The problem with more people turning to the Internet to stream movies and television shows is that it adds a significant amount of traffic to the already contested thoroughfare that the public Internet uses. Considering how HBO, Showtime, and Sony are all invested in online media streaming, it shouldn’t come as a surprise that these three companies are calling for Internet providers to create a separate lane for their content that would avoid the connection of the main Internet while also excluding them from data caps.
HBO, Showtime, and Sony Corp. are jumping into online television. But instead of putting their Web traffic on the public Internet’s main thoroughfare, they want to be in a separate lane that would ensure their content gets special treatment. Those companies have talked to major broadband providers such as Comcast Corp. about having their Web TV services treated as “managed” services, according to people familiar with the discussions. In effect, that would move them away from the congestion of the Internet, which they fear will only get worse as more people opt to stream movies and TV shows on the Web. The other benefit: A separate lane would be exempt from monthly data-usage thresholds operators enforce for public Internet traffic, saving customers from the surcharges that can kick in if they binge on too many episodes of “Game of Thrones” or “Homeland.” Such arrangements would tap into a gray area of the debate over “net neutrality,” the principle that all traffic on the Internet should be treated equally.