeve that will make it a tad more affordable: Prime Day. That's right — the retailer's discounting top-rated headphones for its online shopping bonanza.
Deals

Walmart knocks $600 off of this massive 65-inch TCL Roku 4K TV

Have enough space for a 65-inch television and a credit card with at least $60 on it? Flip the plastic over to the numbered side, because Walmart has knocked $600 off the TCL 5-Series.
How-To

Optimize your new Apple AirPods with these tips and tricks

Here are some tips, tricks, and lesser-known features from Apple's first pair of fully wireless earbuds, allowing you to get the most out of the company's world of cordless sound.
Movies & TV

Want to make Netflix browsing even easier? Try this useful trick

If you know exactly what category of film you're looking for on Netflix, you'll find this hack for the streaming service useful. It allows you to manually browse genres and subgenres of interest.