Netflix Urges FCC To Pass Open Internet Rules

The future of streaming video will turn on whether the Federal Communications Commission bans broadband providers from tampering with online traffic, Netflix argued to the agency this week.

Today’s online entertainment marketplace is intensely competitive, which benefits consumers,” the streaming video company wrote in comments filed with the agency Thursday. “Fostering that competition, however, depends on protecting the open Internet.”

The company's filing comes in response to the FCC's recent proposal to reinstate the Obama-era net neutrality rules -- including ones that would prohibit broadband providers from blocking or throttling content, and charging higher fees for prioritized delivery. Those rules, passed in 2015, were repealed during the Trump administration.

Netflix writes that internet service providers -- meaning companies like Comcast and Charter -- have the “means and motivation” to hinder competition.

The streaming video company argues that many broadband providers compete with independent companies like itself -- including by selling subscriptions to cable tv packages, or by offering their own streaming services. Those providers have a "clear incentive" to give their affiliated services a competitive advantage by either degrading the quality of competitors' videos, or increasing competitors' costs, Netflix writes.

The FCC's proposal has drawn more than 50,000 comments to date. As with prior neutrality proceedings, the responses reflect deep divisions.

In general, consumer groups, web companies and left-leaning policy organizations support the proposed rules, arguing they will prevent carriers from engaging in censorship or otherwise limiting subscribers' ability to access streaming video, search engines and other online services.

On the other hand, broadband access providers and other opponents say the proposed rules are unnecessary and not authorized by Congress. For instance, cable lobbying group NCTA--The Internet & Television Association told the FCC broadband providers don't want “to undermine the value and competitiveness of their services by engaging in blocking, throttling, or other harmful conduct.”

The organization also said there is “no credible evidence of [internet service provider] misconduct in the broadband marketplace.”

But Netflix and other neutrality proponents counter that several states -- including California and Washington -- enacted their own version of net neutrality regulations after the FCC's national rules were repealed.

It would have been against [internet service providers'] interests to exercise market power and engage in easy-to-detect, non-neutral behavior because doing so would have dramatically increased the likelihood that they would face enforcement in California and Washington, and that, in response, the Commission and additional states would adopt strong new rules," Netflix wrote in its filing.

The FCC hasn't yet said when it will vote on the proposal.

Next story loading loading..