The war of words over net neutrality isn't just being fought at the FCC, where comments due last week overwhelmed the agency's electronic filing system. Level 3 Communications and Verizon execs have posted dueling blogs, in which each shows diagrams attempting to prove that the congestion issues surrounding Netflix traffic lie in the other's network. (See Net Neutrality Fight Peaks at FCC Deadline.)
In Verizon Communications Inc. (NYSE: VZ)'s Public Policy blog , David Young, VP, Verizon Federal Regulatory Affairs, uses green pipes (Verizon's) and red pipes (Netflix transit providers) to illustrate that the real congestion issue lies with Netflix Inc. (Nasdaq: NFLX) because the streaming video service did not make sure there was adequate capacity for its traffic to enter Verizon's network. (See Verizon Threatens to Sue Netflix and Netflix's Problem Is Its Transit Network – Report.)
Mark Taylor, VP of content and media at Level 3 Communications Inc. (NYSE: LVLT), responds with what he calls Verizon's Accidental Mea Culpa , insisting that Young's charts actually show that the congestion issues happen at the interconnection point between the two networks and that by simply adding a few inexpensive 10-gig ports, Verizon could allow Netflix traffic to flow much more freely. (See Net Neutrality: Level 3 Sees Peering Progress Soon.)
What the dueling blogs actually show, at least to me, is that these two sides agree on the congestion problem -- the interconnection point between the Netflix transit networks and Verizon's access networks -- but disagree on the solution. Netflix and its transit network providers, Level 3 and Cogent Communications Holdings Inc. (Nasdaq: CCOI), think Verizon should provide the additional access as part of a peering agreement. Verizon thinks Netflix should pay more because of the volume of traffic its transit network providers are handing off. (See CDNs & Net Neutrality: It's Complicated.)
Taylor points out that Level 3 doesn't have these congestion problems in Europe, where it connects with local carriers, and that Verizon doesn't have these congestion issues with services other than Netflix. That, he says, is proof that Verizon is deliberately messing with Netflix streaming video.
Verizon's Young points to the fact Netflix traffic represents one-third of all bandwidth consumption, but the company has made no arrangements to make sure this "massive" amount of traffic was delivered "through connections that can handle it" -- i.e., direct connections for which Netflix would pay. Verizon is now working aggressively to try to arrange such connections with Netflix, on behalf of its customers, he says.
Two blogs, two opinions, no answers. The FCC net neutrality ruling is not expected to address peering and interconnection - although the agency says it will do so separately. I think this war of words is likely to continue -- and consumers will not be any better off as a result. (See Net Neutrality Redux? FCC Probes Peering Problems.)
— Carol Wilson, Editor-at-Large, Light Reading