[discuss] African take on Net Neutrality

Barry Shein bzs at world.std.com
Thu May 15 17:30:37 UTC 2014

Bandwidth caps are only a NN issue if they are discriminatory.

For example if Comcast didn't count transmission of their own
programming (e.g., they own NBC Universal) against bandwidth caps.

But that's hypothetical.

What started this recent kerfuffle was Comcast refusing to provide
more ports to Level 3, Netflix uses Level 3 (it's an ISP brand, Level
3 Corporation.) Ports are bandwidth, essentially.

Netflix sells content, Comcast sells content and "last mile" (end user
/ home) access. And Comcast has a very large market share of last mile
access in the US.

Netflix and Comcast ultimately (ca 23 Feb 2014) came to an agreement
whereby Netflix paid Comcast for the extra ports.

Some argued this is nothing but a paid peering arrangement. The extra
ports incurred costs for Comcast so they should be paid.

Others argued that Comcast charges their last-mile customers for
connections and, implicitly, bandwidth and those customers pay them so
they can get to services like Netflix.

That is, Comcast is double-dipping, charging their customer for the
bandwidth and again charging Netflix for that bandwidth. Comcast can
do this, the argument continues, because of their dominance in the
last-mile market. The bandwidth argument was just an excuse made
possible by market inefficiencies.

This has broader implications for the entire internet, particularly in
terms of regulatory frameworks.

It comes down to the age-old question of when does a price reflect
costs (plus some reasonable profit), and when does it reflect whatever
the market will bear and the leverage of the seller. Particularly in a
market with severe distortions.

        -Barry Shein

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