By KYW tech editor Ian Bush
PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – If you have Netflix, you may have noticed slower streaming speeds lately. That’s because the company has been fighting Internet Service Providers’ demands that it pay for the massive bandwidth it takes to deliver movies and TV.
But, in a milestone deal announced on Sunday, the dispute with the country’s biggest cable company has come to an end.
Like an E-ZPass Express ramp only it can use, Netflix will connect directly to Comcast’s broadband network, rather than counting on third-party content delivery that’s left the home of ‘House of Cards’ stuck in the slow lane.
By bypassing the middleman and linking to the Xfinity provider’s pipelines closest to your location, Netflix can improve picture quality. That’s something that’s suffered recently as the major ISPs, like Verizon, complain that Netflix should be paying tolls for all the traffic it creates — sometimes nearly a third of what’s online.
Comcast says its customers already are seeing faster streams.
For the privilege with the Philadelphia-based cable giant, the top entertainment streaming service will have to pay. That’s something Netflix had balked at, though analysts say Comcast may have offered a good deal as federal regulators prepare to pore over its bid for Time Warner. While Comcast says Netflix content gets no preferential treatment under the multi-year deal, advocates for net neutrality call it a slippery slope — fearing a web where only the companies with deep pockets can survive, stifling competition and preventing startups from blossoming.