Another Love Letter to Marguerite Reardon…

C-Net’s Maggie Reardon wrote another PR-release, fluff piece for Comcast on the issue of the Comcast-Netflix peering/extortion issue.

In this supposed, “learned” explanatory piece, Ms. Reardon details all the thousand reasons Comcast embodies all that is goodness and right and how NetFlix is a horrible bandwidth hog, free-lunch expectant monster!  Yeah, right. 

Here’s the piece:  C-Net article: Comcast vs. NetFlix

It’s obvious who’s paying Maggie’s salary.  So I called her on it.


Yes Maggie, it’s obvious you are indeed a shill for the Telco’s.

A few years back, Ed Whitacre, who at the time was the CEO of AT&T, came up with the bright idea of creating a new revenue stream for his company.

He wanted to charge Google and others like them for connecting to his end users.  “They’re not gonna ride our pipes for free” was his battle cry.  There was a great deal of negative publicity and a huge outcry.  And so Whitacre’s plan went down in flames.

But it wasn’t forgotten.

It took them a while, but Comcast took Whitacre’s idea and ran with it.

And what they came up with was so very beautiful!

Rather than make out-front demands like Whitacre, Comcast chose the sneaky, underhanded method:  On their edge routers, they deliberately let port traffic to Netflix saturate, the goal being to degrade video quality.  Not all at once, but gradually over time.

And Joe Consumer tests his connection and finds it just great, but still Netflix is always buffering.  What gives?  D’oh!  Well maybe if you ran a line test to the edge router serving Netflix to that area of Comcast, you’d see a slightly different picture:  really high latency and substantial packet loss.  Which equals bad video quality and lots of buffering.  Like I said, this was a sneaky, underhanded method.  Too complex for some “journalists”  to understand.

“It’s a peering issue.  There’s an imbalance of traffic.  Not our fault,” said Comcast.

Horse pucky.  These issues were 100% completely manufactured by Comcast.  Deliberately, with malice and aforethought.

And it’s really no different than the mob guy coming into a restaurant and telling the owner, “You know this is a really bad area of town.  Without our ‘insurance’, all sorts of bad things could happen – might have the place all busted up, get your windows broken.  Hell, the place might catch fire.  How many customers you gonna have then?”

Comcast got away with their extortion.  Netflix paid up.  They had to.

That’s what happens when a company like Comcast has no meaningful competition – they’re willing to sacrifice their customer’s content viewing experience, all while knowing the customers are held captive; they have no other ISP to turn to.  Comcast can get away with anything they want.

In a market where there was meaningful competition that wouldn’t happen.  Where there’s competition, ISP’s (like in Europe, for example) are happy to carry content to their customers, knowing that if it isn’t delivered flawlessly, the customers will go elsewhere.  If they tried the kinda hocus-pocus Comcast did, they’d be dead in the water.

Not in the USA.

In the US, there’s no meaningful competition.  The Telco’s have all carefully carved out their territories so they don’t impinge on each other.  It’s a duopoly.  Carefully set prices all to maximize their profit.  Customers are just an after-thought; something to be “tolerated.”  Which makes it no surprise these companies all place near the bottom of the heap in customer satisfaction surveys.

We’re a Third-World nation when it comes to broadband.  It’s shameful!

So when Comcast and Verizon, et al, want to carve out new revenue streams, basically they can do what the hell they want and the consumers just have to put up with it.  The companies have bought and paid for the FCC.  When it really comes down to it, they ARE the FCC.

What we have now from Tom Wheeler is just an attempt to further those goals started by Ed Whitacre; to completely legitimize and even legalize the extortion.

And in doing so – creating the fast lanes like they want, they also get as a glorious byproduct, to finally kill off their Public Enemy Number 1:  Internet video – like Netflix.  Because streaming video is the single biggest threat to cable TV.  And let’s face it, when everything is said and done, first and foremost, Comcast is a cable TV company.  They have to protect their traditional business model.  Hallelujah brother!

The Pièce de résistance:  Put caps on the amount of data for customers per month – Like Comcast just announced – then with the pay-for-play fast lanes, force services like Netflix to raise their prices and then you can make the internet video streamers uncompetitive!  Voila!

And we’ll all be forced to continue to buy a 300 channel bundle (of which we actually watch 10 channels) forever and ever, ad nauseam.  Just like Comcast wants.  Cable TV’s the way to go!  Who wants a la carte viewing anyways?

With the acquisition of Time-Warner, Comcast’s duopoly will be complete.  They’ll have a lock on their territory that can’t be beat.  Content development and delivery; from cradle to grave.  What a deal!  They’ve got the whole enchilada.

All thanks to Comcast’s man in the FCC:  Tom Wheeler.  And of course, their PR flak – Maggie Reardon.

Bend over America!  Ain’t living with monopolies grand?