The American Cable Association, which represents small and midsized ISPs, came out strongly against Netflix's capping of bit rates for some wireless services, calling for the FCC to launch an inquiry into edge provider practices and saying it has Sec. 706 authority to do so.
"ACA has said all along that this Federal Communications Commission’s approach to Net Neutrality is horribly one-sided and unfair because it leaves consumers unprotected from the actions of edge providers that block and throttle lawful traffic," said ACA president Matt Polka.
"The FCC’s disclosure rules also fall short by covering ISPs but allowing edge providers to affect consumers’ Internet experience in the same ways that ISPs’ actions can. And now we see further evidence of these shortcomings in Netflix’s confession that it has been engaging in covert video throttling to select groups of consumers."
Netflix conceded this week it had not told AT&T and Verizon or its customers that it was limiting their bit-rates (and thus video quality) to keep them under usage caps.
"ACA is disappointed, but not surprised, that Netflix used its immunity from the FCC's Net Neutrality rules to engage in this practice," said Polka. "Netflix has the ability and incentive to engage in this anti-consumer behavior notwithstanding its impact on the virtual cycle that promotes the broadband deployment sustaining Netflix’s business mode." Polka was using the language the FCC has used in singling out ISPs as the gatekeepers and potential snakes in the virtuous Internet garden.
Polka also invoked Sec. 706 of the Communications Act, which the FCC has invoked to take a host of broadband-related actions from net neutrality rules to preempting state laws limiting broadband buildouts.
"In light of this revelation, ACA calls on the FCC to initiate a Notice of Inquiry into the practices of edge providers and how these companies can threaten the openness of the Internet. Under Section 706, the FCC has the authority to conduct such an inquiry and issue regulations, should it be deemed necessary," Polka said.
Broadcasting & Cable Newsletter
The smarter way to stay on top of broadcasting and cable industry. Sign up below
Contributing editor John Eggerton has been an editor and/or writer on media regulation, legislation and policy for over four decades, including covering the FCC, FTC, Congress, the major media trade associations, and the federal courts. In addition to Multichannel News and Broadcasting + Cable, his work has appeared in Radio World, TV Technology, TV Fax, This Week in Consumer Electronics, Variety and the Encyclopedia Britannica.