Netflix has given in to AT&T and signed a “peering” agreement to end the Internet provider’s data throttling, while Sprint rolls out a new data plan that stomps all over net neutrality principles.
The peering agreement, in which Netflix pays AT&T extra for direct access to its network, is the latest in a string of such contracts the streaming service has been signing with the big telecommunications providers in order to stop user complaints of buffering and low-quality streams. Comcast and Verizon already have similar agreements with Netflix, which has been very vocal about protesting against the Internet providers’ strong-arm tactics of purposely slowing network speeds for Netflix users. Unfortunately, it seems that those same tactics have paid dividends. It’s certainly not a good sign for net neutrality when one of the biggest Web-based service providers caves to corporate bullying.
Peering, or the act of physically connecting two networks, is not a new concept, but paying for it is. Traditionally, peering agreements between providers have existed to share network demands between several networks, but as was stated above, money didn’t change hands. According to Netflix’s CEO, “without strong net neutrality, big ISPs can demand potentially escalating fees for the interconnection required to deliver high quality service,” which is exactly what is happening in front of our eyes.
In another blow to net neutrality, Sprint has announced a new data plan that would provide unlimited access to either Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, or Pinterest – your choice – for $12/mo on top of whatever you already pay for data. Another $10 would provide unrestricted access to all four, and if you want unlimited music streaming (from only one provider), tack on another $5.
Clearly, this “playing favorites” move from Sprint flies in the face of net neutrality, which supports an unrestricted Internet for all. Let’s hope that the FCC and Harry Reid can keep the Internet open and neutral.
Image from Netflix