Netflix asks FCC to control ISP data caps

Netflix living room couple
Source: Netflix

Netflix has asked the FCC to consider regulating usage-based pricing and data caps currently being deployed by internet service providers.

“Watching television shows and movies on the internet is no longer a novelty,” Netflix said in comments delivers to the FCC last week. 

“Consumers increasingly expect more from their broadband connection, and they expect that broadband internet will deliver a television experience that is the same or better than what they receive from their cable service, satellite provider, or local broadcaster,” Netflix added. “Accordingly, Netflix supports the commission’s move to define mobile advanced telecommunications capability at the proposed 10/1 Mbps threshold and urges the commission to evaluate the effects that broadband caps have on the deployment of advanced telecommunications capability.”

According to Sandvine, streaming video accounts for more than 70 percent of data usage. And as the largest supplier of streaming video in North America, Netflix has been a virulent opponent of ISP policies that limit data usage. 

This has come as leading cable companies like Comcast are experimenting with various usage-based pricing policies. 

“Data caps (especially low data caps) and usage based pricing discourage a consumer’s consumption of broadband, and may impede the ability of some households to watch Internet television in a manner and amount that they would like,” Netflix said in its filing.

While Comcast has set its usage threshold at 1 terabyte, other operators have placed the limit for their fastest tiers at 300 gigabytes. 

“A data cap or allotment of 300 GB of data per month or higher is required just to meet the internet television needs of an average American,” Netflix said. “This does not account for the other things that consumers typically do with their broadband connections, such as web ­browsing or downloading games or apps from the internet.”

For its part, Cable One has argued that limiting data usage is important to the proper allocation of network resources.

In a note responding to a customer complaint to the FCC earlier this month, the Phoenix, Ariz.-based cable company said, "Managing Cable One’s network for optimal performance is crucial for providing a reliable service. Establishing reasonable data plans is an important part of that process."

For more:
- read this Netflix FCC filing
- read this MediaPost story

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