Net Neutrality Fight Comes To Netflix

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Net Neutrality Rules! But for how long?

Media Decoder:

Level 3 Communications, a central partner in the Netflix online movie service, accused Comcast on Monday of charging a new fee that puts Internet video companies at a competitive disadvantage.

Level 3, which helps to deliver Netflix’s streaming movies, said Comcast had effectively erected a tollbooth that “threatens the open Internet,” and indicated that it would seek government intervention. Comcast quickly denied that the clash had anything to do with network neutrality, instead calling it “a simple commercial dispute.”

The dispute highlighted the growing importance of Internet video delivery — an area that some people say needs to be monitored more closely by regulators. Net neutrality, which posits that Internet traffic should be free of any interference from network operators like Comcast, is thought to be on the December agenda of the Federal Communications Commission.

“With this action, Comcast demonstrates the risk of a ‘closed’ Internet, where a retail broadband Internet access provider decides whether and how their subscribers interact with content,” Thomas C. Stortz, the chief legal officer for Level 3, said in a statement Monday. Those issues cut to the heart of Comcast’s imminent acquisition of NBC Universal, which is in the final stages of review by the F.C.C. and the Justice Department. The F.C.C. is considering attaching a condition to the merger that would aim to keep Comcast’s Internet network open to competitors, according to public filings this month.In theory, without government action, Comcast could speed up streams of NBC programs and slow down streams of its rivals’ programs. “This may be one of those teaching moments for consumers to understand what’s at stake,” said Michael McGuire, a media analyst for Gartner...read on

This is a preview of what's in store for America if Big Business has its way with the Internet. Netflix is hugely successful and popular; heck, I'm a big fan of Insta-watch myself. Does anybody really believe the free market Gods of Capitalism will suddenly not worry about the Almighty bottom line when they get the chance to make more profits? Netflix is becoming a direct competitor with Comcast and other content providers and it's only a matter of time before companies begin to make it harder for them to do business if they feel it will take cash out of their pockets.

UPDATE:
The fight is gearing up on the mobile web side too: AT&T Gains FCC's Ear as Regulators Near Decision on Net Neutrality Rules

AT&T Inc. has spoken more frequently than any other company with U.S. officials as they near a decision on rules that may restrict how carriers offer mobile Internet service, according to regulatory filings.

Jim Cicconi, a Republican who is AT&T’s top Washington executive, talked at least six times about the net-neutrality rules from Nov. 4 to Nov. 26 with Edward Lazarus, chief of staff at the Democrat-led Federal Communications Commission, according to disclosure filings with the agency...read on

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