In the ongoing battle between consumers and giant corporations that provide the internet, Netflix has clearly picked a side.
In a recent filing to the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), Netflix urged the organization to more closely examine the bandwidth caps that companies like Comcast and Verizon have placed on their internet services.
“Data caps (especially low data caps) and usage-based pricing (‘UBP’) discourage a consumer’s consumption of broadband, and may impede the ability of some households to watch Internet television in a manner and amount that they would like,” Netflix wrote. “For this reason, the Commission should hold that data caps on fixed-line networks and low data caps on mobile networks may unreasonably limit Internet television viewing and are inconsistent with Section 706.”
The Section 706 that they refer to is a part of the Telecommunications Act, where Congress instructs the FCC to decide whether new technology (in this case, internet television) is being offered to all Americans in a reasonable and timely manner.
Many internet service providers (ISPs) have given their customers monthly data caps (for example, 250 GB per month). Of course, customers can go over these limits if they are willing to pay expensive overage fees. The ISPs have argued that these caps are necessary in order to successfully share the network bandwidth across their millions of users. However, most studies have shown this to be a phony excuse.
Netflix has long championed the concept of net neutrality. That is, that no traffic on the internet should be more or less important than any other. Some ISPs have tried to get services like Netflix to pay them in order to prioritize their date to customers.
“Because of a low data cap, an online service may need to pay an ISP to zero-rate its traffic to enable that ISP’s customers to access the online service,” Netflix wrote. “Such arrangements create an incentive for ISPs to maintain artificially low caps.”