Netflix 2013 Lobbying Goals: Net Neutrality, Bandwidth Caps28 Dec, 2012 By: Erik Gruenwedel
With passage of an amended Video Privacy Protection Act awaiting President Obama’s signature, Netflix reportedly will focus lobbying efforts in 2013 upholding existing net neutrality laws and fighting possible bandwidth caps.
When Netflix earlier this year formed its own political action committee, FLIXPAC, the PAC’s stated goals included VPPA, bandwidth caps and net neutrality, among other issues not involving controversial SOPA (Stop Online Piracy Act) and PIPA (Protect IP Act).
After spending more than $1 million, according to TheHill.com, on lobbying efforts throughout the past two years aimed at amending VPPA, scuttlebutt suggests Netflix will focus on net neutrality and bandwidth caps — two issues it sees as broader affronts to its subscription video-on-demand hierarchy.
Netflix CEO Reed Hastings last April fired a shot across the bow when he blogged his displeasure with allegations that streaming Netflix video through his Comcast cable ISP required higher data usage than Comcast’s own Xfinity Streampix SVOD service.
Hastings has been critical of what he perceives is a conflict of interest by ISPs maintaining inordinate control of the “last mile” of broadband connectivity into consumers’ homes while at the same time launching competing video services.
Those allegations have prompted the Federal Communications Commission to take a closer look.
Regardless, Comcast, Verizon and other ISPs have grown increasingly concerned with the percentage of peak Internet traffic attributed to Netflix. The SVOD pioneer in November registered nearly 29% of peak Internet traffic in the United States — more than double the peak traffic of runner-up YouTube with 13.1%, according to Sandvine.
Indeed, the average North American Internet user consumes 659MB of data per month on mobile devices and 51GB of data per month via landline. With Netflix accounting for a chunk of that data, competitors will look at any means of slowing the SVOD leader.