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Posted at 3:55 PM ET, 12/13/2010

Netflix, Amazon, Skype say draft FCC rules weak, unacceptable

By Cecilia Kang

Netflix, Skype and Amazon were among Internet giants lobbying the Federal Communications Commission in recent days, explaining how companies like them have much to lose if the agency doesn't beef up its draft of net neutrality rules.

The companies met last Thursday with Democratic Commissioner Michael J. Copps, who has expressed skepticism of FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski's proposal for how Internet access providers treat content on their networks.

"At the outset of the meeting, the participants expressed their unanimous unwillingness to
support the proposed open Internet framework in its present form as they understand it," according to a filing by public interest groups Public Knowledge and Media Access Project, which joined the Web firms. They said they want to work with the FCC on changes that would better protect Web firms and consumers.

Specifically, the Web giants and public interest groups called for stronger rules that prohibit blocking and slowing of wireless applications. They also called for the FCC to redefine broadband as a telecom service, more firmly under its jurisdiction.

Netflix, one of the biggest threats to traditional media and cable companies, was represented by new counsel, Michael Drobac. The Silicon Valley online video streaming giant -- which last week entered the S&P 500 -- has kept a low profile on the debate of network neutrality but reiterated its stance that the FCC should prohibit Internet service providers from charging firms to access for faster lanes on the Internet.

Analysts say Netflix, Apple TV, and Hulu could be threatened by usage-based caps blessed by Genachowski and by what is known as paid prioritization because Internet service providers such as Comcast or Time Warner Cable could make it difficult for consumers to cut their basic cable services by making the quality of video from competitors on the Internet worse or more expensive.

"ISP’s will be in a position to exploit their dominant position and favor their own content and services, or those of select paying partners," the groups said. "Thus, paid prioritization must be identified as an unjust and unreasonable form of discrimination."

Related stories:
FCC net neutrality proposal opens door to fast lanes for a fee, higher consumer prices

Netflix moves beyond DVDs, tangles with ISPs on net neutrality

By Cecilia Kang  | December 13, 2010; 3:55 PM ET
Categories:  Apple, Comcast, FCC, Net Neutrality  
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Comments

Cecilia Kang, Google's Reporter and Lobbyist at The Post, again trumpets the corporate agenda of Google and provides no counterpoint. Why hasn't The Post fired her yet for blatant bias in favor of an advertiser?

Posted by: LBrettGlass | December 13, 2010 6:41 PM | Report abuse

FCC--It's Comcastic!

Posted by: gmeagher | December 13, 2010 7:20 PM | Report abuse

I look forward to hearing future FCC Chair Meredith Baker's comments and vote on Geni's net neutering effort...

Uncle Sam

Posted by: UncleSam2 | December 13, 2010 8:15 PM | Report abuse

Free the internet - Keep the internet free!

These internet giants called for the FCC to redefine broadband as a telecom service, more firmly under its jurisdiction.

Broadband is hardware - routing - directing, it is not a telecom service and does not belong under FCC jurisdiction. The government wants to regulate and censor the web in violation of our free speech and our constitutional rights.

Posted by: alance | December 13, 2010 8:53 PM | Report abuse

alance says "Broadband is hardware - routing - directing, it is not a telecom service..." The old fashioned wireline telephone service is also hardware — copper wire pairs, switching centers, etc. So POTS must also, by alance's definition, not be a telecom service. Looks like the FCC has had it wrong all these years.

Since many broadband providers, ISPs, have a semi or full monopoly situation, leaving them unregulated offers possibilities for all kinds of abuse, and history has taught us that when a company with monopolistic power can abuse in search of greater profit, it will abuse, unless there is some controlling entity to hold it back.

Lord Acton's 1887 observation predicted as much: "Power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely."

Posted by: ferd666 | December 14, 2010 1:03 AM | Report abuse

The FCC already lost one round in the courts with Comcast when Comcast was caught using Sandvine to disconnect their users by packet termination flags and the Congress, generally bought off by big media allowed it to happen. Comcast built out a network they don't want to enlarge to support the bandwidth they sold and tier usage caps came into being.

Next we have Comcast trying to charge Level3 for bandwidth delivery of movies from Netflix that Comcast's own subscribers asked to see (not on Comcast's cable service, obviously).

Comcast, Time Warner Cable, Verizon, all ISP's and all involved in media will surely prioritize their own materials on their neworks if left unsupervised.

The public interest will not be served unless ISP's are more closely regulated. Online delivery is the future and they will price it out of the average person's ability to pay left to their own desires, namely their greed.

Comcast and Time Warner see their own products being left by the wayside *cable* in the new digital movie delivery methods of Amazon and Netflix. They would dearly love to throttle both companies and will do so if not closely monitored.

The increases to date in cable costs to users will pale in comparison to the increases in tiered usage fees by bandwidth caps on the broadband side of their enterprises.

The freedom to legally watch what you want to watch, when you want to watch it and from whom are under attack here.

We must always remember that cable companies network builds were subsidzed by the government to a great degree. They must be held to the promise to serve the public good. One begins to wonder if they understand the term.

Between the cable companies and the Movie Studios themselves, unable or unwilling to face the changes in their markets today, they attack the modern delivery methods on the net like rabid dogs.

Pricing the net out of the reach of the average consumer is bad for the consumer, the FCC is *supposed* to protect the consumer. They seem to have forgotten that fact.

Most of our country does not have true broadband except in the large cities, satellite delivery is expensive and the economy is bad.

A couple of companies have seen the future in delivery of inexpensive movie products to the consumer and the ISP's are frothing at the mouth, but the worst complaints come from the media connected (Time Warner who owns a movie studio and Comcast who is trying to). Netflix already has more subscribers then Time Warner and are gaining fast on Comcast's numbers.

The FCC needs to protect the consumer and not allow ISP's to gouge the consumer by implementing tiered usage bandwidth caps. In my mind, that means regulation is required to protect the consumer.


Posted by: fiamma | December 14, 2010 3:30 AM | Report abuse

Does anyone doubt that at the end of the day, the bottom line is that consumers will be asked to pay MORE for internet access, in a tiered pricing plan. Poor folks will have basic email and web page surfing while richer folks can stream video at near HD quality. So much for the original purpose of “net neutrality”. All bits will be treated equally, but you’ll have to pay more based on the amount of data you consume. Welcome to the real world 2011. TANSTAAFL. If you want the telecom giants to invest in fatter and faster infrastructure, you’ll have to pay for it. How sad that Obama didn’t make wiring the entire country with fiber optic cable (or at least comprehensive backbones) part of the stimulus package. Even some Republicans would have supported that.

Posted by: moonwatcher2001 | December 14, 2010 11:02 AM | Report abuse

fiamma- so true!

Posted by: Hattrik | December 14, 2010 3:04 PM | Report abuse

In Los Angeles today one of the stories on the financial blogs was the announcement of Time Warners SECOND price increase of the year.

Not only do all the rates go up so do tech calls, installation fees for digital telephone or internet up 65% , equipment pick up fees up 50%, DVR box rental up 1.00, cable box rental up 1.00 and on it goes.

Basic cable will be 63.00 per month.

An aside, their cable customer base dropped by 155,000 users while phone and internet users increased in the last quarter.

Barring net neutrality and supervision the Internet users will be paying through the nose so that Time Warner can pay those exorbitant salaries and keep the fat cat shareholders happy.

Merry Christmas.

Posted by: fiamma | December 14, 2010 3:42 PM | Report abuse

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