Netflix's Love Of Net Neutrality Notably Absent In Australia, Where It's Striking Cap Exempt Deals With ISPs
from the he-just-smiled-and-gave-me-a-vegemite-sandwich dept
Here in the States, Netflix has been an incredibly vocal supporter of net neutrality, arguing that all traffic should consistently be treated equally by incumbent ISP gatekeepers. The company has also frequently lambasted usage caps, arguing that they’re not a very effective business model, and are basically used by incumbent ISPs to protect traditional TV revenues from internet video. One Netflix exec at one point called caps “almost a human rights violation.” A few years ago, Netflix CEO Reed Hastings similarly lambasted Comcast on Facebook for exempting its content from usage caps on some devices:
“Comcast no longer following net neutrality principles. Comcast should apply caps equally, or not at all. I spent the weekend enjoying four good internet video apps on my Xbox: Netflix, HBO GO, Xfinity, and Hulu. When I watch video on my Xbox from three of these four apps, it counts against my Comcast internet cap. When I watch through Comcast?s Xfinity app, however, it does not count against my Comcast internet cap…The same device, the same IP address, the same wifi, the same internet connection, but totally different cap treatment. In what way is this neutral?”
Oddly, Netflix’s position on this issue seems to differ depending on the hemisphere. In Australia, Netflix is taking a notably different stance. The company has struck a new deal with Australian broadband ISP iiNET that exempts all Netflix content from the company’s usage caps when the service goes live on March 24:
“Following confirmation from Netflix that it will launch locally on 24 March, iiNet?s broadband, Naked DSL, NBN and iiNet TV with Fetch customers will have access to as much Netflix content as they like, without it counting against their monthly quota….Paul Perryman, Netflix?s Director of Business Development, said the iiNet partnership will play an important role in the launch of the Netflix service Down Under. “Working with iiNet to offer quota-free Netflix content gives more people the opportunity to familiarise themselves with who we are and what our service offers,” said Paul.”
While iiNet’s position on copyright trolls is consumer friendly, their usage caps are certainly less so. iiNet service features usage caps starting at 100 GB, and users that exceed their allotment often face overage fees of around fifty cents for each additional gigabyte. According to Netflix, HD service consumes around 7 GB per hour. Content streamed in the 4K format consumes significantly more. Reed Hastings’ concerns about cap-exemption being a notably unfair policy are seemingly absent from press coverage from the launch.
Australian broadband ISPs managed to get consumers used to usage limits much earlier in broadband’s lifecycle there. As a result, metered usage is generally all they’ve known, so you’ll tend to see slightly less public opposition when compared to markets where consumers got used to unlimited, flat-rate data. It’s also worth noting that other streaming services (like ABC’s iView or Foxtel’s Presto) are already cap-exempt, so Netflix feels it too must be cap-exempt if it wants to enter the market on equal footing. Still, it’s odd to see Netflix — a hugely vocal net neutrality supporter — suddenly go mute on a subject that’s so near and dear to its heart. You’d like to think Netflix may become more outspoken on the subject once its service — and the concept of net neutrality — gains a foothold down under.