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Time Warner Cable to Netflix: We want your 3D films, not your network

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Internet video service Netflix is apparently refusing to provide HD content - which includes its 3D and Super HD movies - to networks which refuse to be a part of its Open Connect content delivery network, prompting cries of partiality as private networks spread.

Netflix doesn't charge for interconnection of Open Connect; although there may be some overhead for connecting companies, the idea is to get the traffic off the public internet and save everyone money. But Time Warner Cable doesn't feel that way and is publicly complaining that it is being blackmailed into interconnections it doesn't want.

"We believe it is wrong for Netflix to withhold any content formats from our subscribers and the subscribers of many other ISPs. Time Warner Cable’s network is more than capable of delivering this content to Netflix subscribers today," the company told Multichannel News.

Netflix responded that peering, connecting directly to the company's Open Connect network, is free, and it will even provide free caching servers to ISPs which have rack space available, but that's ultimately because direct connections save Netflix money by avoiding the public internet and the costs associated with it.

Peering is free to ISPs consuming more than 2Gb/sec of Netflix traffic most of the time (95th percentile), with peering points at 17 of the more popular international internet nodes, so for a large ISP there seems little reason not to plug in unless the quality of one's video is a market differentiator.

Video delivered over the internet is rarely as good as that received over a cable or broadcast, simply because the bandwidth available between source and display is either guaranteed or exceeds the requirement to such an extent as to be moot. Netflix reckons its HD content needs 5Mb/sec, within the grasp of most decent broadband connections, but the last mile isn't necessarily the slowest part of the link these days.

Netflix therefore wants to limit HD content to ISPs with whom it has a direct connection, which includes BT, Clearwire Bell Canada, Virgin and even Google Fiber but not Time Warner Cable.

What's interesting is how that will affect end users. Netflix customers already see different film lists, based their previous viewing, but all have access to the same content if they search for it. How they'll react when they discover the content available differs depending on the ISP supplying the connectivity will be interesting to see, assuming they notice at all. ®

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