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Netflix strikes streaming-traffic deal with AT&T too

In an effort to decrease buffering and increase streaming speeds, the video service signs a deal with the Internet service provider to get a direct connection to broadband customers.


Following recent deals with Comcast and Verizon, Netflix confirmed Tuesday that it has also reached an agreement with AT&T to provide a direct connection from the video service to broadband customers. The hoped-for result is less buffering and faster streaming for Netflix customers.

"We reached an interconnect agreement with AT&T in May and since then have been working together to provision additional interconnect capacity to improve the viewing experience of our mutual subscribers," a Netflix spokesperson told CNET. "We're now beginning to turn up the connections, a process that should be complete in the coming days."

Tech news site Mashable first reported the deal, citing sources familiar with the negotiations.

The terms of the agreement were not revealed, but they're likely similar to those of a "paid peering" deal Netflix struck with Comcast in February. For that deal, Netflix agreed to pay Comcast to directly connect its content delivery network to home broadband users who subscribe to Netflix. The video service came to a similar deal with Verizon in April.

Netflix's deal with Comcast was made after a long dispute over whether Netflix would agree to pay Comcast for the direct connection. In recent months, the dispute appeared to be heating up, with suggestions that Comcast customers were seeing their connections to Netflix degraded.

Netflix's agreements with the Internet service providers come as the Federal Communications Commission has proposed new rules about how ISPs can control traffic on the Internet. Some consumer advocacy groups worry that such agreements may be a setback for Net neutrality, which aims to prevent broadband providers from blocking access or discriminating against Internet traffic traveling over their connections.

According to the FCC, its Net neutrality protections do not cover Netflix' interconnection arrangements with ISPs. That said, the government agency did say it is gathering more information on these peering deals as part of its overall effort to find out what's really happening on the Internet.