Netflix CEO Reed Hastings gave Comcast a quick jab on his Facebook page yesterday, accusing the company of possibly violating net neutrality principles. Citing Comcast's uniquely preferential treatment of video streamed via Xfinity's Xbox app, Hastings called upon Comcast to either apply data caps equally or not at all.
As Hasting pointed out in his post, video streamed through the Xfinity app on an Xbox ignores the 250GB per month data cap imposed by Comcast. Unlike Xfinity though, other third-party video streaming services like HBO Go, Netflix and Hulu chew up metered bandwidth, bringing Comcast subscribers closer to their monthly limit.
"Comcast no longer following net neutrality principles. Comcast should apply caps equally, or not at all. I spent the weekend enjoying four good internet video apps on my Xbox: 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."
Source: Reed Hastings, facebook.com
In 2008, Comcast began enforcing a hard 250GB data cap for all residential subscribers. The only way to raise the data cap has been to purchase their business-class service -- a service which, in many areas, costs roughly double that of their most premium residential plan.
Last month, Comcast announced that content streamed through Xbox Live or its Xfinity Xbox app would not affect the data cap of its subscribers.
While Hastings considers this practice to be unfair, Comcast has seemingly preempted this complaint by addressing it on their Xbox FAQ. The company describes the Xfinity TV app as essentially acting like an additional cable box. Additionally, in order for the Xbox app to work, users must subscribe to a level of service which includes On Demand (i.e. digital cable which requires a box or card).
So, what do you think -- is Comcast's treatment of Xfinity a breach of net neutrality?