back to article Indie ISP to Netflix: Give it a rest about 'net neutrality' – and get your checkbook out

A pioneering American community ISP is telling customers that Netflix should spend more time improving its technology, more money on its network – and less energy on lobbying in Washington DC. BSD developer and author Brett Glass founded Lariat.net in Wyoming in 1992, making it one of the first ISPs in the world. He told The …

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Pint

Amen

This is (one of) the exact same point(s) I've been making for weeks.

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Re: Amen

Hold on a second. These ISP can start griping when I see every one of them that grips has a viable competitor in their geographic area. These broadband companies milk it for all it is worth and don't put any investment back into the system to improve service. Fact is we need 3 wired service providers for each area and then we'll start getting them to STFU.

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Trollface

Brett Glass

The "BSD developer" who gave us the bikeshed!

http://phk.freebsd.dk/sagas/bikeshed.html

PS: I love the smell of Ad Hominem in the morning, specially mine.

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Pint

Re: Amen

"…. don't put any investment back into the system to improve service."

We live in the forest, low density multiacre lots. A few weeks ago our ISP rolled out fiber optic to the area including going literally the extra mile to our neighbourhood. They've invested tens of millions here and tens of millions there and so on.

I'll acknowledge that YMMV.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Brett Glass

>>> The "BSD developer" who gave us the bikeshed!

And the freebsd security advisory!

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Anonymous Coward

...

The post office told me I buy too many stamps off them...

The taxi drivers told me I hire their taxis too often...

The restaurant told me I eat there too often...

The cinema hated I watched every film...

The ISP capped my bandwidth...

Luxuries are not a resource that is depleted, they are something people pay for. If a company turns down our custom, we take our money else where. Don't complain we spend it with your competitor when you stop the service you agreed to provide for the cash.

If your not an Internet Service Provider, than advertise as something more fitting like "media filtering service" and see if people pay for it...

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Re: ...

The post office charges you per letter, the taxi company charges you per mile, the restaurant charges you per dish (even the all you can eat buffet gets mad if you leave food on your plate), and the cinema charges you per film. But the Internet provider charges a flat rate whether you push 500 KB a month or 500 GB, simply because it's always been that way. The "solution" to this problem, unfortunately, may turn out to be metered pricing (and no, I'm not looking forward to it either.)

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Re: ...

In essence what he is saying is: 'Netflix makes LOTS of money and I want a share of that'. Absolutely nothing to do with net neutrality, and everything to do with pure greed and envy.

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Re: ...

> But the Internet provider charges a flat rate whether you push 500 KB a month or 500 GB, simply because it's always been that way. The "solution" to this problem, unfortunately, may turn out to be metered pricing (and no, I'm not looking forward to it either.)

Except "bits" aren't in limited supply, nor are the accumulated use of such what is causing congestion on the tubes. The problem is concurrent bandwidth use exceeding the ISP's capacity, which metered-by-the-bit internet caps do not remedy. For example, if everyone burns through their allotment of bits in the first week, when that new Netflix show comes on, there's still going to be congestion, even though all the customers are well within their limit of bits.

Hence the only logical method of such tiered pricing is using bandwidth bands (10Mb/s, 30Mb/s, etc.) as is currently done by most ISPs already.

The fundamental issue is that ISPs - all of them - grossly oversell their available bandwidth/throughput. It's the reason ISPs sell "up to xMb/s broadband", and historically this was generally good enough for most people. Then internet video streaming came along, and customers started demanding ISPs make good on the inflated numbers they've been spouting for years.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: ... Flat rate

No. No the ISP does not. My ISP charges me for the bandwidth. I get some in my monthly bill, and the rest I pay as I go.

Even "flat rate" is pay per GB in disguise. It's the ISP who decide to offer fate rate, so their decision if they can or cannot deliver such a service. They must advertise/provide a different service that is all they can provide/sell.

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Re: ...

The solution is metered pricing, because like other utilities it charges people for what they use. Can you image the waste if people paid a fixed charge for water, electricity & gas regardless of consumption? I find running water makes a nice background noise, but I don't leave a tap on because water is precious and it is costs per litre used.

Metered pricing will encourage ISPs to build faster networks, because you can download more data meaning that they can charge more.

Speed tier pricing makes each jump more expensive. A 10Mbps connection is about 3.24TB/month, 100Mbps is 32.4 TB/month, 1Gbps is 324TB/month. I shouldn't be expected to pay for someone else's 24/7 4HD netflix streaming habit, when I only want my fast connection to video conference for a couple of hours each month.

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Re: ...

They also charge you if you push nothing...

And metered pricing doesn't work. If it did, then you should be paid for data going in the other direction...

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Anonymous Coward

Re: ...

Speaking as an optical transducer spending my time these days driving a single mode fibre inside a 10Gbps to copper to fibre media converter, I would like to be paid per symbol rather than a flat rate. Thanks.

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Re: ...

" Can you image the waste if people paid a fixed charge for water, electricity & gas regardless of consumption?"

Um...You said 'tap' instead of 'forcet' which implies you are in the UK - yet you still don't know that the majority of properties here have unmetered water supplies?

In my 40+ years, every property I have lived at in the UK has had a fixed water charge, and funnily enough I've never left taps on for no good reason!

Similarly, I won't leave live video streaming running on my unmetered internet connection if I'm not using it.

If you think about it, I'm sure you'll find many things you don't waste even when cost isn't a factor.

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Re: ...

"The "solution" to this problem, unfortunately, may turn out to be metered pricing (and no, I'm not looking forward to it either.)"

Not sure why you were downvoted so much, and although I don't agree with what you're saying, I come from the "pay per bit" side and it is a big mess.

Our "all you can eat" buffet meals are never that, the fine print has some moving goal post the inflicts limits. There's nothing inherently wrong with that except: the bulk of our software comes from the US were buffet is order of the day. We're stuck with apps that eat data like there's no tomorrow. But there IS a tomorrow, when the bill arrives and we're fucked.

Especially when it comes to media, even here, there is a definite push to internet radio, internet TV, internet everything - all coming from a place where data is free for all. Even if we're willing to pay for this monstrosity, it STILL doesn't fix the pipes. Our beloved NBN is nearly a stillbirth unless you're lucky to be living in the middle of nowhere (great for testing - no-one pays attention to small townfolk when things go wrong), and the pipes in the city areas where they're really needed are in limbo - GovCo has given up and is trying to sell it off.

Bottom line is, we're still fucked, because on one side you're getting one group who's telling us "this" is the way it's supposed to be, on the other side, no bastard wants to pay for it.

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Re: ...

@Jamies Jones

forcet? Don't you mean 'faucet'?

Regards, AC

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Re: metering

according to wikipedia (I know), UK metered supplies covered 33 of households and leads to a 5-15% reduction in usage. I know I am much more aware of water use on a metered supply than I was ona flat rate supply

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Re: @mathew42

The problem is that it is not about the amount of water delivered, but the capacity to deliver water.

You might be able to fill a swimming pool using a garden hose, but it will take days to do so. You probably would prefer to pay for a sufficient supply to be able to fill it in hours rather than days - same amount of water, totally different demands on infrastructure.

Bandwidth is the requirement for the end user. Bits used is of concern to the provider for their transit cost, together with bandwidth capacity to meet the peaks of demand.

Bandwidth is a fixed cost, transit cost is a variable one.

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Re: solution is metered pricing

Not in this instance. The Netflix issue is congestion between the ISP peers and/or Netflix, not between the customer peers the ISP is serving. Hence the point about allowing the ISP to cache the data.

Yes, I'd generally prefer metered pricing because I think it solves the the freetard skimmer problem, but this isn't a problem it would fix. I'll particularly note this as a FIOS customer who also uses Netflix. The rest of my streaming is fine, it's ONLY Netflix which has issues with buffering, stutter, or sometimes even not being able to display information about a tv show/movie I want to watch.

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Re: ...

The solution is metered pricing, because like other utilities it charges people for what they use. Can you image the waste if people paid a fixed charge for water, electricity & gas regardless of consumption?

See, this is where the water & power utility analogy breaks down. Water, electricity and gas (CNG or LPG) are finite resources. The utility company has to buy that from someone else to give it to you, the more you use, the more stuff the utility company has to buy (electricity, gas, water, whatever).

Data, however, is sent through fixed "pipelines". Your ISP only pays for a fat pipe, with a fixed data rate and sometimes variable pricing on certain data rates (say, base rate covers up to 10 Mb/s, then you get charged per Mb/s extra up to the physical limit for that pipe being 30 Mb/s), but the thing is: they are paying the same as you are charged, by data rate. So it shouldn't be an issue if you're using 5%, 50% or 100% of your allocated data rate all the time because that is what the ISP sold you in the first place!!!! If ISPs want to get better data rates, they should upgrade their uplink pipes, increase pricing for home subscribers or reduce advertised speeds. The days of 50:1 contention ratios are over.

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Re: ...

"forcet? Don't you mean 'faucet'?"

Errrrrr, more than likely! *cough*

"Regards, AC"

Thanks, AC! You get around a lot!

PS. Three downvotes for getting a spelling wrong - either that or some people resent me not wasting data.. The rest was simply factual. How can you downvote that?

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Re: metering

"according to wikipedia (I know), UK metered supplies covered 33 of households and leads to a 5-15% reduction in usage."

Fair enough, though I've never known anyone to leave taps on for the hell of it.

Though I do know some people with meters don't flush the toilet...

" I know I am much more aware of water use on a metered supply than I was ona flat rate supply"

Aware, maybe, but I'm curious to how you use less. (or rather, what you used before than you don't now).

Not being a git, I'm genuinely clueless - other that watering the garden, maybe washing the car less, but as for the indoor use...?

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Wonderful

We need more exposés like this.

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Anonymous Coward

One word: Cry me a river.

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Crymeariver?

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That's 4 words.

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Coat

Patient: "Doctor Doctor, wherever I go, I keep thinking I hear people talking about the Ukranian crisis "

Doctor: "Oh boo hoo. Crimea river"

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Love it!

Laughed for a minute straight. i needed that! :)

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some balance...

nice to hear another vantage point, and I am sure they have a good point. Netflix, stop it.

But it still doesn't detract from the aims of what *should* be boring network companies, and trying to find a way to treat data as "special" in some way.

Gigabit everywhere, then let's argue about "special" data...

P.

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That's rather interesting

Any other smaller ISPs have anything to say about it?

What about our ones over here?

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Re: That's rather interesting

Ok, I'll try. I work at a very small ISP around the world but try to follow what is happening in the West.

Big problems with the U.S. Netflix situation are geographical and "telco-political" (yeah I made that up, deal with it). Very large country, largely sparsely populated where these micro/nano-ISPs (often wireless/WISP) provide only viable service that could described as "approaching broadband". Other option would be the incumbent and bad DSL over bad copper, often at ridiculous prices. To someone not from US it may seem unbelievable that even in middle of urban area, say Silicon Valley, there might be only one provider who can service you with residential fibre or high-speed cable.

The other issue is importance of private peering over Internet Exchanges. In Europe large amount of interconnection between providers is done at IXPs. At US there are very few IXPs and providers have their own private peering arrangements. Add to this the geographical/competetive situation and politics of peering by the big (at least a local monopoly really) players and what is left is the 1000 mile dark fibre from the rural WISP to Netflix.

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Re: geographical and "telco-political"

While that's all true, there's something else at work here. For a US resident, I live in a sweet spot for ISP cable competition: the DC metropolitan area. Comcast and Verizon BOTH have the area wired for high speed service, plus there are a number of other players in the area. Even so, Verizon is not delivering Netflix adequately. Until a few months ago, the same was true with Comcast. Which doesn't mean those problems won't need to be solved to get reliable high speed streaming to rural customers, only that even if they had that service Netflix would still be an issue. In fact, if Brett Glass is correct, the issue will be more pronounced in high density metropolitan areas than low density rural ones, simply because there will be a higher likelihood of parallel streams in the high density area.

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nice to see

another voice of reason. Too many people think Netflix does no wrong.

(myself I killed my account when they had the first price hike because I realized how little I was actually using it at the time - have not seen any reason to re-subscribe to it or any other streaming media service)

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Anonymous Coward

@Nate Amsden

What a ridiculous analogy! So you got rid of your car because your Insurance went up and you weren't using your car enough to justify the cost but by your own reasoning blamed the car manufacturers?

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Netflix told us that, if we wanted to improve streaming performance, we should pay $10,000 per month for a dedicated link, spanning nearly 1,000 miles, to one of its "peering points" – just to serve it and no other streaming provider.) It then launches misleading PR campaigns against ISPs that dare to object to this behavior.

Well, Netflix is selling the product that needs that fat pipe so really they should foot the bill. On the other hand you could see it as the ISP footing the bill to better server its customers. However if the ISP foots the bill for the link then it should be able to do whatever it wishes with it. I don't see why Netflix would have any say what the ISP does with a link the ISP pays for.

This kind of ties in with the recent threads about the Netflix/Verizon spat on El Reg. There were discussions about where the "fault" lies and I did raise the question about peering arrangements and who actually should pay for what.

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Who 'foots' the bill.

This kind of ties in with the recent threads about the Netflix/Verizon spat on El Reg. There were discussions about where the "fault" lies and I did raise the question about peering arrangements and who actually should pay for what.

I recall that you certainly did.

My take:

IF

Netflix 'foots the bill' for the 'fat pipe' to the ISP, then Netflix has every right to say how it is used

BUT

if the ISP 'foots the bill' for a fatter pipe, then Netflix can go out and fuck itself

HOWEVER

if they agree to 'split' the bill, then that may be a reasonable commercial arrangement

It all depends on who blinks first, or gets their nuts squeezed by a regulator first.

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Doesn't sound like he knows what he is talking about to me...

"Netflix generates huge amounts of wasteful, redundant traffic and then refuses to allow ISPs to correct this inefficiency via caching"

So this doesn't exist then: https://www.netflix.com/openconnect

...for example.

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FAIL

Browses to https://www.netflix.com/openconnect...

"You need to enable cookies on your web browser."

Fuck you, NetFlix.

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So who foots the bill for all the upstream traffic these things generate when Netflix keeps updating content, according to the article?

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It's sounds like he covered that to be honest. Obviously Netflix puts a different spin on it, but it really says the same thing. "ISPs can do this either by free peering with us at common Internet exchanges," but if that isn't nearby you'll have to pay for the link yourself "or can save even more transit costs by putting our free storage appliances in or near their network." i.e. host their power-hungry servers for free.

It's not too hard to imagine that neither option is very appealing for a small ISP.

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Anonymous Coward

"Free Peering with us" = $10,000 dedicated link to the peering site he mentioned, or putting free storage appliances on the network [ actually, I guess that is caching ] also mentioned.

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That's the problem - Netflix doesn't work with small ISPs for openConnect, and even if they did, Netflix doesn't pay for the hardware or pipe for it.

Netflix would be totally on the good-fight side of this if they offered openConnect to everyone (and maybe kicked in some of the operating costs). As it stands, it leave a bad taste in your mouth when small ISPs get ignored like this - it's another strike against them that they shouldn't have to deal with.

Personally, I think they should use services like Akamai, which were built for exactly this situation, but it's possible that the content providers don't allow it. I suspect that IS the case, or openConnect wouldn't need to exist in the first place.

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FAIL

@vince

Glass knows very much what he is talking about - obviously much more than most of those making comments here. After all, he actually does it for a living.

The "Free" peering that the page you posted mentions requires $10K+/month connection, and the "storage appliances" draw significant amounts of power and generate a lot of heat (10 Amp @ 120 VAC each)

The storage appliances are not caching servers, they don't download content on demand and store it if a second customer requests it. They pre-download and store popular content so that it is there IF a customer requests it, and act as their CDN to push content to other servers. They require 10 GB Ethernet connections, often consume over 7 GIGABITS of internet bandwidth even when a customer isn't streaming video, and download a minimum of 7 Terabytes of data nightly for the catalog refresh.

In short, they are extensions of Netflix's infrastructure. Servers that any other company would pay to have co-located at a facility. Netflix tries to bully their way in for free co-location *AND* make the ISP pay to haul the traffic.

Since Netflix has a limited number of peering points, even if you connect to a Tier 1 peer if you aren't geographically close the connection between the peering points (the Internet backbone, outside of the ISP's network) get congested and cause viewing problems even the the ISP's connections to the backbone are nowhere near saturated.

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Anonymous Coward

" So this doesn't exist then: https://www.netflix.com/openconnect

...for example."

Presumably these are the "servers, not caches" that "Netflix wants to host for free", that he describes.

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Pint

Re: @vince

"...Netflix tries to bully their way in for free co-location *AND* make the ISP pay to haul the traffic."

Agreed. My working assumption is that Netflix are being manipulative. I'll grant that the USA and elsewhere are plagued with subpar ISPs, but that doesn't really change the apparent fact that Netflix is manipulting the anger of the unwashed masses through a campaign of misinformation.

Thankfully my ISP is recently stellar (fiber, 175 Mbps), and I've no use for the brain Pablum on offer from Netflix. So I'm not directly involved in this mud slinging festival of deception.

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Anonymous Coward

"You need to enable cookies on your web browser."

Posted on a forum which, you know, requires cookies?

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Re: very appealing for a small ISP.

Might not be appealing, but does it provide the service you promised to your customer? I'm paying my ISP for the connectivity, not Netflix.

If the ISP wants to modify our contract to include a Netflix peering surcharge, because the cost of that connection is disproportionate to the rest of the service (use whatever method of determining typical non-Netflix user you want) that's fine and I'll evaluate the value of that new contract. After which I'll decide whether paying the charge or canceling Netflix. BUT I expect you'll be adding similar charges for other heavy broadband usages such as video Torrent downloads as well.

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Re: very appealing for a small ISP.

"Might not be appealing, but does it provide the service you promised to your customer? I'm paying my ISP for the connectivity, not Netflix.

If the ISP wants to modify our contract to include a Netflix peering surcharge, because the cost of that connection is disproportionate to the rest of the service (use whatever method of determining typical non-Netflix user you want) that's fine and I'll evaluate the value of that new contract."

Exactly! I have sympathy for the ISPs, but the way the model is structured, it isn't Netflix pushing lots of data into ISPs, it's the ISP customers requesting/pulling/downloading the data as allowed under the terms of their contract.

If an ISP no longer finds the 'all you can eat' (but hopefully not many of you will) model sustainable, then they need to reevaluate that model. Whether it's to place restrictions, up the prices generally, or charge more for higher usage (and it should be based on the data amount, not who's supplying it) then so be it.

As it is, they are charging customers for the right to download that data, and then when they do, they want to charge the provider of that data too.

Yeah, I can see how as Netflix gets popular it seriously impacts on your business model, but that's not Netflixs fault for supplying data your users have paid to be able to receive. The flaw is your underselling, and it's only your problem.

You'd have the same problem if all your users simply downloaded the same amount of data from loads of other random sites.. You going to try and charge every site for the data your users download from it?

P.S. I'm referring to the basic bandwidth issue - the CDN/cache/local server/hosting aspect is another big can of worms

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I am not sure that I am with the ISP in this case

Traffic is traffic is traffic - why is it different for the ISP piping Netflix to the customer than any other traffic?

As far as I remember, the price for GB was 2-3 cents at the interchange, so all those 2 - 3 TB of data that Netflix is pushing to the servers at the ISP is $40 - 90 dollars a day. I am not sure how much power they would draw, but let's put some made up numbers, let's say 20 servers at 200 W each, which should be 4 kW/h, about 50 cents/hour, or 12 dollars a day.

So for 100 bucks a day, an ISP can host Netflix? Is $3000 a massive amount for even a small ISP with a few thousand customers? I don't know, I am asking.

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Re: I am not sure that I am with the ISP in this case

Once you have the traffic on your network, it's not an issue. The reason ISPs like Verizon don't like it is because the offset of data coming in to data going out on those links is very lopsided, and that messes up transit agreements and costing.

A balanced link from one ISP to another is consider a wash financially - both sides have equal skin in the game so it's in everyone's interest to keep the data flowing. With (for example) cogent's link to verizon sending 10 times as much to Verizon than it gets back from them, it means that one side has more power than the other, and you're seeing Verizon throw it around. Is that a good thing for the net? Of course not, but it makes Verizon subscribers more likely to give in and get pay-per-view from them instead of getting the same movie from netflix.

Lately, I've been using itunes rentals a lot more for PPV stuff - it costs a buck less than my ISP charges, and because it's downloaded instead of streamed, you get a much better viewing experience all around if bandwidth is an issue. I would really like to see Netflix switch to an expiring-download model for their net-viewable content - it would be no less secure than a stream (i.e. neither is secure at all if you know what you're doing and are determined to snag a copy), it would stop a lot of these problems, and the viewing experience would be better.

Netflix's software is really infuriating in how it buffers - even if you purposely pause the video to let it build up some content, at some point it will throw the buffer on the floor anyway. Just give us the option to let the whole bar fill if we want!

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