The news today that Netflix has agreed to... well... some kind of deal with Comcast, has disheartened defenders of "net neutrality."
Comcast, the country’s largest cable and broadband provider, and Netflix, the giant television and movie streaming service, announced an agreement Sunday in which Netflix will pay Comcast for faster and more reliable access to Comcast’s subscribers.
The deal is a milestone in the history of the Internet, where content providers like Netflix generally have not had to pay for access to the customers of a broadband provider.
... It is also unclear whether the Comcast-Netflix deal violates the principles of what is known as net neutrality — where all content providers have equal and free access to consumers.
Comcast claims that Netflix will receive "no preferential treatment." Well then, what exactly is Netflix paying for, then? And won't this cost eventually be passed on to Netflix customers, meaning we're essentially paying Comcast twice for internet service? City Light doesn't charge me more per kilowatt to use a toaster oven than a toaster, so why should Comcast be able to charge me more per megabit to use Netflix than Amazon Prime?
Obviously, the short term solution toward fending off an Internet in which broadband companies favor some content over others is for the FCC to get off its ass, reclassify these companies, and legally impose net neutrality on them. But longterm, the only answer to the growing power and concentration of companies like Comcast is to create additional competition. And I don't see how we do that in Seattle without building municipal broadband.