OpenMedia

Stop the Secrecy

Google, Netflix, and Facebook ask FCC to intervene in fight over Internet 'congestion'

Wed, 07/16/2014 - 17:14 -- Eva Prkachin

We're at a critical point in the fight to preserve the innovative, open Internet. Check out where the next battle lines will be drawn and learn more at https://OpenMedia.org/SlowLane

Article by Ben Popper for The Verge

The Internet Association, a trade group composed of some of the biggest tech companies in the world, has filed comment with the FCC asking it to intervene in the conflict over payments being demanded by big ISPs. According to a report in The Hill, companies like Comcast and Verizon are charging Netflix and others for direct interconnection to their networks, a move which allows these companies to bypass congestion and avoid service issues like video buffering. The group wrote in its letter that "interconnection should not be used as a choke point to artificially slow traffic or extract unreasonable tolls."

This is the latest volley in a war of words between big internet companies and the ISPs that carry their data into customers' homes. On Friday Verizon published a chart illustrating what it said was the real problem. According to Verizon companies like Netflix are intentionally allowing congestion to develop by trying to push massive amounts of data through a few chosen providers. If Netflix wanted to, Verizon alleges, it could simply spread that data across more third-party transit providers, a slightly more expensive solution that would alleviate the bottlenecks that are causing performance issues. Netflix, on the other hand, says the ISPs are refusing to perform simple upgrades to their system in an attempt to create bottlenecks and extract payment.

The reality of the situation is that the massive growth in over-the-top video services like Netflix has been so dramatic it has overwhelmed the longstanding business arrangements that kept internet traffic flowing for years. Companies like Cogent, which carry data from Netflix servers to the networks of companies like Comcast and Verizon, have long had a settlement-free peering relationship with the big ISPs. The means the two parties exchange traffic without payment. The problem is that those peering arrangements called for a certain ratio of exchange. In many cases this allowed a 2–1 or even 3–1 ratio of downstream-to-upstream traffic. But Netflix's massive quantity of streaming video, especially during peak hours when millions are tuning in to a new episode of shows like Orange is The New Black, has overwhelmed these peering arrangements.

- Read more at The Verge