Netflix has reached a deal with Verizon to improve the speed and quality of its streaming content to subscribers. This is the second deal in which Netflix pays an ISP to ensure that its movies and TV shows stream more quickly; the first, with Comcast, was announced two months ago. Aware that its service creates heavy Internet traffic, nearly one-third of downstream traffic in North America, Netflix has been making moves to improve connectivity.
No, it’s still not quite the death of network neutrality. Netflix inking a deal with Verizon to increase its level of access to the latter ISP’s network sure looks corpse-like, but the actual mechanics of the arrangement aren’t quite the tiered internet of our fears. This deal, like the one Netflix made with Comcast earlier this year, sure looks like the big guys colluding—well, it is precisely that actually—but who is being colluded against is less certain. In order to understand what’s going on with today’s deal (a deal confirmed today, anyhow), we need to defer first to How the Internet Actually Works. When you load up some URL, you’re not connecting to the internet directly via your computer.