Netflix Pans Its Down Under 'Un-Metering' Deals

Says They Will Not Be Repeated
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Netflix says it was a mistake to strike its deals in Australia to exempt its users from data caps, and it won't happen again.

In a quarterly letter to shareholders this week, Netflix pointed out that it supported strong network neutrality rules, opposed data caps and did not approve of discrimination among video services.

But it also last month announced it had struck what it called "un-metering" deals in Australia and New Zealand. In the U.S., such un-metered plans have caught the eye of the FCC, whose new Title II-based network neutrality rules include a general conduct standard under which critics of those plans can file complaints.

"Data caps inhibit Internet innovation and are bad for consumers," said the company. But it has concluded that the "un-metering" approach sets a bad precedent. "In Australia, we recently sought to protect our new members from data caps by participating in ISP programs that, while common in Australia, effectively condone discrimination among video services (some capped, some not)," it said. "We should have avoided that and will avoid it going forward."

It also said that most fixed ISPs are raising their caps or eliminating them.

The company put in a plug for the FCC's Title II open Internet order as well. "We support strong net neutrality across the globe, allowing all consumers to enjoy the Internet access they pay for, without ISPs blocking, throttling, or  influencing content in the last mile or at interconnection points."

As Netflix had urged, the FCC included interconnection as a net neutrality issue, something cable operators had opposed, suggesting Netflix was simply trying to get a competitive advantage by zeroing out the price for those connections.

The company suggested other countries should follow the FCC's lead. "[W]e applaud the FCC for specifically addressing interconnection points. We hope this action serves as an example to regulators around the world looking to strengthen the innovative force of the Internet."