Netflix Speeds Are Up 65 Percent, If Comcast is Your ISP

Source: Thinkstock

Source: Thinkstock

Netflix Inc. (NASDAQ:NFLX) users may already be seeing the benefits behind a controversial, paid agreement between Netflix and Comcast Corp. (NASDAQ:CMCSA); as result of the deal, Netflix agreed to pay Comcast for a more direct route through its network, allowing for faster speeds, according to reports from Time and CNN Money on Tuesday.

Netflix has released its first new data since the agreement, which indicate that Comcast’s subscribers are seeing faster connection speeds on Netflix; the agreement has supposedly boosted connection speeds for Comcast users by 65 percent, according to Time.

“This month’s rankings are a great illustration of how performance can improve when ISPs work to connect directly to Netflix,” said Comcast spokesperson Joris Evers in a company blog post, per Time. “In the U.S., the average speed on the Comcast network for Netflix streams is up 65 percent from 1.5Mbps in January to 2.5Mbps in March.”

Prior to the recent deal between Comcast and Netflix, which was reached in February, Netflix was delivering its traffic to Comcast through third parties such as Cogent Communications. Now, the streaming internet video provider pays Comcast an undisclosed sum for the benefit of feeding Comcast its videos directly.

Comcast subscribers are seeing the best Netflix service in sixteen months, according to Time and the ISP has jumped six spots in Netflix’s ranking of ISP performance for the month of March; previously subscribers were in the midst of a “precipitous decline” in speeds that began last fall, according to Time.

The February agreement between the two companies became a catalyst for intensifying discussions regarding net neutrality, or the principle that ISPs should keep all online content equally accessible. The net neutrality principle was once part of the now-defunct U.S. Open Internet rules, which were struck down by a federal Judge in January. According to Time, the rule stated that ISPs were prohibited from playing favorites with certain online service providers at the expense of their rivals.

Reed Hastings, Netflix’s CEO, paid the fee to Comcast reluctantly, and complained that Netflix shouldn’t have to pay “a toll for interconnection to services like Netflix, YouTube, Skype, or intermediaries such as Cogent, Akamai, or Level 3, to deliver services and data requested by ISP residential subscribers.” Hastings added that ISPs must “provide sufficient access to their network without charge,” according to Time.

Verizon, AT&T, and other Comcast rivals are said to have been engaged in talks asking for similar fees from Netflix in order to improve services for their own customers, though previously Hastings had made it clear that it wouldn’t do the same for other ISPs.

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