By James DeRuvo (doddleNEWS)
As Netflix continues its global march by announcing streaming service to Australia and New Zealand, one site thinks that they have abandoned their principled and high profile stance on Net Neutrality. Could it be that Reed Hastings has decided that “if you can’t beat em, join em?” And if so, what does that say about the latest FCC adoption of Net Neutrality rules?
Netflix announced yesterday that it would be coming to Australia and New Zealand on March 24th, and within the first 200 words, the company abandoned its principled stand on net neutrality. – TC Sottek, The Verge
Back in 2014, as it reversed course and decided to pay Comcast, AT&T, and other ISPs protection money in order to get a preferred fast lane for streaming to their internet customers, Reed Hastings penned a manifesto complaining about how, without the adoption of strong Net Neutrality laws, the development of internet streaming video was in jeopardy.
“Netflix believes strong net neutrality is critical,” Hastings wrote on his blog, “but in the near term we will in cases pay the toll to the powerful ISPs to protect our consumer experience. When we do so, we don’t pay for priority access against competitors, just for interconnection.” Hastings went on to say that strong net neutrality would prevent ISPs from charging the very tolls that he then turned around and paid to prevent buffering and get a preferred fast lane.
But TC Sottek at The Verge seems to think that while Netflix lobbied the FCC hard to change course on Net Neutrality, that behind-the-scenes Hastings has largely abandoned his position on the matter, and the announcement earlier this week, shows it. In their announcement that the streaming service was expanding into Australia and New Zealand, Netflix reported that they had entered into a special deal with Australian ISP iiNet to exempt its traffic from bandwidth caps, and avoid buffering that usually comes along with it.
This means that Netflix will have a favored lane for ISPs, one that flies in the very face of the values of Net Neutrality that Hastings has decreed he believes in, when he declared that ISPs should “should apply caps equally, or not at all.” And in a Facebook post that Hastings wrote last year, he complained that Comcast was getting the very same treatment with XFinity that he was arranging for Netflix.
Gee, hypocrisy much? But then again, if you want to expand, sometimes you have to do what you have to do. For Hastings, paying the piper may be the way in to a lucrative market Down Under. In the press release, Netflix’ Director of business development Paul Perryman justified the move, saying, “Working with iiNet to offer quota-free Netflix content gives more people in the country the opportunity to familiarize themselves with who we are and what our service offers.” It could be that by getting their foot in the door, Netflix hopes to change the Australian landscape from the inside out. And Netflix went on to say that while they still support Net Neutrality, the customer streaming experience is their top priority.
Can’t blame them for wanting to expand and do it as painlessly as possible, and they do have a point about trying to change the argument from within the system, but it sure looks bad, doesn’t it?