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Ted Sarandos: Repeal of Net Neutrality Would Hurt Netflix Competitors

4 Dec, 2017 By: Erik Gruenwedel

Ted Sarandos

When the Federal Communications Commission in 2015 under the Obama Administration voted to regulate the Internet as a utility service, Netflix was one of net neutrality’s biggest cheerleaders.

With the politically revamped FCC in the current Trump Administration poised (on Dec. 14) to roll back safeguards affording streaming services equal access to the Web, Netflix CCO Ted Sarandos believes changes to the law would largely hurt its upstart competitors.

It was just three years ago that Netflix co-founder Reed Hastings — in a series of public blogs — criticized major Internet Service Providers (notably Comcast) for jacking up fees for broadband interconnection. Hastings — who forwarded his complaints to the FCC and Obama — blasted ISPs for affecting video stream quality based on an OTT video service’s wiliness to pay.

“The big ISPs can make these demands — driving up costs and prices for everyone else — because of their market position,” Hastings wrote.

Fast-forward to the present and Netflix is now a must-have video service for most ISPs. Indeed, Comcast last year heralded — with much fanfare — direct access to Netflix for the cabler’s subscribers.

Netflix CCO Ted Sarandos Dec. 4 told an investor group the streaming video behemoth still believes in net neutrality — but not for its bottom line. He said Netflix has long-term streaming bandwidth agreements with about 90% of its ISPs, and any change to the law wouldn’t impact its subscribers’ streaming quality.

“It doesn't affect us commercially, but we are for [net neutrality] because it does affect innovation,” Sarandos said.

Instead, the executive said roll back of Title II of the Telecommunications Act of 1934 would stifle innovation for future Netflix competitors unable to fund access to faster streaming channels.

Indeed, current net neutrality guidelines do not prohibit ISPs from charging more for smoother streaming. They do prohibit ISPs from throttling or blocking OTT video competitors.

“Now it sounds like this is something we should be dancing about,” Sarandos said. “But all that … innovation is good for consumers, and it's good for us, and that's why we support [net neutrality] and have locally supported it from the beginning.”

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