From a network architecture standpoint, fast lanes aren’t that useful if you’re managing your network effectively. From a marketing perspective, however, they might be quite useful as a way to sell “premium” access to content providers.
This creates two fundamental problems. Allowing fast lanes gives ISPs a perverse incentive to boost revenues by allowing their networks to congest. It also gives them outsize power to pick winners and losers on the Internet. Those who can’t pay for fast lanes will suffer, entrenching incumbents while undermining the innovative power of the Internet. While the largest ISPs have said they’re not interested in creating fast lanes, one need only look at how they have sought to monetize their network interconnection points to get a glimpse of the future.
It is at these points — where our traffic enters an ISPs network — where Netflix and others have been forced to pay Comcast, Verizon, AT&T and Time Warner access fees to reach our mutual customers. Without those payments, ISPs allowed these connection points to congest, resulting in a poor video streaming experience for Netflix users on those networks. While Netflix was able to meet the demand for payments, we continue to believe this practice stands in contrast to an open Internet and all its promise.
Right now, there are no paid fast lanes on the Internet. That’s a good thing. A large part of the debate about net neutrality is focused on ensuring it stays that way. If ISPs are allowed to sell fast lanes, competition for various Internet sites and services will become less about the value of what’s offered and more about who can pay the most to deliver it faster. It would be the very opposite environment than the one the Internet created.
You might have noticed a spinning logo banner on the JW Player Labs site today. We are participating in the 2014 Internet Slowdown. The banner will only be shown today, and only once to each site visitor.
We aren’t actually slowing down our site or software. The Slowdown is a coordinated symbolic act to raise awareness of the Net Neutrality debate. On the Internet, all data on the network is treated equallyit is a neutral, level playing field. The pages that are served from your personal blog are given no more or less priority than pages from other sites on the Web, even giants like Google or Facebook. The same is true for Skype calls, Netflix movies, and any other application that uses the Internet to transmit data packets.
Some of the largest Internet service providers (ISPs) are lobbying the U.S. government for permission to break this tradition and divide the Internet into slow and fast traffic lanes. The carriers would charge content providers extra for fast lane prioritization of their data.
This of course means that everyone not paying the fast lane toll gets stuck in the slow lane. If Net Neutrality is allowed to end, we could have an Internet where, say, Google pays ISPs to have their search results or maps delivered to users faster than Bing, or Netflix pays to have faster video delivery than Amazon.
The end of Net Neutrality would be very harmful to small- and medium-sized video publishers who don’t have millions of dollars to pay to ISPs for fast lane access. It would put them at a severe competitive disadvantage against large competitors. Such drastic imbalance in markets is never good for consumers.0