The Wall Street Journal reports that Netflix and Comcast—the company that just bought up Time Warner Cable, remember—reached a landmark deal with potentially serious ramifications for net neutrality. Basically, Netflix is going to pay Comcast for more direct access to its network.
Video gamers use a ton of bandwidth for streaming video, whether it's through Netflix apps on game consoles or PCs and mobile devices, or whatever they might be broadcasting or consuming on services like Twitch.tv. And though the Netflix/Comcast agreement, revealed in a Wall Street Journal report this morning, doesn't involve bandwidth used for multiplayer gaming, the fact a service like Netflix has basically conceded defeat could have serious ramifications if something like Xbox Live ever sees its signal dipping on Comcast's pipeline.
Comcast vowed that it had not been throttling Netflix, of course, but the fact remained that Netflix's traffic had slowed to the point that something had to be done. Our colleagues at Gizmodo have more on this deal below. Its effect on the concept of net neutrality—that is, an Internet that is free and open to all, without the pipeline owners showing preferential treatment to some (or charging others)—is difficult to say right now. But it doesn't say good things for any Internet consumer—gamer, cinephile or whomever— when Netflix chooses to pay the freight to Comcast and, inevitably, pass that cost along to its consumers, instead of fight for them.