Netflix declares war on data caps, wants FCC to chime in

JC Torres - Sep 13, 2016, 5:00 am CDT
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Netflix declares war on data caps, wants FCC to chime in

It’s that time of year again for the US Federal Communications Commission, lovingly called the FCC. It’s that time when it is legally mandated to examine the state of broadband deployment in the country, which also means it will be in the crosshairs of ISPs, and vice versa. Netflix, not an ISP, is taking that opportunity to convince the FCC to declare, once and for all, that home Internet data caps are unreasonable, and sometimes even discriminatory. Such a statement, though not completely legally binding, could ISPs to make some adjustments to align Netflix’s point of view.

It’s not really surprising that Netflix would make such a strong push. Data caps are its biggest enemies, maybe even bigger than proxies or even pirates. Data caps, whether on mobile data or home broadband, severely limit how much users can watch from Netflix, which, in turn, affects Netflix’s overall business.

But Netflix’s position may have some reasonable grounds too. Not exactly new, the business around data caps have come into much scrutiny of late, as the meteoric rise rate of Internet usage. Netflix says that the data caps imposed by ISPs today are far too low and unrealistic compared to the average usage noted in studies, even those conducted by the FCC itself. According to the video streaming giant 300 GB of monthly data, which is the average data cap, is just enough for streaming, but doesn’t account other non-streaming uses, like browsing.

Netflix also tries to argue that data caps are redundant as well as discriminatory. Some ISPs have tiers that put a cap on speed, but those are also capped by data volume. And in some cases, ISPs might offer certain service providers an unfair advantage by not counting their use against the subscriber’s cap. For a price, of course.

Naturally, cable companies would have none of that. They say that while they are open to discussions about data caps, they insist that the annual broadband deployment investigation is not the proper venue for that. Instead, they would rather have it in other FCC reports. That said, unlike the broadband deployment report that is mandated by Section 706 of the Telecommunications Act, those reports won’t have the legal teeth to force ISPs into action.

VIA: Ars Technica


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