Netflix Looks for Help on the Hill

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Washington — Netflix’s push into online video
delivery continued last week, this time on the policy

The company
sent a letter to Capitol
Hill lawmakers,
signed by co-founder
and president
Reed Hastings, opposing
a Republican-
backed effort to
invalidate the Federal
rule vote last
Dec. 21. Essentially,
though, the letter
was a vehicle to
bring up other issues.

Hastings suggested
that Congress
might want to
step in further, taking
the opportunity
to reshape the argument
about letting
all bits move
freely to a networkmanagement
that Netflix has
been been part of
by proxy. The issue:
Comcast’s decision
to charge Internetbackbone
Level 3 Communications
for the extra
traffic generated by consumers who use Netflix’s Instant
Streaming online video-on-demand service.

During the comment period on network-neutrality
rules, Level 3 complained to the FCC that Comcast’s
charge for that extra traffic was a violation of openaccess

The FCC declined to address such backbone peering
relationships in its order, but Hastings suggested
the chairman and ranking member of the House Energy
& Commerce Committee might want to examine
“all the issues associated with preserving an open, vibrant
and high-speed Internet.”

That, he suggested, would include some Internetservice
providers charging to “let bits onto their networks,”
even though their customers had requested
those bits.

“As long as we pay for getting the bits to the regional
interchanges of the ISPs’ choosing,” Hastings wrote,
“we don’t think ISPs should be able to use their exclusive
control of their residential customers to force us
to pay them to let in the data their customers desire.”

Not surprisingly, given the bandwidth-hungry
nature of online video, he also took aim at
broadband-usage caps. While he said he advocated
an “unlimited-up-to-a-large-cap model,” a pay-pergigabyte
regime would not be fair.

Comcast had no response to Netflix’s letter.