AT&T's Netflix subscribers now have less traffic to worry about when streaming movies and television shows, as a deal has been struck between the streaming service and the telecommunications company to lower buffering times.
The deal is much like Netflix' agreement with Comcast and Verizon -- the streaming media company will pay for prioritized access through AT&T's networks and into the homes of the telecommunications company's subscribers.
The terms of AT&T and Netflix's deal remain undisclosed and an official announcement hasn't been expected, but an AT&T spokeswoman confirmed the establishment of an agreement between the two companies.
"We reached an interconnect agreement with Netflix in May and since then have been working together to provision additional interconnect capacity to improve the viewing experience for our mutual subscribers,'' stated an AT&T spokeswoman. "We're now beginning to turn up the connections, a process that should be complete in the coming days."
AT&T has given Netflix an "EZ-Pass" of sorts that works like the electronic tollbooths that allow motorists to zip through tolls, while other drivers scour their vehicles for change in backed-up lines. The premium pass Netflix has purchased allows the company's content priority access up to the interconnect, the point outside of each subscriber's local network where Internet service providers' (ISP) networks terminates.
While Netflix has given in and purchased priority access from yet another ISP, Netflix CEO Reed Hastings, in a March 20 blog post, spoke out against the practice and in favor of net neutrality.
"To ensure the Internet remains humanity's most important platform for progress, net neutrality must be defended and strengthened," stated Hastings. "The essence of net neutrality is that ISPs such as AT&T and Comcast don't restrict, influence or otherwise meddle with the choices consumers make. The traditional form of net neutrality which was recently overturned by a Verizon lawsuit is important, but insufficient."
Verizon and Netflix came to terms in a deal that granted the streaming service priority access into the homes of subscribers, back in April 2014. Verizon customers, however, still complained of buffering and quality issues with the streaming service, which lead to a blame game between Verizon and Netflix.
On its way from Netflix' servers, streaming content is first transported by ISPs contracted by Neflix. Major ISPs such as AT&T and Verizon pick up the streaming content and deliver it the rest of the way to the interconnect point.
Netflix has accused Verizon of assessing a toll to deliver the streaming content to the interconnect. Verizon has blamed Netflix for choosing unqualified ISPs for transporting the streaming content to Verizon.