NETFLIX AND COMCAST have struck a deal to resolve net neutrality uncertainty between the two firms.
Netflix, the biggest streaming video subscription service in the US, has agreed a multi-year deal with Comcast, the country's largest internet service provider (ISP), which will see the servers of the two companies linked directly, eliminating potentially disruptive midpoint servers in an attempt to increase streaming quality. The news comes within a week of Comcast's $27bn deal to buy Time Warner Cable to create a company that analysts estimate will control a third of the US high-speed internet market.
The deal does not, however, offer preferential service for Netflix traffic, merely a more direct path, meaning that third parties might still delay Netflix traffic. Those in favour of the Open Internet initiative of the Obama administration might see this as mere semantics, while others might view such interconnect agreements as reasonable approaches to resolving the issue of the escalating amount of data traffic originated by internet streaming services.
In a statement, Comcast said that it will not disclose the terms of the deal, but claimed that it will provide "an even better user experience to consumers, while also allowing for future growth in Netflix traffic".
Comcast said that the deal was struck after "working collaboratively over many months", suggesting that the negotiations began before the landmark defeat of the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) against Comcast rival Verizon over whether net neutrality rules are enforceable by the commission.
The FCC has already said that it does not plan to appeal that appellate court ruling and will instead work on a case by case basis within its existing framework to preserve the open internet. µ