Who wants to pay more for your internet connection to make sure you can play games on it? Because that’s what Cox Communications is now offering with its Elite Gamer package, an extra $15 charge to ensure that your online game experience has minimal lag and ping. You know, the sort of “fast lane” connection that net neutrality rules were meant to prevent and that various companies (including Cox) assured people wouldn’t be created. Hooray!
Cox’s product will route game-specific traffic through specialized servers and connections, so customers who buy in to the service won’t notice faster speeds to other websites. The result will be that people who pay extra for the faster connection will have a natural advantage over people who don’t, and while connection speed has always been an issue, this only exacerbates the problem. There are also questions to be asked about the technical side (including how things are flagged as game-specific connections), but none of that really changes the fundamental issue.
has a piece up arguing that what Cox is actually doing is rebranding an existing service called Wtfast and is intended only for Windows PC users – and that “the service wouldn’t have violated net neutrality rules even if they hadn’t been repealed.” Or, as MOP’s Ben put it – based on the articles, since as he jokes he hasn’t “seen their router configurations or anything” – “There are technical distinctions between prioritizing traffic and treating it different within the network and a piece of software finding the fewest network hops between point A and B. Those are the semantics Cox is using to say they don’t have a ‘fast lane.’ They do have a point in that the way that this works, this is not something they’d even be able to provide to everybody. It sounds like it requires both a client and server side installation, and at this time the client piece only exists for PCs. But at the end of the day, does the consumer even understand or care about that difference? It’s an additional cost above and beyond the normal package that results in better service. If it doesn’t violate the ‘letter of the law,’ so to speak, it comes very close to violating the spirit.” (Thanks, TJ!)