For now, get a VPN and fix your Netflix, YouTube, Twitch, etc. I use this one: https://www.privateinternetaccess.com
Here are the notes we used while shooting this video:
Verizon (and many other ISPs) have forgotten that they are resellers, and they are breaking the internet by blaming Netflix, Hulu and Youtube for their problems.
They are lying, misleading and cheating in order manipulate the common man’s understanding of the situation; and it’s our job – Nay – Our Mission! -- to shine the light of reason and wisdom on the situation.
While you should always be skeptical of a company that both Makes Media and Sells Access to Other People’s Media, let’s look at the ISPs arguments:
- We are carrying a lot of traffic for Netflix to our customers. We should not be responsible for that; everything was fine before Netflix came along.
- We should not have to pay to upgrade our networks to carry this high-demand traffic.
- We should be paid for access to our customers/subscribers. We want Netflix (and others) to pay to connect directly to us, rather than Netflix (and others) to go through their own ISPs.
This is the core of the ISPs arguments. Let’s take a look at each one.
ISPs say that Netflix and services like that use a lot of their resources and creates a lot of traffic.
Often, the best lies start with a kernel of truth. Here, it is true that Netflix traffic may be up to 33% of the internet traffic, in general, on the entire internet. ISP’s subscribers want access to Netflix.. and what are ISPs like Verizon again? They are resellers that provide last-mile connectivity to the internet for their customers. They buy a big fat pipe to the internet, divvy it up among all their customers, and then sell their customers something like a 10, 20 or 50 megabit package. Often, they buy a fat pipe from multiple providers. Cogent, Level 3 and other providers like that provide central internet access to ISPs like Verizon, TW, etc. Fortunately for us, Verizon, Time Warner and others are not the internet. So what’s the problem then? Well, let’s look at the other part of the lie – that these video sevices are over-loading the networks?
Again, there may be some truth to that but let’s look at this objectively: ISPs also tend to offer their own video services. So.. you have enough connectivity in your house to get video services from Cable TV, Video on Demand, ISP-owned streaming services, etc. So you, in your house, have enough data connectivity to do that. What could possibly be the problem then? That’s right internet connectivity. They need to buy more and fatter pipes to the internet.
But is it reasonable for them to say that it’s too much? No, it’s not too much. Here’s why: A Full 1080p HD Netflix movie is AT MOST 2.8 gigabytes per hour. At 2.8 gigabytes per hour – this translates to less than 800 kilobytes per second. But how do ISPs sell their packages? They sell in megabits. Unless you’re on google fiber – then it’s 1 gigabit! Or 1000 megabit. So if we say that you’ve got the 50 megabit FiOS package from Verizon. How fast is that with regard to Netflix? Well, at 2.8 gigabytes per hour, that works out to just over 6 megabit. Round up to 7 megabit just to have a safe margin/padding/etc. Keep in mind these are worst-case-scenario streaming numbers for Netflix.
Effectively, your ISP is saying that it can’t manage a 6 megabit stream. What are you paying for again?
So, let’s take a look at argument #2 – that ISPs should not have to upgrade their networks to carry this high-demand traffic.
I have to go back to the definition of ISP. An ISP is an Internet Service Reseller. They don’t have enough connectivity to support the demands of their customers? Fine, buy more connectivity. Here’s the thing though. Netflix has offered to, FOR FREE, provide equipment and services that would cache video traffic at ISP headquarters. Uh oh! We’re back to that situation where ISPs can offer Video on Demand – Netflix Can Offer ISP customers their Video On Demand without that traffic ever hitting the internet! According to the CEO of Cogent, this was refused unless Netflix paid Verizon for access to their customers. If that isn’t torturous interference with an interstate commerce nexus, I don’t know what is! So. As a reseller, the ISP is saying they’re not responsible to upgrade their connections when their customers demand it. Are they from a parallel dimension?
Since a lot of these ISPs are Cable TV companies, it might just be they’ve been doing that crack cocaine known as the taxpayer dollar for so long they see this as reasonable. You see a lot of taxpayer dollars have gone into building up the cable TV infrastructure in this country. What’s better than a privately owned business that’s both too big to fail and partially subsidized by government funds? Epic!
However this is the 21st century and it just doesn’t work like this. You need to buy more of what you’re reselling. Also, the cable industry has reported record profits for 2013. So. Remind me again why we should care? If ISPs can’t provide the 50 meg package they’re selling then don’t sell it.
Let’s take a look at that last argument. ISPs should be paid for access to their customers.
This just reeks of the “old school” business model. Once you’ve got a customer base, you’re free to wield them like a blunt instrument and upset the apple cart for everyone else. No! No I say. And what can we do to fight this? Education – get the word out! Let these companies know we’re not stupid, we know their game and it won’t work. These companies know that, with services like Netflix, the pick-what-you-want a-la-carte TV programming is finally economically upon us and through inaction, stubbornness and blind greed they hope to slow or stop that. This is one of their strategies; to lie about the situation, manipulate Joe Public’s opinion and try to get companies to cave.
Once companies have to pay for access to ‘customers on ISPs’ it stops being the internet. Right there. It’d be like a public library where the only books they had were ones where the authors paid to be there. How good do you think that would be?
Say no! What we need to do is to Show Solidarity for Major Backbone Providers like Cogent and Netflix. Reach out to your ISP, let them know you know the game they’re playing. Shame on them. Shame!
Ars Technica articles we referenced in the video: