Two-timing Netflix will speed the downfall -- and rebirth -- of a free Internet

Netflix's deals with Comcast and Verizon are terrible in the short run, but bring us closer to Net neutrality's moment of truth

Everything new is old again, including my last post. No sooner do I -- along with 99.9 percent of the other tech pundits on the planet -- mildly tweak Netflix's nose about its deal with Comcast, it does it with Verizon. Part of me wants to hear Netflix justify this move, considering all the criticism it's generated, but part of me wants to tune it out, lest my brain feel like it's undergoing a bikini wax as those words enter my head. However, I remain optimistic.

Sure, on the surface, the Internet's future looks bleak. We can pin that situation directly on Reed Hastings' butt since he's the only guy dumb enough to think he can make such moves while claiming Netflix is in favor of Net neutrality. Then again we shouldn't be surprised.

[ Unpopular opinion: The FCC is doing the best it can with Net neutrality. | For a humorous take on the tech industry's shenanigans, subscribe to Robert X. Cringely's Notes from the Underground newsletter and follow Cringely on Twitter. | Can we talk? Send your tech war story to offtherecord@infoworld.com and get a $50 AmEx gift cheque if InfoWorld publishes it. We're all ears! ]

Not only is Netflix essentially underwriting Net non-neutrality, it's already promising to up our bill by $1 or $2 in the very near future as a result. I'm sure it won't stop there if the company makes more deals along these lines. And the company will because in Hastings' so-called mind, he has to. If this becomes a trend, the Internet as we know it is headed directly toward a dirt nap.

It also means I'm dumping Netflix. Heck, it's not like I can ever find a movie I want in Netflix's streaming library; I might as well drop it for Amazon. Bezos' baby is probably more expensive in the long run, but at least there's an 85 percent chance it'll let me stream my desired movie on my own schedule.

Google Fiber: A thread of hope

It's also going to make me pounce on Google Fiber if the service ever creeps near where I live. I figure Google is the only pipe provider with a vested interest in serving up a neutral Internet, even if it's undoubtedly greasing the path for its primary revenue generator: online advertising. Granted, it wants to worm its way into as much of our lives and private thoughts as possible, but Google seems to understand that a Web favoring only massive content providers won't cut it. (Note: If Larry and Sergey decide to buy a few content companies over coffee one morning, that little brainstorm is going right out the window.)

In fact, I may already be whistling through my pants, since Google and Verizon penned a proposal to the FCC back in 2010 that essentially asked for a fast-lane/slow-lane Internet with fast lanes reserved for corporate mega monsters that can afford to pay. The quickest Internet would be reserved for big wallets, while the neutral Web we all know and love would be slow and sluggish for us, the poor beggars who can't afford the high-speed-delivery price tag.

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