Netflix CEO Reed Hastings didn’t hide his feelings all that much in a recent Facebook post about unfair application of bandwidth caps and Net Neutrality silliness by Comcast. In it, he talks about spending the weekend using various video streaming services, such as Netflix, HBO GO, Xfinity, and Hulu:
“When I watch video on my Xbox from three of these four apps, it counts against my Comcast internet cap. When I watch through Comcast’s Xfinity app, however, it does not count against my Comcast internet cap.”
“if I watch last night’s SNL episode on my Xbox through the Hulu app, it eats up about one gigabyte of my cap, but if I watch that same episode through the Xfinity Xbox app, it doesn’t use up my cap at all. The same device, the same IP address, the same Wi-Fi, the same internet connection, but totally different cap treatment.”
Macworld explains a bit about why Comcast may see this as perfectly fair, given that the service is delivered via a private IP network (and not the “public” part of the Internet) and, therefore, is not bound by Net Neutrality constraints. They say “The Xbox 360 running our XFINITY TV app essentially acts as an additional cable box for your existing cable service, and our data usage threshold does not apply.”
For the average user, however, this is cold comfort and Hasting’s comments underline the way in which it represents more of a trap than a service. If you’re running XFINITY TV on your Xbox, are you going to go looking on the Comcast FAQ to see if it counts towards your bandwidth cap? Of course not. And Comcast knows this.