Online streaming giants Netflix have come under fire for their alleged stance on high definition (HD) content, only delivering the higher-quality content (including movies formatted in 3D and ‘Super HD’) to Internet Service Providers (ISPs) that are part of their content delivery network, ‘Open Connect’, and refusing HD access for all that refuse to be a part of the system based on private networks.
While being part of the Open Connect ‘interconnection’ does not cost companies aside from initial connectivity fees, the system is designed to stop Netflix users taking up bandwidth through using a direct user-to-server connection, with the more managed Open Connect method claimed to offer a go-between from service providers that in turn saves everyone money.
However, Time Warner Cable disagree with the claims, stating that Netflix withholding premium content in this way is a way of blackmailing telecommunications companies such as themselves to taking up interconnections that they doesn’t want, with TWC stating: “While they call it ‘Open Connect,’ Netflix is actually closing off access to some of its content while seeking unprecedented preferential treatment from ISPs. We believe it is wrong for Netflix to withhold any content formats from our subscribers and the subscribers of many other ISPs. Time Warner Cable’s network is more than capable of delivering this content to Netflix subscribers today.”
Netflix’s ‘peering’ offering is free for ISPs that consume over 2GB/sec of Netflix traffic for 95% of the time, and is applicable to 17 high-profile ‘international internet nodes’. Netflix have claimed that a decent HD stream requires around 5MB/sec, something which they believe their Open Connect system can help achieve for many users, as they recently explained: “Open Connect provides Netflix data at no cost to the location the ISP desires and doesn’t seek preferential treatment.”
Sonic.net’s CEO Dane Jasper summarized the situation with a suggestion that companies such as TWC are over-reacting: “It’s an easy process, just like Akamai or any other CDN edge cache. Depending upon scale of the service provider, it’s one or more servers, deployed at one or more locations in the service provider network.”
It is an unusual issue, but though Netflix seem to be pushing their system out for beneficial purposes to all concerned, holding back on high-quality content to those that don’t take it up will definitely be seen as unfair for subscribers based purely on their choice of ISP…