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Businesses

EA Tests Subscription Access To Game Catalog 45

Posted by Soulskill
from the in-case-you-wanted-to-subscribe-to-yet-another-service dept.
An anonymous reader writes: Electronic Arts has announced a new program called "EA Access," a subscription-based service that will grant Xbox One users access to a small catalog of EA's popular games, as well as early trials of upcoming games. They're beta testing the service now, and the available games are FIFA 14, Madden NFL 25, Peggle 2, and Battlefield 4. (More titles will be added later.) They're charging $5 per month or $30 per year. It probably won't ever include their newest releases, but it's interesting to see such a major publisher experimenting with a Netflix-style subscription service.
Media

Enraged Verizon FiOS Customer Seemingly Demonstrates Netflix Throttling 393

Posted by timothy
from the choking-hard dept.
MojoKid (1002251) writes The ongoing battle between Netflix and ISPs that can't seem to handle the streaming video service's traffic, boiled over to an infuriating level for Colin Nederkoon, a startup CEO who resides in New York City. Rather than accept excuses and finger pointing from either side, Nederkoon did a little investigating into why he was receiving such slow Netflix streams on his Verizon FiOS connection. What he discovered is that there appears to be a clear culprit. Nederkoon pays for Internet service that promises 75Mbps downstream and 35Mbps upstream through his FiOS connection. However, his Netflix video streams were limping along at just 375kbps (0.375mbps), equivalent to 0.5 percent of the speed he's paying for. On a hunch, he decided to connect to a VPN service, which in theory should actually make things slower since it's adding extra hops. Speeds didn't get slower, they got much faster. After connecting to VyprVPN, his Netflix connection suddenly jumped to 3000kbps, the fastest the streaming service allows and around 10 times faster than when connecting directly with Verizon. Verizon may have a different explanation as to why Nederkoon's Netflix streams suddenly sped up, but in the meantime, it would appear that throttling shenanigans are taking place. It seems that by using a VPN, Verizon simply doesn't know which packets to throttle, hence the gross disparity in speed.
Businesses

Cable Companies: We're Afraid Netflix Will Demand Payment From ISPs 199

Posted by timothy
from the who-pays-whom-for-what dept.
Dega704 (1454673) writes While the network neutrality debate has focused primarily on whether ISPs should be able to charge companies like Netflix for faster access to consumers, cable companies are now arguing that it's really Netflix who holds the market power to charge them. This argument popped up in comments submitted to the FCC by Time Warner Cable and industry groups that represent cable companies. (National Journal writer Brendan Sasso pointed this out.) The National Cable & Telecommunications Association (NCTA), which represents many companies including Comcast, Time Warner Cable, Cablevision, Cox, and Charter wrote to the FCC:

"Even if broadband providers had an incentive to degrade their customers' online experience in some circumstances, they have no practical ability to act on such an incentive. Today's Internet ecosystem is dominated by a number of "hyper-giants" with growing power over key aspects of the Internet experience—including Google in search, Netflix and Google (YouTube) in online video, Amazon and eBay in e-commerce, and Facebook in social media. If a broadband provider were to approach one of these hyper-giants and threaten to block or degrade access to its site if it refused to pay a significant fee, such a strategy almost certainly would be self-defeating, in light of the immediately hostile reaction of consumers to such conduct. Indeed, it is more likely that these large edge providers would seek to extract payment from ISPs for delivery of video over last-mile networks."
Related: an article at Gizmodo explains that it takes surprisingly little hardware to replicate (at least most of) Netflix's current online catalog in a local data center.
Movies

Netflix Reduces Physical-Disc Processing, Keeps Prices the Same 353

Posted by timothy
from the rising-overhead dept.
Nom du Keyboard writes: After seeing a drop in my DVD service from Netflix I got a customer service representative tonight to confirm that Netflix has ceased processing DVD returns on Saturdays nationwide. And that they did this without notifying their customers, or reducing prices to compensate for the reduced service. Given that the DVD selection still far outstrips their streaming selection, this may be news to others like myself who don't find streaming an adequate replacement for plastic discs. My experience up until recently, unlike Netflix's promise of a 1-3 day turnaround at their end which gives them lots of wiggle room to degrade service even further, had been of mailing in a DVD on day one, having them receive it and mail out my next selection on day two, and receiving it on day three. Now with them only working 5 days and many U.S. Post Office holidays, they're still getting the same money for significantly less. The Netflix shipping FAQ confirms the change, and a spokesperson said, "Saturdays have been low volume ship days for us."
Books

Amazon Isn't Killing Writing, the Market Is 192

Posted by Soulskill
from the but-amazon's-not-driving-writing-to-the-hospital dept.
An anonymous reader writes: Amazon has been struggling for price control of the book and ebook markets for years, battling publicly and privately with publishers while making a lot of authors nervous. With yesterday's announcement of "Kindle Unlimited," a Netflix-like ebook subscription service, Amazon is reaching their endgame in disrupting the book-selling business. But there are other companies doing the same thing, and an article at TechCrunch makes the case that it's the general market, rather than any company in particular, that's making it harder for authors to earn a living. "Driving the prices lower isn't likely to expand the market of readers, since book prices don't seem to be the deciding factor on whether someone reads a book (time is). But those lower prices directly shrink the incomes of authors, who lack any other means of translating their sales into additional revenue. That's why I don't think the big revolution for writers and other content producers will come from Amazon, but rather from startups like Patreon, which allow producers to build audiences directly and develop their own direct subscription model with their most fervent fans."
Verizon

Verizon's Accidental Mea Culpa 390

Posted by Soulskill
from the information-wants-to-be-hamstrung dept.
Barryke writes: Verizon has blamed Netflix for the streaming slowdowns their customers have been seeing. It seems the Verizon blog post defending this accusation has backfired in a spectacular way: The chief has clearly admitted that Verizon has capacity to spare, and is deliberately constraining throughput from network providers. Level3, a major ISP that interconnects with Verizon's networks, responded by showing a diagram that visualizes the underpowered interconnect problem and explaining why Verizon's own post indicates how it restricts data flow. Level3 also offered to pay for the necessary upgrades to Verizon hardware: "... these cards are very cheap, a few thousand dollars for each 10 Gbps card which could support 5,000 streams or more. If that's the case, we'll buy one for them. Maybe they can't afford the small piece of cable between our two ports. If that's the case, we'll provide it. Heck, we'll even install it." I'm curious to see Verizon's response to this straightforward accusation of throttling paying users (which tech-savvy readers were quick to confirm).
United States

FCC Public Comment Period For Net Neutrality Ends Tomorrow, July 15 69

Posted by samzenpus
from the use-your-outside-voice dept.
samzenpus (5) writes "The deadline for the FCC's public comment period on their proposed net neutrality rule is coming up fast. The final day to let the FCC know what you think is tomorrow, July 15. A total of 647,000 comments have already been sent. Google, Facebook, Netflix, Amazon and other tech companies are making a final push for net neutrality saying that the FCC decision, "shifts the balance from the consumers' freedom of choice to the broadband Internet access providers' gatekeeping decisions." The Consumerist has a guide to help you through the comment process, so make sure your voice is heard."
Youtube

YouTube Issuing "Report Cards" On Carriers' Streaming Speeds 110

Posted by Unknown Lamer
from the not-like-you-can-do-anything dept.
OakDragon (885217) writes In the shadow of the "Net Neutrality" debate, Google's YouTube has created a service to report on your carrier's usage and speed, summarizing the data in a "Lower/Standard/High Definition" graph. You may see the service offered when a video buffers or stutters. A message could display under the video asking "Experiencing interruptions? Find out why." Find your own provider's grade here.
Movies

Netflix Is Looking To Pay Someone To Watch Netflix All Day 86

Posted by samzenpus
from the how-do-you-hire-that-which-has-no-life dept.
An anonymous reader writes with news about a dream job for binge-watching couch potatoes in the UK. Ploughing through your new favourite series on Netflix is something you probably enjoy doing after a working day, but what if it was your working day? You see, Netflix has a fancy recommendation engine that suggests movies and shows you might like based on your prior viewing habits. To do that successfully, it needs information from a special group of humans that goes beyond the basics like genre and user rating. "Taggers," as they're known, analyse Netflix content and feed the recommendation engine with more specific descriptors if, for example, a film is set in space or a cult classic. In short, these people get paid to watch TV all day, and Netflix is currently hiring a new tagger in the UK.
Australia

New Zealand ISP's Anti-Geoblocking Service Makes Waves 153

Posted by samzenpus
from the open-it-up dept.
angry tapir writes New Zealanders and Australians are often blocked from using cheap streaming services such as Netflix and Hulu and instead at the mercy of local content monopolies for popular shows such as Game of Thrones. However, a New Zealand ISP, Slingshot, has caused a stir by making a previously opt-in service called 'Global Mode' a default for its customers. The new service means that people in NZ don't need to bother with VPNs or setting up proxies if they want to sign up to Netflix — they can just visit the site. The service has also caused a stir in Australia where the high price for digital goods, such as movies from the iTunes store, is a constant source of irritation for consumers.
Government

Netflix Could Be Classified As a 'Cybersecurity Threat' Under New CISPA Rules 125

Posted by timothy
from the negative-I-am-a-meat-popsicle dept.
Jason Koebler (3528235) writes "The cybersecurity bill making its way through the Senate right now is so broad that it could allow ISPs to classify Netflix as a "cyber threat," which would allow them to throttle the streaming service's delivery to customers. "A 'threat,' according to the bill, is anything that makes information unavailable or less available. So, high-bandwidth uses of some types of information make other types of information that go along the same pipe less available," Greg Nojeim, a lawyer with the Center for Democracy and Technology, said. "A company could, as a cybersecurity countermeasure, slow down Netflix in order to make other data going across its pipes more available to users.""
Android

Google I/O 2014 Begins [updated] 49

Posted by samzenpus
from the hot-off-the-presses dept.
Google I/O, the company's annual developer tracking^wdevelopers conference, has opened today in San Francisco. This year the company has reduced the number of conference sessions to 80, but also promised a broader approach than in previous years -- in other words, there may be a shift in focus a bit from Google's best known platforms (Chrome/Chrome OS and Android). Given its wide-ranging acquisitions and projects (like the recent purchase of Nest, which itself promptly bought Dropcam, the ever smarter fleet of self-driving cars, the growing number of Glass devices in the wild, and the announcement of a 3D scanning high end tablet quite unlike the Nexus line of tablets and phones), there's no shortage of edges to focus on. Judging from the booths set up in advance of the opening (like one with a sign announcing "The Physical Web," expect some of the stuff that gets lumped into "the Internet of Things." Watch this space -- updates will appear below -- for notes from the opening keynote, or follow along yourself with the live stream, and add your own commentary in the comments. In the days to come, watch for some video highlights of projects on display at I/O, too. Update: 06/25 17:41 GMT by T : Updates rolling in below on Android, wearables, Android in cars, Chromecast, smart watches, etc.Keep checking back! (Every few minutes, I get another chunk in there.)
Businesses

Netflix Shutters Its Public API 59

Posted by timothy
from the seemed-so-promising dept.
esarjeant (100503) writes "I guess it shouldn't come as a total surprise, but Netflix has gone from not issuing new developer keys to announcing the entire [public API] program will be shut down. It's a real shame they are going to be taking this offline; it spurred quite a bit of innovation for the Netflix service. For major sites that have already gone live it sounds like Netflix will let them keep going, but if you're looking to build the next FeedFliks, then you better look elsewhere."
The Internet

FCC Looking Into Paid Peering Deals 37

Posted by timothy
from the and-people-trust-the-fcc dept.
An anonymous reader writes The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) announced on Friday that it has successfully obtained the details regarding paid peering deals between Netflix and Comcast as well as Verizon and is working to obtain similar information for other video streamers and their respective ISP peers. The FCC's goal is, as they pointed out themselves, not to regulate as yet but to examine these deals with the goal of providing some transparency to the American public regarding the internet services they pay for. Verizon and Comcast issued statements expressing their willingness to be open about their peering activities and stressed that no regulation is required. The peering market 'has functioned effectively and efficiently for over two decades without government intervention,' Comcast claimed at a congressional hearing. The Free Press policy director nevertheless points out that 'when the FCC required reporting from AT&T after the company blocked Skype in 2009 and Google Voice in 2012, the disclosures revealed that AT&T was indeed misleading its customers.'
The Courts

Netflix Trash-Talks Verizon's Network; Verizon Threatens To Sue 364

Posted by samzenpus
from the paying-the-price dept.
jfruh (300774) writes "If you're a Verizon broadband customer and you've tried streaming Netflix over the past few days, you might've seen a message telling you that the "Verizon network is crowded" and that your stream is being modified as a result. Verizon isn't taking this lying down, saying that there's no proof Verizon is responsible for Netflix's issues, and is threatening to sue over the warnings."
DRM

Netflix Ditches Silverlight For HTML5 On Macs 202

Posted by Unknown Lamer
from the giving-up-freedom-for-tv dept.
An anonymous reader writes "Netflix yesterday furthered its plans to ditch Silverlight for HTML5 on Macs, having already done so last year in IE11 on Windows 8.1. HTML5 video is now supported by Netflix in Safari on OS X Yosemite, meaning you can stream your favorite movies and TV shows without having to install any plugins." Courtesy of encrypted media extensions.
The Internet

Comcast CEO Brian Roberts Opens Mouth, Inserts Foot 343

Posted by timothy
from the contortions-of-all-kinds dept.
lpress (707742) writes "At a recent conference, Comcast CEO Brian Roberts rationalized charging Netflix to deliver content by comparing Comcast to the Post Office, saying that Netflix pays to mail DVDs to its customers but now expects to be able to deliver the same content over the internet for free. He forgot to mention that the Post Office does not charge recipients for those DVDs. The underlying issue in this debate is who will invest in the Internet infrastructure that we badly need? Comcast has a disincentive to invest because, if things bog down, people will blame content providers like Netflix and the ISP will be able to charge the content provider for adequate service. If ISPs have insufficient incentive to invest in infrastructure, who will? Google? Telephone companies? Government (at all levels)? Premises owners?"
Media

Virtual DVDs, Revisited 147

Posted by Soulskill
from the still-waiting-on-virtual-laserdiscs dept.
Bennett Haselton writes: "In March I asked why Netflix doesn't offer their rental DVD service in 'virtual DVD' form -- where you can 'check out' a fixed number of 'virtual DVDs' per month, just as you would with their physical DVDs by mail, but by accessing the 'virtual DVDs' in streaming format so that you could watch them on a phone or a tablet or a laptop without a DVD drive. My argument was that this is an interesting, non-trivial question, because it seems Netflix and (by proxy) the studios are leaving cash on the table by not offering this as an option to DVD-challenged users. I thought some commenters' responses raised questions that were worth delving into further." Read on for the rest of Bennett's thoughts.
Google

Google Fiber: No Charge For Peering, No Fast Lanes 238

Posted by Soulskill
from the will-carry-more-weight-when-their-infrastructure-ages dept.
An anonymous reader writes "Addressing the recent controversy over Netflix paying ISPs directly for better data transfer speeds, Google's Director of Network Engineering explains how their Fiber server handles peering. He says, 'Bringing fiber all the way to your home is only one piece of the puzzle. We also partner with content providers (like YouTube, Netflix, and Akamai) to make the rest of your video's journey shorter and faster. (This doesn't involve any deals to prioritize their video 'packets' over others or otherwise discriminate among Internet traffic — we don't do that.) Like other Internet providers, Google Fiber provides the 'last-mile' Internet connection to your home. ... So that your video doesn't get caught up in this possible congestion, we invite content providers to hook up their networks directly to ours. This is called 'peering,' and it gives you a more direct connection to the content that you want. ... We don't make money from peering or colocation; since people usually only stream one video at a time, video traffic doesn't bog down or change the way we manage our network in any meaningful way — so why not help enable it?'"
Television

Americans Hate TV and Internet Providers More Than Other Industries 255

Posted by Soulskill
from the show-of-hands-who's-surprised? dept.
An anonymous reader writes "According to a new report by the American Customer Satisfaction Index, subscription TV providers and ISPs were the industries Americans disliked the most over the past year. 'Over-the-top video services, like Netflix and Hulu, threaten subscription TV providers and also put pressure on ISP network infrastructure. Customers question the value proposition of both, as consumers pay for more than they need in terms of subscription TV and get less than they want in terms of Internet speeds and reliability.' Unsurprisingly, Time Warner Cable and Comcast are the companies with the most dissatisfied customers. The ACSI said, '[I]t's a concern whenever two poor-performing service providers combine operations. ACSI data consistently show that mergers in service industries usually result in lower customer satisfaction, at least in the short term. It's hard to see how combining two negatives will be a positive for consumers.'"

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