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Netflix’s Faux Neutrality


If you happen to own a computer, television or other streaming device, you’ve probably heard that Netflix recently reached an agreement with Comcast to facilitate the delivery of its videos to Comcast customers.

You’ve probably also heard that the chairman of the Federal Communications Commission has circulated new “net neutrality” rules to govern how traffic moves across the so-called “last mile” connection between an Internet Service Provider (ISP) and your home.

What do these have to do with each other? The short answer is “nothing,” but you wouldn’t know that from listening to Netflix’s CEO.

In short, the Netflix-Comcast agreement deals with something known as interconnection — how big content providers transmit their huge files over the Internet’s backbone in order to get to Comcast and other ISPs’ last-mile facilities in the first place. Net neutrality deals with how traffic is handled once it arrives at the last mile, and whether it makes sense for certain traffic to receive priority treatment once it gets there.

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