Netflix is discriminating against its customers accuses Time Warner Cable

Time Warner Cable has accused Netflix of discriminatory behavior, unfairly limiting content to subscribers since it demands ISPs join its Open Connect delivery system before they get select 3D and Super HD movies. "While they call it 'Open Connect', Netflix is actually closing off access to some of its content while seeking unprecedented preferential treatment from ISPs" Time Warner Cable told Multichannel News, referring to the new high-bandwidth media types Netflix announced it would offer last week.

"We believe it is wrong for Netflix to withhold any content formats from our subscribers and the subscribers of many other ISPs" the ISP continued. "Time Warner Cable's network is more than capable of delivering this content to Netflix subscribers today."

The contention is around Netflix's insistance that, if ISPs want to serve up its more bandwidth-demanding content like higher-resolution Super HD or 3D, they need to also opt into the (free) Open Connect scheme. That puts a direct pipe between Netflix and ISP, by co-locating a caching server – storing copies of the most frequently-viewed media – on site with the ISP's own hardware.

Such a scheme saves Netflix on bandwidth costs. Super HD content, for instance, requires a 5Mbps connection; a current list of Open Connect-participating ISPs is here.

"Open Connect provides Netflix data at no cost to the location the ISP desires and doesn't seek preferential treatment" CCO Jonathan Friedland told We hope TimeWarner will join the many major ISPs around the world who are participating in Open Connect to reduce costs, minimize congestion and improve data delivery to enhance the consumer experience."

It's uncertain whether the ISP will settle for complaining about Netflix's policies, or if there's a lawsuit in the offing.

[via GigaOm]