Net Neutrality Died With the Comcast/Netflix Deal

The fix is in, and unless we do something quick - the internet as we know it will disappear for good. On Sunday, Comcast and Netflix announced that they had reached a deal that will give Netflix direct access to Comcast’s broadband networks. Until now, Netflix has only been able to sends its content to homeowners and internet users by using middlemen companies like Cogent.

Cogent, which in internet parlance is known as a “backbone provider,” routs Netflix’s content through to Comcast, which then sends that content to millions of homes across the country. But with its new megadeal, Netflix will get to avoid Cogent altogether and send its content straight to Comcast, and, from there, to TV fans like you and me.

In the short term, this means that Netflix users who get their internet from Comcast will get to stream movies and TV shows at faster speeds than they did before. Sounds pretty good, right?

Well, not really.

While Comcast customers will now able to watch House of Cards without having to worry about annoying lag time and loading screens, this deal sets a terrible precedent for the future of the internet. When the next startup Hulu or the next startup Netflix comes along and tries to break into the streaming market, it will have to fork over millions of dollars to Comcast if it wants the same access to Comcast’s broadband networks that Netflix will now have.

If you’re thinking of starting a net-based business in your garage, good luck. If you’re not an oligarch, you won’t have a chance. Sure, Netflix would prefer not to have to pay Comcast, but by doing so it pretty much guarantees itself a safe spot at the top of the TV streaming market.

The internet is now officially a “pay-to-play” industry and only the industrial oligarchs are welcome. Giant corporations make the rules and set the price, and small businesses now have to suck it up and deal with it and, therefore, most won’t ever be able to get off the ground. And thanks to the DC Circuit Court’s decision last month to strike down net neutrality and the FCC’s unwillingness to declare ISPs as “Common Carriers,” there’s pretty much nothing we can do about it.

To make matters worse, big internet service providers like Comcast are only getting bigger. In fact, if its massive $45 billion purchase of Time Warner Cable goes through - Comcast will become the number one cable provider for almost 40 percent of American homes.

For years, the internet has been the last refuge of the real free market. But with the death of net neutrality and the rise of borderline monopolies like Comcast and Verizon, it’s rapidly becoming the new kingdom of the robber barons.


SHFabian's picture
SHFabian 9 years 13 weeks ago

Yes, "pay for play" has been increasingly implemented for years. This has played a powerful role in pushing the US even further behind the advanced nations as millions have been pushed off the Internet already. With this generation so deeply divided, middle class against the rest of us, I don't see how it's possible to have a united push-back against this broad agenda.

delster's picture
delster 9 years 13 weeks ago

SHFabin I have to agree. Everytime our justice system caves into mega corporations we lose a bit more freedpm and encourage proliferation of injustice.

ckrob's picture
ckrob 9 years 13 weeks ago

The Pentagon announced today plans for a remarkable reduction in force due to budget considerations. Given the extent of current military privatization, we will soon have a corporate/oligarchic controlled army that will vastly outnumber that supported by our? government. To what use could such an arrangement be put?

ckrob's picture
ckrob 9 years 13 weeks ago

Comcast and TWC in no instance serve the same zip codes according to NPR. Just coincidence, not collusion?

jkh6148's picture
jkh6148 9 years 13 weeks ago

THE more I research labor history the more I am seeing a slippery slope return to the days of KING COAL -
when the coal corporations, owned local, state, and federal officials
who used local, state, and federal resources against the workers and unions to protect the coal companies.

with corporate media controlling the nightly news -

with corporate personhood giving corporations all the benefits of a human being but with little or no responsibilities -

with citizens united allowing corporations and the rich unlimited contributions to political parties -

with the loss of net neutrality controlling what we are able to connect to on the internet by how much we are able to pay -

with the war on unions and the middle class -

I fear I am seeing a slippery slope return to when corporations owned the local, state, and federal authorities, and the general population - the working people - returning to being nothing more than slaves to the corporations and their greed.

Suze O's picture
Suze O 9 years 13 weeks ago

Not only is this "pay to play" internet going to make it harder to start a small business using the web, but it will invariably lead to censorship of one kind or another. The ones with the most money will be the ones most insulated from criticism and safe from competition. Those who want new ideas, variety or change will have nowhere to go.

Why can't Americans fight harder against these interests that can only see the world as a source of profit for a wealthy few who weild enormous power? Why have so many of us swallowed the idea that anything a "government" does is bad, inept, and more expensive? I am tired of hearing that any effort toward programs for the public good or open to everyone regardless of financial status are examples of evil "socialism" and need to be privatized. I am angry that the right wing has spent years trying to convince us that socialism and Nazism are the same thing, just because Hitler used "socialist" in the name of his party. (NEVER trust the descriptions people or countries give themselves ; since they do so mostly to sound appealing or benign.) Read about the Night of the Long Knives, and the treatise of Mussolini on his ideal form of government, or Gen. Pinochet's privatization of almost everything in Chile; it will become very clear that those who MOST hate "socialism", aka public ownership, are those who believe in its opposite ideology - fascism.

richinfolsom 9 years 13 weeks ago

I agree with Thom! We just witnessed the morphing of the neutral Internet into cable TV - pay to play. Just recently Time Warner (do you remember when Time and Warner were two different companies?). Blacked out CBS until they paid the ransom?

By comparison, it would be analogous to Comcast taking over the airwaves holding the world ransom to pay - or be blacked out.

They bought our prisons
And enslaved a generation.
They bought our military
and took away our nationalism.
They bought our roadways
and the rich speed by in the fast lanes,
They have bought our radio stations
and homogenized culture
and turned political speech into greed and hate.
They bought our schools
and taken away belonging to a community.
They bought their competitors
and reduced our lives to working
in their corporate stores.

Aliceinwonderland's picture
Aliceinwonderland 9 years 13 weeks ago

Excellent posts, everyone! Suze, I couldn't have said it better. - AIW

William King's picture
William King 9 years 13 weeks ago

The following quote is for Sue...

"I'm not very hopeful that humanity can act en masse to address what are now truly global problems that require a new way of thinking. As Einstein said when nuclear weapons were created: "Everything's changed save the way we think."

I think we need to change the way we think to address these global problems. Will it happen? Maybe kicking and screaming. My friend, the writer Cormac McCarthy, told me once: "I'm a pessimist, but that's no reason to be gloomy." In a sense, that's my attitude."

From here

Thom is a master at trying to point humanity in the right direction, but it is like the old saying "You can lead a horse to water...".

Peoople fear change and the change they fear the most is the change that threatens them.

Back when Bush was elected for a second term the thought of a black democrat President was pretty much unthinkable. Then we had the mortgage meltdown (Thom has another fancy word for it) and everything changed. People lost their jobs by the millions (myself included) and trillions in working family homeowner equity vanished. For other the roofs over thier heads vanished. This juggernaut of financial destruction opened the eyes of many Americans who would vote for those with the big money, just to keep their status quo and small piece of the pie.

As to the topic, i can't argue that it seems awfully suspicious that Netflix (who I love to watch) didn't put up a fight. However, they have a good thing going and rather than wade through costly and lengthy court battles they just flashed the cash.

I think net nuetrality still may have its day in court... literally.

WilliamManners's picture
WilliamManners 9 years 13 weeks ago

What about companies like Dish Satelite Services? I have Internet and TV through Dish. If I was to start an Internet company I would be sending my content out through Dish Services and yes, the more data I send the more itr costs.

Mark Saulys's picture
Mark Saulys 9 years 13 weeks ago

It's really an outrage that large, already profitable profiteers could consider themselves owners of what is, essentially, a technology. A technology must be considered a common carrier as there can only be one such medium for everyone.

This, if I have this correct, will cause the end of the Thom Hartmanns and Amy Goodmans on the net as small, independent, essentially non for profit enterprizes will simply not be able to compete. The net will be a shopping channel, not public media but an advertizing service.

mrbrannon68's picture
mrbrannon68 9 years 13 weeks ago

The Justice Department and the FCC are entrusted to protect our commons and the licensing of users of our airwaves. However, Attorney General Eric Holder and FCC Chairman Thom Wheeler are choosing not to enforce the laws that exist to protect the people from corporations taking control of 90% of our media. Mr. Holder reports to the President and the FCC reports to Congress. So why are our elected government officials ignoring the laws of the land?

Mr. Holder has a strong background in law and as a judge. However, his failure to prosecute Wall Street crimes due to his philosophy that Wall Street is too large to prosecute. Mr. Holder has negotiated with banks on Wall Street resulting in small fines and immunity to prosecution. Mr. Holder is overstepping his Constitution duties, by serving as the prosecutor, judge and jury in his negotiations with Wall Street criminals. He is fact giving Wall Street a “get out of free card”. If we are not a nation of law, we are nothing. Mr. Holder stating that Wall Street is too big to be put into jail sends the message to Wall Street that they are above the law and can continue to do criminal acts, without fear of prosecution. This is a crazy irrational policy for the Justice Department to have against the biggest criminals in our nation.

Mr. Wheeler has a similar philosophy in his position in the FCC. Other than regulation, he talks of competition, competition, competition. His position comes as no surprise since his background as the chief lobbyist for the industry he now is charged with regulating. The following quote is from New York Times concerning his appointment: " I am skeptical that the former chief lobbyist of the wireless and cable industries will be capable of holding his former clients accountable for their ongoing shortcomings,” said Sascha Meinrath, head of the Open Technology Institute at the New America Foundation think tank”. Mr. Wheeler should never have been nominated to this office. His background should have disqualified from any consideration.

The answer as to why our elected representatives are ignoring their responsibility to enforce the laws of the land brings me to one conclusion – they have been corrupted by money and have become Corporatist. They are traitors to our nation and the Constitution they swore to protect and defend. We must mobilize and organize to reverse more than thirty years of damage allowed by our elected officials.

johnbh 8 years 49 weeks ago

Comcast and net neutralty? I just received an email from comcast that i have approached my limit of 300 gb per month for downloading. Once I pass the 300gb, i will be billed $10 for addiional 50 gb and then when that is reached another $10 , etc. I researched why. My donwloads have gone up considerably after subscribing to Net flix for $8 per month. My kids watched netflix as TV normal. Turns out that the 300 GB limit is a new policy - started on May 29. Having net flix and using 300 gb of downloads is easy to do. What this essentially does is I pay $8 for Netflix which is a air price. But then Comcast will bill me $10 once I reach the inevitable 300gb. So Comcast charge of $10 is even more than the amount netflix bills subscribers. Is this what net neutrality is all about becasue this is rediculous. Made more ridiculous by the fact that Comcast has snuck this in. Wait over the nex several months to se how many people drop netflix because of this. $8 is a fair and reasonable price by Netflix, but the real price is $18 and $28 and $38 - all to the profit of Comcast except $8. As consumers, this kind of piggy back gotcha economics is unsustainable.

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