Since reaching a peering agreement with Comcast in February, Netflix streaming quality on its network has improved steadily, from an all-time low average of 1.51 Mbps in January to 2.77 Mbps last month.
Netflix is pretty upfront about its improvement with Comcast since signing the agreement. In a blog post today, Joris Evers of the Netflix communications team boasted the increase in average speeds on Comcast’s network in the past few months.
As Gigaom pointed out, the improvements only began after Netflix agreed to pay for direct access to Comcast’s network in February. Average Netflix streaming speeds on Comcast’s network increased from 1.68 Mbps in February, when it ranked 11th in average speeds among U.S. ISPs, to 2.50 Mbps in March, which ranked 5th.
Despite its success, this agreement is the exact dynamic that Netflix CEO Reed Hastings continues to denounce publicly in anticipation of the FCC’s upcoming net neutrality ruling. In a March blog post, Hastings urged the FCC to prevent ISPs from degrading their basic internet services in order to force content companies to pay a premium for better quality, which many have referred to as an “internet fast lane.”
“Strong net neutrality additionally prevents ISPs from charging a toll for interconnection to services like Netflix, YouTube, or Skype, or intermediaries such as Cogent, Akamai or Level 3, to deliver the services and data requested by ISP residential subscribers,” Hastings wrote. “Instead, they must provide sufficient access to their network without charge.”
Others allege that ISPs are already employing these tactics. Last week, communications company Level 3 accused five major ISPs in the U.S. of “deliberately harming” broadband speeds through peering practices in an effort to force content companies to pay for better-quality service.
FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler has since claimed that he will revise his proposed net neutrality rules to restrict ISPs from creating a premium internet fast lane service.