AT&T's Cicconi: Netflix shouldn't complain about the peering deals it has agreed to

Continuing to escalate the public debate about net neutrality at a Wednesday panel discussion conduced by the Aspen Institute in Washington, D.C., AT&T (NYSE: T) senior executive VP Jim Cicconi accused Netflix (NASDAQ: NFLX) of "double talk" in regard to its position on net neutrality.

Cicconi, who has led AT&T's rhetorical portion of the often snarky ongoing public policy debate between the major ISPs and Netflix, wondered why subscription video-on-demand service was complaining about paid peering after it had just made interconnection agreements with Comcast (NASDAQ: CMCSA) and Verizon (NYSE: VZ).

"They've been able to get agreements that they obviously like with both Comcast and Verizon," Cicconi told a group of reporters from outlets including the Washington Post. "Then why on Earth would they have agreed to them? I think that's double-talk. No company that's in a for-profit business is going to act against its economic interests. Sure, any company would like to pay zero for services they need to deliver their business, but that's not a practical approach."

Earlier this year, Netflix agreed to peering deals with Comcast and Verizon to get better performance of streaming video on their respective networks. However, Netflix has complained that it was forced into these arrangements ever since.

Just moments before Ciccone made his remarks, on the same panel, Chris Libertelli, VP of global government relations for Netflix said that such "access charges" could backfire on ISPs, leading to new federal regulations that call for these broadband providers to pay fees to Netflix, similar to how pay-TV providers pay retrans fees to broadcasters. 

For more:
- read this Washington Post story
- read this Broadcasting & Cable story

Related links:
Responding to Netflix PR stunts 101: Don't get into a fight you can't win
Reyburn: Netflix's ISP complaints may just be hot air
Cable companies accused of faking consumer opposition to net neutrality
AT&T's Cicconi says net neutrality debate feels like 'Groundhog Day'