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Apple haggles with ISPs for fast lanes to its own websites – industry guru

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Apple is the latest firm said to be in talks with US ISPs on a deal to provide direct interconnects for improved streaming media performance.

Industry analyst Dan Rayburn of Frost and Sullivan said that the firm has been talking to carriers as part of a larger campaign to build out a content delivery network (CDN) for its streaming platforms such as iTunes and iCloud.

"As part of their build out, Apple is currently negotiating paid interconnection deals with some of the largest ISPs in the U.S." Rayburn said.

"I’m not going to disclose which ISPs they are talking to and what deals they have already done, but it’s interesting to note that with all the talk lately of net neutrality, peering and interconnect relationships, Apple isn’t out in the market making any complaints."

The interconnection deals would give a direct line from Apple's services to ISPs, allowing the company more control over the quality of services and potentially reducing bottlenecks when streaming content.

According to Rayburn, any deal would be similar to the interconnect agreements which Netflix has agreed to with Comcast and Verizon. In those deals, the streaming video company and service provider announced a 'direct connect' installment which would provide improved service quality, but would not grant the firm preferential treatment on the network itself.

Apple was reported in March to be working on an interconnect deal with Comcast which would include support for a branded set-top streaming box.

Such deals have become a point of contention in the battle over network neutrality. While Netflix has been at the forefront of making direct connection deals with carriers, the company has also been amongst the most vocal opponents of internet 'fast lanes' and the prospect that carriers could charge site operators and service providers in order to ensure that their traffic is not throttled by (real or perceived) network congestion.

Apple has thus far remained quiet on the subject of net neutrality as the matter continues to be debated in Washington DC. Earlier this week company co-founder Steve Wozniak, who has long-since left Apple in any official role, spoke out in support of net neutrality protections. ®

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