The news has been a-twitter with negotiations between Netflix and Internet access giant Comcast in what many are calling a harbinger of things to come for heavy network users without net neutrality laws in place. The deal closed for an undisclosed amount of money, but gives Netflix direct access to Comcast’s network to stream to customers faster. Some say the deal may have included backroom agreements to throttle competition, but this seems unlikely.
Comcast had announced that they would be slowing down streaming in general to some subscribers as it was causing network delays. The deal likely focused on circumventing those slow-downs in favor of Netflix.
This is a good thing for Netflix right now, as Comcast just agreed to buy Time Warner Cable, making the company the ISP for about 42 million households in the United States.
Publicly, the deal has been all about preserving the Internet’s core competency of access here in the U.S. The companies have said, both on and off the record, that they now there are slow-downs with many broadband services and that working together, they hope to allay some of them. So far, only broad outlines of the actual deal have been disclosed, but they seem favorable to the Internet at large.
It also gives an idea of how a balance of costs may be found to allow the upgrade of an outdated American broadband system. Netflix joins a throng of large Internet companies that are paying up in order to get better access. This could pave the way towards infrastructure improvements that are long overdue.