If your favorite video streaming service is experiencing slow buffering, then your ISP is unsurprisingly partly to blame — and not just because it’s delivering a shoddy connection. Ars Technica reports that ISPs and video service providers often get into heated disputes over “how much one network should pay to connect to another,” which can result in ISPs intentionally slowing down traffic from YouTube and Netflix.
Ars cites several cases of ISPs fighting with video streaming services, including a dispute between Google and French ISP Free where Google unsuccessfully accused the company of intentionally failing to upgrade infrastructure to slow down YouTube traffic; an argument between Time Warner Cable and Netflix where TWC refused Netflix’s offer of a “free caching service that would provide better performance to Netflix users on Time Warner’s network”; and Comcast demanding money from Level 3 for carrying Netflix traffic over the last mile of its network.
These sorts of practices are worrisome, Ars writes, because they could really put prohibitive costs on new content providers if they’re forced to pay last-mile costs to every ISP that carries their traffic.
“If by default a peering relationship has to be paid by the online service provider, then the next Facebook will never exist, and the next YouTube will never exist because from day one they will be straddled with a cost they will be unable to bear,” Benoît Felten, the CEO of Diffraction Analysis, tells Ars.