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Netflix Cranks Up the Net Neutrality Heat

Jeff Baumgartner
LR Cable News Analysis
Jeff Baumgartner

Here's what's pushing cable's buttons today.

  • Netflix Inc. (Nasdaq: NFLX) complained to Federal Communications Commission (FCC) staffers this week that broadband caps are unfair to over-the-top video services. Netflix coupled its verbal argument with a slideshow titled "A Level Playing Field for Video" that points the finger at three service provider applications that are exempt from broadband consumption caps: Comcast Corp. (Nasdaq: CMCSA, CMCSK)'s Xfinity TV on Xbox 360, AT&T Inc. (NYSE: T)'s U-verse TV on Xbox 360, and Time Warner Cable Inc. (NYSE: TWC)'s iPad application. It goes on to outline a range of services that are subject to caps, including MLB.tv, Hulu Plus, Sony Corp. (NYSE: SNE)'s Crackle and, of course, Netflix.

    Comcast has already argued that its app for the game console should be exempt because it's delivered over the MSO's private IP network and that it views the Xbox 360 as just another set-top box. The FCC's current rules do exempt managed video and voice services delivered over IP. (See Netflix CEO Keeps Whining About Comcast and Comcast's Xbox App Raises Net Neutrality Concerns.)

  • Arris Group Inc. (Nasdaq: ARRS) will show off a Docsis 3.0 voice gateway with on-board Wi-Fi and Multimedia over Coax Alliance (MoCA) that can bond 16 downstream channels -- twice the downstream of current-generation D3 modems -- at The Cable Show in Boston. When fully loaded, the device, called the Touchstone Telephony Gateway TG1672 [Ed note: Sexy!], can provide downstream bursts of about 640 Mbit/s. Also on tap, the Media Services Platform MSP2800, a high-density edge QAM with Converged Cable Access Platform (CCAP) "migration ability" that's come out of its recent acquisition of BigBand Networks Inc. (See Arris/BigBand Could Resurrect Modular CCAP .)

  • Motorola Mobility LLC shipped 19,821 downstream cable modem termination system (CMTS) channels in the first quarter along with 26,852 upstream ports, improving from the 12,013 downstreams and 11,252 upstreams it shipped in the year-ago quarter. Despite the gain, Moto will likely remain a distant third in CMTSs behind Cisco Systems Inc. (Nasdaq: CSCO) and Arris. (See Cisco, Harmonic Rule Cable Access in Q3 .)

  • Mediacom Communications Corp. lost 5,000 video subscribers in the first quarter, narrowing the loss of 9,000 in the year-ago quarter, giving it a total of 591,000. The now privately held MSO also added 15,000 high-speed Internet customers and 6,000 phone subs, compared to 7,000 and 1,000, respectively, a year earlier.

    — Jeff Baumgartner, Site Editor, Light Reading Cable

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    User Rank: Blogger
    12/5/2012 | 5:33:30 PM
    re: Netflix Cranks Up the Net Neutrality Heat

    The problem with the debate around Comcast's "managed IP" video network is that people are making arguments without understanding a lot of the context. And unfortunately, the cable industry seems perfectly happy to sit back and let people debate in ignorance. The situation isn't black and white, but the nuances are difficult to explain - more so when Comcast won't clarify exactly how it's doing what it's doing. 

    Should Comcast be able to deliver video to the Xbox without having it count toward caps? Probably. It's Comcast's pipe, and guess what, all cable TV is going to be delivered over IP eventually. But then how much bandwidth should Comcast be allowed to use for its managed service versus how much should it have to dedicate to Internet service? And what about that prioritizing in the last mile? If the managed service is competing for bandwidth over the same channels as Internet traffic - instead of over a dedicated QAM channel - should it be allowed to get priority delivery? At the very least, we should know if there are any boundaries here.

    But we don't know. And we probably won't know any time soon. 

    Jeff Baumgartner
    Jeff Baumgartner,
    User Rank: Light Beer
    12/5/2012 | 5:33:29 PM
    re: Netflix Cranks Up the Net Neutrality Heat
    Some more transparency of what's going on would be helpful, though I doubt that it would douse the network neutrality flames. A lot of details about the earlier P2P situation didn't come to light until after the FCC probed it. JB
    User Rank: Light Beer
    12/5/2012 | 5:33:24 PM
    re: Netflix Cranks Up the Net Neutrality Heat

    Have you all noticed that Google regularly violates net neutrality on its Youtube site?  Some videos will take for ever to load and continously interrupted by slow data while others that have ads have plenty bandwidth.  Doesn't Net Neutrality have to go with all content?

    User Rank: Light Beer
    12/5/2012 | 5:33:19 PM
    re: Netflix Cranks Up the Net Neutrality Heat

    Google is not a carrier in most instances. 



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