Netflix whines

I saw an article with an interesting headline, Canadians Have Almost Third-World Access to the Internet. Now given Canada is now passing the U.S. in all sorts of categories, especially per capita income this seems a little improbable. But then I thought of all that empty space in Canada with few people to pay bills for a geographically large network and thought I’d take a look. See here, in much of the lightly populated Great Plains Internet service seems third world for the same reason, lots of land to span with fiber, not many people to pay for it.

But, no, this is not about bandwidth or availability of broadband or price. It is about throttling Netflix, not necessarily Netflix but any hog of bandwidth, otherwise known as Netflix. Netflix is very whiny about this because it’s severely hampering their business in Canada, which they desperately need expansion somewhere since several self-inflicted wounds have been hurting Netflix. And Netflix is actually right, there is little justification for the bandwidth limits as a solution to congestion. The ISPs are limiting bandwidth because they’re part of media companies that want to provide their own streaming business.

Now here in Omaha I can get Netflix or Cox OnDemand. In either case Cox is providing all the infrastructure and bandwidth and for a fixed price with currently unlimited bandwidth. I pay Cox, Cox pays the bills for connectivity, Netflix pays nothing. Yet Netflix thinks they should get a free ride on Cox. Why is that, exactly Netflix? There is no doubt that streaming movies is probably the biggest hog of bandwidth. So Cox gets stuck with the bill, which they have to pass on to me, and you get all the revenue. Sweet deal for you. And screw Cox, your competitor.

So in Canada it doesn’t work that way (and unfortunately we’re moving the same direction here too). All these streaming services think they have an entitlement of unlimited bandwidth someone else has to provide, and they are clogging up the Net for everyone. And meanwhile comapnies like Netflix and all those wonderful ads for smartphones, showing streaming HD movies over a far more limited bandwidth than broadband – it’s all magic, it’s all free. But it’s not free.

I’m amused sometimes at capacity. I’ve done nearly 200 posts here on WordPress and a bunch of comments and the size of my downloaded backups hardly tilts the meter, probably not more than a couple of seconds of a streaming movie. All the media files WordPress.com allows don’t even come close to a single HD streaming movie, yet I’ve used less than 1%. I could write for decades and upload photos for years and not generate as much content as a single streaming rerun of PBS shows Netflix has in their limited documentary selections. Hundreds of thousands of people can send emails, or update their Facebook pages, or send tweets for just the bandwidth of someone watching some other rerun. But it is the bandwidth guzzler that either slows me down or ultimately ends with some bandwidth quota (like my 4G has).

Netflix whines it’s not allowed to make profits from something it doesn’t provide. Users expect unlimited bandwidth for fixed monthly contracts because after all bandwidth is free.; some youngsters think they can get rid of cable because everything is going to be on iPhone, once it finally has LTE. These streaming services are unnecessary and are more abusive to others than all the Hummers guzzling gas and hogging the roadways; there are more efficient ways to deliver the content. But somehow it’s so American to eat-all-you-can and demand no accountability, or profit all you can from resources you got for free. Well, hate to tell you, life doesn’t work that way. And Netflix get used to it. Because of you there will eventually be bandwidth limits everywhere and lets see how you make money then. It’s the same mentality as use all the oil now and fill the atmosphere with green house gases, unsustainable consumption.

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About dmill96

old fat (but now getting trim and fit) guy, who used to create software in Silicon Valley (almost before it was called that), who used to go backpacking and bicycling and cross-country skiing and now geodashes, drives AWD in Wyoming, takes pictures, and writes long blog posts and does xizquvjyk.
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4 Responses to Netflix whines

  1. Trae says:

    Actually, Netflix pays for their internet just like you or me, where the hell do you come up with this “Netflix has no bandwidth bill” nonsense? Maybe you think everyone should have to pay a dozen people a dozen times for internet, but if you think that you probably also think you should pay a fee every time you cross a street too.

    PS: Be thankful companies like Netflix provide a reason for people to buy internet. If it wasn’t for content providers like Netflix and Facebook, nobody would bother to sign up for Cox or Time Warner’s service. It would be a “road to nowhere”, and you wouldn’t have any traffic to collect a toll.

    • dmill96 says:

      Actually Netflix pays only a small portion of the cost to deliver their packets end-to-end. A substantial portion of the costs Netflix never sees, but Cox does. Your original comment implied all Cox charges me for is local access, which is not actually true, but it is true that a significant portion of what they charge me for is the local access and Netflix pays none of this (again, check what net neutrality does given it’s still in effect). Cox gets no per-packet compensation from me so when I use bandwidth hogs like Netflix vs other services Cox gets screwed, except of course no business gets screwed, they simply pass the total cost on, so even if I choose to not use Netflix I end up paying for those who do.

      Now as to your point that without Netflix or Facebook the Net would be a road to nowhere. I regret your usage of the Net is so impoverished you could imagine these two rather trivial services are any reason to have Net access. Even you referenced Wikipedia in your other post, did you forget about them. And what about quality sources of information, say such as PubMed, vs pop stuff that could easily be available elsewhere. Perhaps Facebook is the only way you chose to communicate to the world, but I prefer my communications to be ad free and not just the grist for data mining to try to peddle crap to my circle. And you might check the explosive growth of the Net long before Zuckerberg pirated the idea for Facebook or Netflix streaming was even possible, somehow all those deluded folks found other good uses without this much later services.

  2. Trae says:

    PPS: If you don’t know how it works, the cost you me or any consumer pays for their internet covers only the traffic from your ISP to you. Netflix similarly has an “internet bill” where they pay for the cost of traffic from them to their ISP.

    If you knew ANYTHING about the internet, you should know that Cox doesn’t even provide Tier 1 service; if anyone had any whining to do about bandwidth usage, it would be one of them, not Cox. It’s the equivalent of some dial-up ISP in the 90s claiming “I am the internet”. “Shocked by the capacity” indeed, I’m shocked that someone who worked in Silicon Valley thinks that “Cox is the internet” by any stretch of the word; ridiculous.

    Anyway, Cox now has the right to cap or refuse to provide service to any content provider they want, if they don’t want to “carry” Netflix, they don’t have to. I hope they decide not to too, that way a company that doesn’t try to use Govt to extort operational expenses and instead appreciate the companies that make them relevant can enjoy an extremely profitable industry.

    PPPS: Bandwidth actually is almost “free”, it accounts for 2-5% of your internet bill.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Internet_backbone
    http://dslprime.com/dslprime/42-d/4148-costs-and-caps

  3. dmill96 says:

    Thanks for your comment, alternative views are always interesting.

    Actually I do just happen to know something about the Internet and quite possibly have known about it longer than you have been alive.

    #1. The cost for Cox service is NOT limited to what their local costs. Do you think they get to move packets for free through the rest of the Net and only pay their local costs? And in fact this was also true of the early dial-up providers, like Netcom – do you actually know what their economics are?

    #2. Until net neutrality is decisively repealed (on the ropes now) Cox cannot turn off Netflix or any other site on the Internet. And net neutrality is a good thing since my local provider, for their monopolistic business reasons has no right to control what I get, although I readily admit they have a right to charge me. Note: You might check why most Internet billing is done as at fixed rate (not out of the goodness of their heart, I assure you) and note that unmetered service is rapidly disappearing in EM services, so it’s only a matter a time before charging on guideway services.

    #3. Whether bandwidth is free (or even 3%) probably requires an interesting definition of bandwidth. Do all the routers count too? Or even the fiber? Perhaps you’re suggesting bandwidth is all EM and therefore the limited royalties paid for exclusive access probably is in that range. Who pays for all those nice expensive undersea optical cables? Or even the remaining microwave links in the remote parts of the country? What is a definition of bandwidth that treats the actual infrastructure costs as free?

    #4. The point in my post is that Cox wants to either ban or create restrictions or some sort of premium for me to see Netflix because it conflicts with their business. The best parallel is one trucking company had to actually pay for a highway but then let other competing trucking companies use that highway for free. I use Netflix and pay their fee and don’t buy Cox’s (content) service, yet it’s clear that content is their moneymaker and service is moneyloser so they subsidize service and I’m taking advantage of that (fair, given it’s what their contract says). But I see how they could feel they have no obligation to provide Netflix a free ride to compete with them. My beef is not the inherent who pays argument but that all this streaming nonsense is seriously clogging the Net and reducing access to other stuff. From an engineering POV streaming is far less efficient than how any cable company provides content, plus even though content is cached near edges the distance (and thus some of the cost) the bits have to travel is significantly greater, since bandwidth, is not actually free nor particularly cheap. So in remote parts of the country one farmer watching a movie can seriously degrade access for anyone else. Although, that said, as I’ve tried to do Pandora streaming via 4G (using a mobile WiFi to reach a dead spot in my house where the regular WiFi doesn’t go) I’ve discovered streaming on relatively low bandwidth (and Pandora requires way less bits than Netflix HD) is incredibly frustrating, probably exactly because Verizon is throttling it, so much that it’s unusual. I would expect with net neutrality reversed Cox will just imitate and simply make Netflix unusable.

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