Level 3 Communications, a major partner with Netflix in sending streaming data to customers on multiple platforms, has accused internet service provider Comcast of charging additional tolls whenever Comcast customers request Netflix data on their network. They have stated in a statement put out yesterday that they will be appealing to the Federal Trade Commission, who are set to meet on December 21st to discuss potential regulations that would force a policy of network neutrality – defined as a policy of non-discrimination towards network traffic – on ISPs. Level 3’s charges against Comcast are that if the fee isn’t paid, Comcast would block their customers from being able to view streaming Netflix content, and that they are being anti-competitive.
Comcast has responded via their company blog, accusing Level 3 of inaccurately portraying their negotiations on network usage fees while doubling the amount of traffic that Comcast would have to take on. Comcast, for their part, states that the relationship involves a 5:1 ratio of traffic going to and from Comcast, respectively, and that it is not fair to expect them to take on that burden. This comes after Netflix announced changes to their pricing plans that would emphasize streaming content.
FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski has stated that his agency will investigate Level 3’s claims. Meanwhile, Comcast is still waiting on approval on a 51 percent acquisition of NBC Universal, which net neutrality proponents claim could harm the open internet as Comcast would be able to exercise greater control over NBC’s programming and either limit it to non-Comcast customers or prioritize it over other traffic for Comcast customers.
I have a lot to say on this matter. Look for my full opinions in a coming Unbranding the Sheep within the next few days.
Full disclosure: the author of this post is a Comcast internet subscriber