Perhaps the timing could have been better, but Netflix CEO Reed Hastings penned a letter on Wired this week insisting that the best way to “save the net” is to not “give in to big ISPs.”
The letter, posted on Tuesday (August 19), appeared coincidentally on the same day that Netflix and Time Warner Cable confirmed that they had signed a paid interconnection deal, an agreement that followed similar ones that Netflix has signed with three other big ISPs – Comcast, Verizon Communications, and AT&T.
In the missive, Hastings replayed much of Netflix’s position on the matter – that it reluctantly agreed to sign those paid peering deals because ISPs have allowed their peering points degrade.
Netflix, which is now offering access to a small but growing library of 4K content, also wants the FCC to factor such “pay-to-play” agreements into the discussion as the Commission pursues new Open Internet rules. The ISPs have argued that interconnection deals are common and represent how the Internet has done business for years.
Netflix’s preference is that ISPs join Open Connect, the company’s private content delivery network that relies on network edge caches that Netflix provides for free, though it’s up to the ISP to supply the power and cooling and space to operate them. Hastings didn’t mention Open Connect by name in the Wired letter, but noted that Netflix connects with “hundreds” of ISPs globally, and “99 percent of those agreements don’t involve access fees.”
“This year we reluctantly agreed to pay AT&T, Comcast, and Verizon for access to our mutual subscribers, who were seeing a rapid decline in their Netflix viewing experience because of congestion at the connection point where we transfer content to the ISP,” Hastings wrote, noting earlier in the piece that the “next Netflix won't stand a chance if the largest US Internet service providers are allowed to merge or demand extra fees from content companies trying to reach their subscribers.”
Hastings, who reiterated that Netflix opposes the proposed Comcast-Time Warner Cable deal, also came out against broadband usage caps, claiming that such fees mean “consumers pay twice -- first for their broadband connection and second through higher-cost or lower-quality Internet services.”