Net Neutrality and the Cord Cutter


The recent court decision against Net Neutrality got me thinking about something reader/blogger Len suggested just recently:  don’t use a Cable provider for your broadband. If this decision sticks than we definitely need to consider that advice.

speed lmit Kt Ann Flickr

photo: Kt Ann Flickr

If the telecoms can selectively throttle OTT (over the top) video then  Netflix, YouTube, and lots of 3rd party streamers may suddenly get more expensive or difficult to view.  So I set out to find a provider that is totally independent from  the pay TV business. But is that possible? I’m not sure.

Anyone with the motivation and resources can start up an ISP (internet service provider). There are thousands of  big and small companies around the US you probably never heard of. As an example tw telecom is the “third-largest Business Ethernet provider in the U.S” but many of the people I talk to never heard of them.  One problem: tw telecom only provides services to businesses, not homes. Too bad.

Then there are smaller independents like in my area Webpass, that  offers 100Mbs for $50/month. The first problem here is it looks like Webpass mainly serves downtown.  But the other  issue I’m speculating on is how Webpass and others like them connect to the internet. The odds are they are buying “wholesale services” from guess who? AT&T, TWC or COX.

If Webpass buys a 10Gb pipe from AT&T and chops it up for their customers does that prevent AT&T from throttling packets on the way to Netflix? Thae answer probably  depends on the agreement between Webpass and AT&T. Which leads to another interesting scenario:

If the big boys do start screwing with our bandwidth on a per service basis, they might actually push the consumer to jump to an independent that vows not to.  And since   cable operators are now losing  video subscribers and gaining broadband only subscribers, they should think carefully before tinkering with neutrality.




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7 Responses to Net Neutrality and the Cord Cutter

  1. Bob says:

    Hopefully that will be the impetus for other companies to spring up, it just makes sense. Why wouldn’t Netflix become their own internet provider. I’d compare it to pro and sports college teams creating their own tv networks and bypassing a third party. There are a few companies that provide wireless home internet with different packages, Netzero and Freedompop being two of them.

    • Greg says:

      I’m not sure what Netflix is doing but they probably do own some part of the infrastructure right now just to be able to launch all that content. What they likely don’t have is a DWDM national backbone like the major providers do. I don’t even know if Netflix has multiple master head-ends or servers around the country. Would be an interesting study.

    • Len Mullen says:

      That’s a pretty optimistic article, Bob. There is plenty of empirical data to contradict the author’s views. Netflix is already at war with providers. Check out their ISP ratings…

      The US is at the bottom of their rankings and Comcast and TWC are under-performers in the US. Publishing this information is supposed to encourage their competitors to play nice. It won’t.

      Google Fiber is in three cities. It’ll be a long time before they are a factor.

      I think other options are on the horizon. I can see local ISPs pairing with or competing with Aereo to lease antennas and DVRs.

      For people who rely on the internet for entertaining, it’s possible to time shift content to avoid bottlenecks. PlayLater is particularly attractive. For less than $50 ($65 for HD which I recommend), you can set up a streaming media DVR, record shows when demand is low for playback when things get busy.

      We cannot control the performance of OTT and OTA entertainment. All we can do is manage our risk and exposure.

      • Greg says:

        That’s an interesting chart. Comcast looks dangerously close to the threshold of about 1.5Mb where Netflix craps out. I wonder what the advertised down/up bandwidth is those customers.

    • Greg says:

      Thanks Bob. Sahil Patel’s premise “Net Neutrality’ Decision Won’t Affect Netflix and YouTube” is opposite of many others. What’s the whole point of fighting this out in court if in the end it really doesn’t make any difference?

      • Len Mullen says:

        This is a financial thing, mostly. It allows carriers to charge more for premium QoS. If Netflix wants a certain threshold of performance, Netflix may need to pay more for it. That, of course, is tantamount to revenue sharing. I don’t think it’s a bad idea except, in the end, the cost will be passed on to the consumer — me!

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