March 20 Netflix Inc Chief Executive
Reed Hastings on Thursday said internet service providers should
give content companies adequate network connections for free,
and singled out Comcast Corp for supporting "weak"
internet traffic rules.
In February, Netflix struck a deal to pay Comcast for faster
online delivery of its movies and TV shows through a practice
known as interconnection, after customers complained about slow
Hastings called interconnection fees an "arbitrary tax" that
the company would pay in certain cases to protect its customers'
"Instead, they must provide sufficient access to their
network without charge," Hastings wrote on the Netflix blog.
He said free interconnection was key to ensuring "net
neutrality," which requires that internet providers treat data
from different content companies equally.
Comcast is seeking approval from U.S. regulators for its
proposed $45.2 billion purchase of Time Warner Cable Inc
. Treatment of internet traffic is one issue expected to
receive scrutiny during the government's review.
Hastings said Comcast "has been an industry leader in
supporting weak net neutrality, and we hope they'll support
strong net neutrality as well."
Comcast, in a statement from executive vice president David
Cohen, said no other company had a "stronger commitment to
openness of the Internet."
The company is the only broadband provider currently bound
by the government's net neutrality, or "Open Internet," rules.
An appeals court struck down the rules in January, but Comcast
committed to following them under an agreement with the
government when it purchased NBC Universal.
Cohen said those rules were not meant to cover
interconnection arrangements. He added that providers like
Netflix had always paid for interconnection and had "ample
options" to ensure that customers enjoyed optimal performance at
a fair price.
(Reporting by Lisa Richwine; Editing by Stephen Coates)