Report: Despite Deal With Netflix, Comcast Likely to Seek Payment from Cogent

Earlier this week we reported that Netflix would pay cable operator Comcast to get direct access to its customers, but that may not be the end of Comcast extracting payments from companies who need access to their broadband infrastructure.

According to an Ars Technica report, Comcast may also seek a payment from Cogent, the network operator that distributes Netflix video and other traffic. This is according to Cogent's CEO. Cogent's role in passing that Netflix traffic to Comcast will likely be reduced or potentially eliminated.

"They want everybody who they can possibly extract a payment from to pay them, even though the traffic that is reaching their customers has been paid for by their customers," Cogent Communications CEO Dave Schaeffer told Ars today.

Comcast and other ISPs have been demanding money from Cogent and similar companies which they have exchanged traffic with in the past for free. Another company similar to Cogent, Level 3, agreed to pay Comcast "under protest" after a dispute in 2010.

Even if zero Netflix traffic flowed between Cogent and Comcast, Schaeffer says that he doesn't expect Comcast to drop its demands for payment.

"For other customers, yes, obviously not for Netflix because there would be no Netflix traffic," Schaeffer said. "They would look to extract a payment from us for other customers who are sending traffic to the customers of Comcast."

That's likely because Cogent's customers include YouTube owner Google, Yahoo, Microsoft and its subsidiary Skype, and eBay, among others.

Plus, as the LA Times notes in one article, "Google Inc., Inc. and Yahoo Inc. already pay for such access to broadband providers like Comcast."

Ars has a lot more on this thorny issue in this article.

The real question for consumers is, how do these fees affect their pocket books; certainly the cost of those fees has to come from somewhere.

Source: Ars Technica

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  1. 0
    Sora-Chan says:

    Gotta love how cable companies have to pay channels to be able to broadcast them, but when it comes to internet, they're trying to force the otherway around.

    What Comcast should do, is protest by redirecting every single Comcast IP to a page saying

    "Due to Comcast telling us that we have to pay them money for you to access our site through their service for which you have paid for, Netflix is unable to stream to Comcast users. Please support us by writing to Comcast to get them to listen to that they are not the content creators of the internet, just a viewing window."

    Or something along those lines.

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  2. 0
    Thaylin says:

    The problem is that a general consumer ISP will always sent less traffic to a buisness ISP. This is not how the internet and peering is suposed to work. This is the same thing as Comcast charging CBS to air their shows and not the other way around.

  3. 0
    Neeneko says:


    I wonder what kind of traffic a Comcast customer (or customers) would have to generate in order to offset the imbalance and reduce the fee to zero.

    The general idea is that if Cogent sends 2GB of stuff to a Comcast customer, and  Comcast sends 1GB to a Cogent customer, that is an imbalance of 1GB and Cognet pays Comcast.

    So if a bunch of Comcast IP send hoards of traffic to some place in Cogent's network, then the imbalance would decrease.  Though given how much they restrict upstream speeds for residential customers I doubt anything but a concerted effort of millions of broadband customers would do much.

    Still, it would be a really evil solution.   Hrm… maybe there should be a popular new codec that as part of the decoding process sends the entire stream back to the source for validation rather then using a local checksum.  Symmetry!

  4. 0
    Neeneko says:

    In this case, not really.   Comcast is stating that they still want to push for fees for asymmetric peering, but with Netflix connecting directly that traffic will not be passing through Cognent or Level 3, so they will not be extracting fees for Netflix traffic.  They will still be attempting to get them to pay up for OTHER traffic above what they send to their network.

  5. 0
    Neeneko says:

    No.  These are contract disputes between backbones, it does not involve residential customers.

    Our main legal avenue would be voting or other political pressure.

  6. 0
    Infophile says:

    In the courts? Almost certainly not. It was a court decision that caused them to start doing this. You'd have to get the government to start regulating broadband providers, which is going to be an uphill battle given the current climate in the US, at least for the federal government. Local and state governments may be more or less amenable, depending on the jurisdiction.

  7. 0
    Daniel Lazzari Jr says:

    Funny how the telecoms said that if net neutrality ended they wouldn't abuse the privelege. That lasted a few WEEKS at best. In fact, those weeks were probably only because they needed time to implement their new tiered packet system.

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