Netflix Partner Level 3 Challenges Comcast Video Delivery “Toll”

Just a week before Level 3 announced a multi-year deal to support Netflix’s booming streaming video business, Comcast introduced a new recurring fee to “transmit Internet online movies and other content to Comcast’s customers who request such content.”

Level 3, which helps to deliver Netflix’s streaming movies, said Comcast had effectively erected a tollbooth that “threatens the open Internet,” and indicated that it would seek government intervention. Comcast quickly denied that the clash had anything to do with network neutrality, instead calling it “a simple commercial dispute.”

Comcast has challenged these statements by saying that “the type of traffic distributed by Level 3 was irrelevant.” Comcast says they had a “peering agreement” with Level 3 to share traffic fairly evenly, but Level 3 is sharply increasing their usage and don’t want to pay for it. Comcast says that “Level 3 is trying to change the rules of the game.”

Comcast is in the middle of closing up an acquisition of NBC, which is in the final stages of review by the F.C.C. and the Justice Department. Some say that this scuffle with Level 3 and netflix america is a red flag and shows that Comcast will discriminate against a competitor’s content if it can. Comcast insists this has nothing to do with net neutrality, calling it “a simple commercial dispute.”

What do you think?

via NY Times, The Washington Post