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Netflix Hires Canadian Lobbyists

23 Feb, 2011 By: Erik Gruenwedel

Whether it’s Capital Hill or a foreign country (Canada), it helps to have lobbyists familiar with the playing field when dealing with political and regulatory issues.

Thus, Netflix reportedly has hired two former officials with Canada’s department in charge of overseeing the country’s telecommunications industry. Leonard St-Aubin and Jan Skora have been hired to help Netflix navigate the increasingly contentious issue of Internet-usage billing, according to Bloomberg News.

Netflix also retained two prominent Toronto-based competition lawyers.

When Netflix launched a streaming-only service in Canada last summer, Rogers Communications, one of the country’s largest Internet service providers, began lowering data limits subscribers could use per month without paying a premium.

Last month the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission approved initiatives by cable operators and telecommunication companies to charge subscribers extra when they exceed (download) more than select monthly data limits — typically from 20GB to 60GB.

An online report recently found that streaming more than 13.65 hours of Netflix programming per month would exceed the limit and could result in additional charges.

During Netflix’s Jan. 26 fiscal call, CEO Reed Hastings said the data limits imposed in Canada and other countries represented significant challenges going forward. He said efforts to implement so-called “pay-per-gigabyte” in the United States would be met accordingly.

Indeed, U.S. telecommunication operators, including AT&T and Verizon, have recently implemented similar monthly data plans for mobile devices.

“We will be involved in that debate,” Hastings said. “We don’t expect it to happen, but we won’t be asleep at the wheel and let it happen, either.”


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