Netflix Chief Blasts Comcast on Data Caps and Net Neutrality Shenanigans

Paul Lilly

At this point in the game, Netflix Chief Executive Officer Reed Hastings puts little effort into hiding his disdain for Comcast, the largest cable operator and Internet service provider in the U.S. He's complained about Comcast before and the favoritism the ISP gives its own Xfinity Streampix service over Netflix, and he decided to dole out a mini rant over the weekend using Facebook as his soapbox.

Hastings' issue with Comcast is that, in his opinion, the ISP is "no longer following net neutrality principles." He explains it like this.

Comcast no longer following net neutrality principles.

Comcast should apply caps equally, or not at all.

I spent the weekend enjoying four good Internet video apps on my Xbox: Netflix, HBO Go, Xfinity, and Hulu.

When I watch video on my Xbox from three of these four apps, it counts against my Comcast Internet cap. When I watch through Comcast’s Xfinity app, however, it does not count against my Comcast Internet cap.

For example, if I watch last night’s SNL episode on my Xbox through the Hulu app, it eats up about one gigabyte of my cap, but if I watch that same episode through the Xfinity Xbox app, it doesn’t use up my cap at all.

The same device, the same IP address, the same Wi-Fi, the same Internet connection, but totally different cap treatment.

In what way is this neutral?

Comcast only recently launched its competing Xfinity app for the Xbox 360 and Hastings isn't the only one to question the ISP's data cap exception. in a related FAQ , Comcast likens the streaming service to that of a traditional cable television service, saying the combination of an Xbox 360 and the Xfinity app essentially act as an additional cable box, therefore its data cap doesn't apply. It's a weak excuse, but it is what it is.

The issue here, at least for Comcast, is that Netflix accounts for most of the traffic that flows over its content delivery network, Level 3. At one point, Comcast wanted Level 3 to pay a fee for sending all this traffic over Comcast's network, a move that prompted Level 3 to accuse Comcast of wanting to set up a "toll booth."

When asked about the pressure cable companies are under to cope with Netflix's growing traffic, Hastings earlier this year scoffed at the notion.

"That 92 percent Comcast operating margin is really under a lot of pressure... There is no financial pressure on ISPs," Hastings said, according to CNet . "They are making a fortune."

Do you think Hastings has a legitimate beef with Comcast, or is this what competition is all about?

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