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Netflix CEO Reed Hastings Blasts Comcast Data Caps in Facebook Rant

In a recent Facebook post from Reed Hastings, the CEO of Netflix, we get a bit of intimate view into the life of the man who brings great movies and TV into our homes for a reasonable price. For instance, we learn that he has an Xbox, and is (not surprisingly) a big fan of streaming video. We also find out that he’s really angry at Comcast for how they count data towards his pre-set limit, accusing the Internet Service Provider of being anti-net neutrality.

At issue for Hastings is Comcast’s practice of counting streaming video from third parties differently than streaming video served from Comcast’s own Xfinity service.

From Hasting’s Facebook page:

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 wifi, the same internet connection, but totally different cap treatment.

In what way is this neutral?

While it’s easy to side with Hastings and gripe about ISPs — and it is so easy — it’s important to remember that he’s got a horse in this race as well. Netflix has come under fire lately as a bandwidth hog (a claim which seems to have little basis in reality), and has even had to introduce new streaming techniques in Canada to avoid users running over imposed data caps in that country. It’s in Hasting’s best interest to paint the ISPs as the bad guy, especially when those ISPs operate a competing service.

What’s more, he doesn’t mention the reason Comcast doesn’t count Xfinity programming towards a user’s data limit. According to Paid Content, it’s because Xfinity is run through Comcast’s own IP network and not the normal Internet tubes that we know and love. Of course, creating a tiered system and giving preference to certain services is still quite against the spirit of net neutrality, it’s a more complex reason than Hastings lets on.

Of course, I’ll take any excuse to call out ISPs for their weird business practices. And as long as cheap movies flow into my house through Netflix, I’ll probably take their side.

(Paid Content via Techmeme, image via jdlasica)

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