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HBO, Showtime and Sony seeking special ISP deals? There’s more to it…


Are HBO, Showtime and Sony pushing for “separate lanes” and “special treatment” from ISPs as the Wall Street Journal reported on Friday? Not according to Dan Rayburn of

The WSJ article set off net neutrality alarm bells by reporting that the three nascent Web TV companies want to be treated by ISPs as “managed services.” Such treatment, said the story, would amount to a special lane on the web and and would also make possible an exemption from monthly data-usage caps and avoid surcharges for binge-watching.

Rayburn, a self-described authority on streaming media technology, content, and business models, has a different take on the details laid out in the story.

According to Rayburn’s contacts in the industry, ISPs are not in talks to manage over-the-top (OTT) traffic differently from other content owners. Even the WSJ article, said Rayburn, noted that Comcast “wasn’t willing to do anything for any one content provider that it couldn’t offer to every other company.”

Rayburn believes that the WSJ is conflating the idea of caching content inside an ISP’s last mile with “managed content.” Caching content inside the ISP’s last mile reduces the number of routers that video content must traverse in answer to customer’s request for OTT video, but “[caching] doesn’t come with any kind of special treatment or prioritization of any kind,” says Rayburn.

Last February, when the news media and the blogosphere erupted over the Comcast/Netflix interconnect agreement, Rayburn wrote that “…those who don’t cover network infrastructure for a living should not be trying to explain the technical details,” and that the much derided agreement was “good for Netflix, Comcast and for consumers and it has absolutely nothing to do with Net Neutrality.”