In 2014, a news story erupted over a dispute between Netflix and Comcast over connectivity and distribution.

Comcast was accused of deliberately blocking or restricting Netflix traffic.

For example, 100,000 people signed an online petition to the FCC:

"Don't let Comcast block Netflix or other online innovators for their own profit! Support the strongest Net Neutrality protections possible -- and keep Obama's promise."

Washington Post's headline (for example) linked this to the issue net neutrality:

This hilarious graph of Netflix speeds shows the importance of net neutrality

enter image description here

However, there have been conflicting reports, that indicate that it was just a specific, infrastructure problem (see the "What's really happening with Netflix traffic?" section).

In other words, Netflix is attaching a fire hose to the Comcast network, which is only equipped to handle connections the size of garden hoses. The gushing fire hose of content can't possibly be funneled into the few garden hose ports that are available. So packets are dropped and the service is degraded.

Netflix could fix this problem in one of two ways. It could pay for a fire hose connection instead of taking the garden hose connection that it can get through a standard peering relationship with Comcast. The large connection would accommodate the Netflix traffic. The other option is to distribute its traffic more evenly among other CDNs that are delivering traffic to Comcast. In this case, the video traffic could get onto the Comcast network via the many garden hoses already connected to the Comcast network.

So, did Comcast do something to throttle Netflix's bandwidth?

  • 6
    I'm still not entirely sure what fact is in dispute. Does anyone explicitly say Comcast took deliberate action to slow Netflix traffic, as opposed to simply refusing to upgrade their connection until paid? The dispute doesn't seem to be about facts but about fairness.
    – Oddthinking
    Feb 18, 2015 at 7:41
  • @Oddthinking This article (arstechnica.com/information-technology/2014/02/…) and the links therein explicitly indicate the possibility of intentional throttling. So I'd say the claim is at least presented in published articles, and more widely believed as a meme.
    – Dave
    Feb 18, 2015 at 14:37
  • 1
    So what do you want as an answer? "Ask Maggie" says she does not know what went on behind closed doors. You expect someone who does know will post here? But even that would be disallowed, without published documentation, I think.
    – GEdgar
    Feb 18, 2015 at 14:57
  • @Dave: the article avoids backing the claim, and said there is insufficient evidence to support it. Is anyone willing to actually make the claim.
    – Oddthinking
    Feb 18, 2015 at 15:53
  • 1
    @GarethMcCaughan Verizon appealed the FCC's net neutrality rules in September 2013. Jul 14, 2016 at 20:39


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