Netflix warns customers will protest threat to net neutrality

Video on demand service Netflix has warned that it “would vigorously protest and encourage [its] members to demand the open internet”, should a threat to net neutrality surface. The threat comes in the wake of US operator Verizon’s successful challenge to the FCC’s open Internet Order.

Netflix said that Verizon’s victory in the US Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit means that, in principle, domestic ISPs could legally throttle content streamed to Netflix customers. It stated its concern that a motivating factor for Verizon could be to charge content providers, such as Netflix, to pay fees to stop them from doing so.

“Were this draconian scenario to unfold with some ISP, we would vigorously protest and encourage our members to demand the open internet they are paying their ISP to deliver,” Netflix wrote in a letter to its shareholders.

However, the firm acknowledged that it is not likely that operators would take such a “consumer-unfriendly path of discrimination”.

The firm stated that ISPs already have profitable operations which they intend to continue growing and that they recognise that consumer appetite for high-quality streaming video. As a result, many are working with streaming video services providers to enable subscribers to enjoy high quality streaming services more consistently.

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For the record, US carrier Verizon, which brought the case against the FCC, said last week’s ruling would not impact its users. “Today’s decision will not change consumers’ ability to access and use the internet as they do now. The court’s decision will allow more room for innovation, and consumers will have more choices to determine for themselves how they access and experience the internet,” the carrier said.

“In the long-term, we think Netflix and consumers are best served by strong network neutrality across all networks, including wireless,” Netflix said. “To the degree that ISPs adhere to a meaningful voluntary code of conduct, less regulation is warranted. To the degree that some aggressive ISPs start impeding specific data flows, more regulation would clearly be needed.”

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