Forty percent of the American population will be watching Netflix movies without interruptions. However, for Netflix subscribers on Principia campus, the buffering just got worse.
Recently, cable and broadband provider Comcast joined forces with Netflix in order to provide improved quality viewing when streaming media, leaving other providers in the lurch. In the Elsah area, though, AT&T provides the majority of broadband service. Upon arriving at the Principia campus, many students are encouraged to join AT&T to receive better cellphone coverage. However, this merger will leave the students of Principia and the residents of Elsah with slower service when streaming content from Netflix. “I’m not a subscriber to Comcast and I have had slower streaming [already],” junior Reed Brumm said. “It’s actually very annoying.”
Netflix is a giant television and movie streaming service, providing the latest films and TV series at the price of $7 a month to subscribers. According to the Los Angeles Times, the quality of streaming slowed to 27 percent for Comcast clientele between the months of October to January. The reason for the poor quality is under dispute, but Comcast took the initiative to work with Netflix and improve the situation. In an interview with the New York Times, Comcast chief executive Brian Roberts said, “Working collaboratively over many months, the companies have established a more direct connection between Netflix and Comcast, similar to other networks, that’s already delivering an even better user experience to consumers, while also allowing for future growth in Netflix traffic.”
Netflix will pay to use Comcast’s infrastructure by connecting through the broadband and cable tycoon. This is similar to Google’s agreement with YouTube. Netflix has made similar arrangements around the globe in order to provide better service for its global customers. In most instances, Netflix has used “Open Connect,” a system which uses a third party to deliver media content. It has used this system with British Telecom, Bell Canada and Cablevision.
However, Comcast was not prepared to be a third party. Before the deal was made, Netflix accessed Comcast providers through content distribution network (CDN) Cogent Communications. As reported by Forbes magazine, Netflix will pay an undisclosed amount to Comcast for better streaming service, while continuing to use CDNs for other Netflix subscribers. The concern is that all Netflix viewers will be forced to subsidize the costs of the Comcast merger, and still suffer from slow service.
Netflix controls 30 percent of Internet traffic during peak hours. Comcast’s agreement with the Internet service, and its purchase of Time-Warner Cable, makes Comcast the provider for 30 million cable and broadband subscribers.
The Comcast-Netflix agreement has issued warning bells for the Consumer’s Union, who are calling for the federal government to monitor the deal in order to prevent a monopoly of American entertainment. Consumer Union attorney Delara Derkhshami wrote to the Los Angeles Times, saying that “We are concerned that many Comcast customers who experienced problems with Netflix sought faster and more expensive services from Comcast to alleviate the problems.”
“Other network providers, like Verizon and AT&T, slow down, dropping megabytes that can be used, because Comcast has control,” freshman Emily Bumba said. “Therefore, people will need to move towards Comcast in order to get better connections.”
This merger threatens other internet providers, but most importantly threatens Netflix. Freshman Haley Schabes said, “If it’s a choice between choosing to switch over to Comcast [to keep Netflix], I would turn to cheaper choices.”