Public Knowledge Raises Concerns over Netflix/Comcast Agreement

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Today, Netflix agreed to pay Comcast for direct access to its network. This comes after some have seen degraded Netflix performance with certain Internet Service Providers (ISPs), and in light of disputes between Comcast and Netflix over terms of interconnection.

The following can be attributed to John Bergmayer, Senior Staff Attorney at Public Knowledge:

"No one on the outside knows what is happening in this market. However, it is clear that residential ISPs should be in the business of charging their users for access the Internet, not of charging the rest of the Internet for access to their users. This ensures that they are putting the needs of their users first.

"From what information is public, it appears that the largest ISPs are demanding payment from networks that deliver content and services that residential broadband consumers demand. Because the large residential ISPs themselves are the ones keeping the terms of their deals secret, it is raises the question of whether they have something to hide.

"One way to prevent competitive problems from arising, and to reduce the need for future regulation, is to prevent ISPs from holding other networks hostage. This raises concerns in light of the proposed Comcast/Time Warner Cable merger.

"What has characterized these traffic disputes has been their opacity. We call on the Federal Communications Commission, the Department of Justice, and interested members of Congress to ensure that the broadband market continues to meet the needs of its users, and allows companies like Netflix (and the next Netflix) to offer the services that users have demonstrated they want."

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