Netflix's Hastings makes a case for stronger net neutrality policy

While taking the time to compliment Cablevision (NYSE: CVC) for its "strong net neutrality" stance, Netflix (Nasdaq: NFLX) CEO Reed Hastings took to task other "big ISPs" that he claims constrain the over-the-top signal and create a degraded viewing experience for Netflix subscribers.

Reed Hastings, Netflix


These constraints, he wrote in a Netflix blog item, are why the government should set a strong net neutrality policy so that "ISPs such as AT&T (NYSE: T) and Comcast Nasdaq: CMCSA) don't restrict, influence or otherwise meddle with the choices consumers make."

Hastings, commenting publicly on the issue for the first time, urged a stronger net neutrality than "the traditional form … which was recently overturned by a Verizon (NYSE: VZ) lawsuit. This weak net neutrality isn't enough to protect an open, competitive Internet; a stronger form of net neutrality is required."

While specifically calling out Cablevision for its net neutrality practices and noting an agreement the OTT provider recently inked with Comcast, Hastings railed against ISPs that he said are not offering a fair shake to OTT providers in both technical and financial terms. This, especially, includes the interconnection fees charged to intermediate networks such as Cogent Communications (Nasdaq: CCOI) and Level 3 Communications (NYSE: LVLT).

In a blog item earlier this week, Michael Mooney, general counsel-regulatory policy at Level 3 accused some ISPs of "playing a game of 'chicken' with the Internet."

In the item, Mooney said that some "ISPs break the Internet by refusing to increase the size of their networks unless their tolls are paid (and) are placing a bet that because content providers have no other way to get their content to the ISPs subscribers, that they will cave in and start paying them."

Level 3 carries Netflix traffic so Hastings understandably stood by Mooney's assertions that some control is needed on interconnection charges.

"Netflix believes strong net neutrality is critical, but in the near term we will in cases pay the toll to the powerful ISPs to protect our consumer experience," Hastings wrote.

This toll, such as an agreement between Netflix and Comcast, only guarantees an interconnection, not priority access.

"Comcast has been an industry leader in supporting weak net neutrality and we hope they'll support strong net neutrality as well," he wrote.

For more:
- Hastings posted this blog entry
- and Mooney posted this blog entry

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