Thanks for confirming your biases, anonymous coward. You believe that anyone who actually wants what they pay for is "demanding a free lunch" because you believe that it is the duty of every "consumer" to simply pay whatever they're told; in your world consumers exist to serve the cartels and are otherwise without value or rights.
Netflix is allowed to create hugely asymmetrical traffic into an "access network". That's what access networks do; they provide access for the end user to content out on the internet. There's no other reason for Comcast to exist other than to provide it's users hugely asymmetrical access to content that resides on other networks.
We pay our ISPs to build that access network and to ensure they have enough interconnection with other networks that we get the data we request. We don't pay them to maintain some 1990s false economy concept of "peering is free only when network exchange roughly equal amounts of information".
That's long dead. We're not a bunch of text-based academic networks anymore. Content lives in a handful of big sources now. Without the ability to access that content, there's no reason to have an access network in the first place or for all those millions of customers to pay the ISP the monthly bill.
Comcast doesn't like this reality. They think that because they have the subscribers by the short and curlies that they can play dirty in order to get Netflix to agree to cough up all the revenue they're losing from cord cutters who are saying "no more cable TV". There is even quite a bit of evidence that Comcast was massively throttling Netflix before they finally capitulated and agreed to pay.
Note that Netflix agreeing to pay to peer directly with Comcast isn't evidence that Cogent wasn't up to the job. All it shows is that Netflix wasn't going to pay Cogent and then Comcast as well.
And that is the original source of the disagreement, just by the by. Comcast (and a couple others) getting butthurt by the fact that Netflix traffic grew so fast, so quickly that their existing agreements for peering with companies like Cogent started to look like something they weren't able to monetize to their liking. They started to demand that Netflix - and a couple of others - pay to push that traffic on top of the existing agreements, and refused to increase peering bandwidth with anyone carrying traffic from Netflix et al until they capitulated.
Netflix was perfectly happy having an intermediary do the transferring because it meant they built one point of interconnection and the rest was the intermediary's problem. Instead, they ended up with a series of messy peering arrangements directly with the access network providers each of which continually tries to shake down Netflix for more money.
That is exactly the position Netflix didn't want to be in. Now every time renegotiation comes around they get to play the same stupid games with these monopolistic cable cos as they play with the traditional content providers. Blacking out shows, threatening not to run season enders or other such pap.
I don't think anyone would have a problem with a transparent where Netflix is jacked directly into the access network. in that case it isn't so much "peering" as "that provider is now one of the ISPs for Netflix."
But the problem comes when companies like Comcast start shaking down companies using third party transit providers that already have agreements. Netflix pays their transit provider. Who pays whom to get bits and bytes on or off of Comcast's network at that point is 100% between the access provider and Comcast. At no point should the traffic origin matter.
No internet service provider should be allowed to charge anyone different amounts based on the origin or destination of the traffic*. Everyone connected to a network should pay for the total traffic load they put onto the network.
The end user pays for what they upload and what they download. Business users, colocation facilities, datacenters and so forth pay for what they upload and download. Peering with other networks is trickier, but generally can go up to a 5:1 access to transit ratio (sometimes higher) before money is requested, because the access networks know that without the "big content" on the transit networks, there's not much reason for them to be.
But you don't turn around to a peer and say "pay me more because you carry Netflix". You don't tell a peer "we won't increase interconnect with you or even negotiate with you becausse you carry Netflix". You don't blackmail individual content providers into directly interconnecting with your network, and you don't don't individual content providers "you pay more to put traffic on our network than peers or other datacenters/enterprise customers/etc because you're Netflix".
That's what network neutrality is all about. It isn't about getting "a free lunch". It's about treating traffic equally. Everyone pays. And everyone pays only once. And nobody gets to discriminate and nobody gets to blackmail.
It's about dealing fairly, and about preventing any one entity from using control of their piece of the pie to beat others into submission.
If Netflix turned around tomorrow and said "we're blocking Comcast customers" I'd be the first to say "not cool, Netflix." The problems are many, and only actually legislating net neutrality will help.
Right now, there is fuck all to prevent any given party from bullying the other, and the concept of "he who has the biggest stick wins" is completely unacceptable.
Right now, there is no means of arbitration for disputes except the courts, which take forever and don't have the understanding to make a rational decision here.
Right now, we have the same companies owning access networks, traditional content distribution networks and content creation networks. There are massive conflicts of interest.
At the core of it is this concept: no company should be able to use a dominant position in one market to create a dominant position in another market. This is exactly what Comcast is attempting to do, and it's absolutely unacceptable.
I am - to a limited extent, and only if used with care and for sound technical reasons - okay with prioritizing traffic under two scenarios:
1) traffic is prioritized based on content type, but explicitly not on source or destination. E.G. voice & video (which are latency sensitive) prioritized over other traffic. But it isn't okay to prioritize "VOIP from Comcast" while degrading Skype, or VOIP from another competitor. It also isn't okay to prioritize "video from Comcast" while throttling (or leaving prioritized) "video from Netflix". If you prioritize traffic from one class, you do it for all examples of that class to and from all sources. Period.
2) traffic that is classified as "emergency services" traffic. This could be - and I'd argue should be - hashed out in legislation. Traffic to/from police, fire, medical and rescue services should take priority over all other traffic. We are an increasingly internet dependent society, and in an emergency traffic to/from emergency services is all that matters.
I'm not saying Comcast - or any network provider - doesn't have the right to try to make a profit form their investment. By all means; they should do so. They take the risk, they invest in infrastructure, they should structure their business and price their wares such that they can stay in the black.
But they should not be allowed to build barriers to entry for competitors looking to enter the market. (See laws they've managed to push through that say "no other companies shall be allowed to lay fibre/build out last mile networks/etc." Especially ones that say municipalities or counties aren't allowed to do so.)
And what isn't okay - what never will be okay unless you're a fucking sociopath - is the idea that the economic interests of the company owning the access network should ever allow it to abuse it's role as gatekeeper to restrict or prioritize traffic based on origin or destination. Especially as a means of harming competitors.
Maybe if you give a bent fuck about your fellow man, weren't such a self-absorbed fuck and spent your time doing something other than obsessing about what other people do with their lives you'd be capable of understanding the above.
As it stands, I don't expect that any amount of reading, exposure to facts, or introduction to the real world results of giving ISPs free range to clamp down on competition will make you capable of being informed. You have your agenda - defend crony capitalism and the cartels that make it up - and you'll die before you admit that you're wrong.
Well you have fun with that. You're the digital equivalent of some sad old fuck who still rages about "niggers" being allowed in the same schools as white kids**. You are a representative of an old guard establishment. The rest of us are just waiting for you - and the rest of the aged bastard like you - to just die off and make the world a better place.
*With the possible exception of "on-net" versus "off-net" differentiation (a-la MPLS). This is because it simply costs far less to transit packets across your own network. As soon as it has to peer, then it makes sense to up the rates a little.
**And yes, in case you hadn't notice, network neutrality is a social issue, not one of "wanting to get a free lunch". It's about right of access and the right to be treated without discrimination. It's about customer rights and the role of the individual - and governments - in a society where mega corporations have unprecedented power over all aspects of our lives.