Netflix CEO Reed Hastings took to his company's blog Thursday to call for Washington and the Federal Communications Commission to pass stronger net neutrality rules so that Netflix doesn't have to keep paying "Internet tolls" to powerful ISPs to deliver its content to consumers, like its recent deal with Comcast.
In February, Netflix, the video service that sucks up a third of the Internet traffic in prime time, agreed to pay Comcast for direct access to its network servers to help unclog the logjam Comcast had in delivering Netflix content to its subscribers.
Though both sides at the time praised the deal as mutually beneficial, Hastings obviously isn't happy about it, calling it an "arbitrary tax" whether it’s a fee paid to Comcast or intermediaries such as Cogent or Level 3.
In his blog post, Hastings singled out Cablevision for practicing strong net neutrality, compared to Comcast which he said has been "an industry leader in supporting weak net neutrality."
"Without strong net neutrality, big ISPs can demand potentially escalating fees for the interconnection required to deliver high quality service. The big ISPs can make these demands, driving up costs and prices for everyone else, because of their market position," Hastings wrote.
Comcast, which is hoping to win approval from regulators to buy Time Warner Cable, disagreed with Hastings.
"There has been no company that has had a stronger commitment to openness of the Internet than Comcast," said David Cohen, Comcast's evp." We supported the FCC’s Open Internet rules because they struck the appropriate balance between consumer protection and reasonable network management rights for ISPs. We are now the only ISP in the country that is bound by them."
Cohen also disagreed that open Internet rules should apply to peering, the arrangements between Internet services like Netflix and intermediaries like Cogent.
“The Open Internet rules never were designed to deal with peering and Internet interconnection, which have been an essential part of the growth of the Internet for two decades. Providers like Netflix have always paid for their interconnection to the Internet and have always had ample options to ensure that their customers receive an optimal performance through all ISPs at a fair price. We are happy that Comcast and Netflix were able to reach an amicable, market-based solution to our interconnection issues and believe that our agreement demonstrates the effectiveness of the market as a mechanism to deal with these matters,” Cohen said.