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Stop Comcast from blocking Netflix

01 Dec

It’s as brazen as it is outrageous. At the very same time that the FCC is deliberating the fate of our open Internet, cable giant Comcast threatened to block Netflix from delivering streaming movies to Comcast’s own broadband customers.

Without strong net neutrality rules, companies like Comcast can demand fees from innovative companies like Netflix in an attempt to choke consumer freedom and coerce users to adopt its own video services instead.

Tell the FCC: Don’t let Comcast block Netflix. Support the strong net neutrality protections President Obama promised during his campaign.

Comcast only relented after it was able to extort a fee from the company that supports Netflix’s movie streaming service, Level 3. According to the AP, 3 asserts “the fee violates the principles of an ‘open Internet.’ It also goes against the Federal Communications Commission‘s proposed rules preventing broadband Internet providers from favoring certain types of traffic.” 1

It’s a critical time to speak out about this. After stalling for months, the FCC is poised to exercise its power and issue net neutrality regulations at a meeting scheduled for December 21. We expect FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski to release his draft plan for protecting an open Internet in advance of that meeting — as early as this week.

There is only one Internet, and consumers should be allowed to access any legal website, service or application on any device of their choosing (whether they’re accessing the Internet wirelessly or not). Furthermore, broadband providers cannot be allowed to employ paid prioritization schemes to give favored network access to some websites or services over others. And finally, the rules must define the terms in a way that avoids the huge loopholes favored by industry and rests on sufficient legal basis.

Tell the FCC: The big cable companies and telecoms will destroy our open Internet if you do not regulate strong net neutrality protections.

Clearly the big telecom and cable companies feel confident that the FCC will bend to their will, rather than protect consumers and preserve our open Internet. What makes Comcast’s behavior even more outrageous is that in addition to the FCC’s pending decision on net neutrality, it also must rule on Comcast’s bid to buy NBC. Without tough and binding FCC rules, will Comcast ensure that NBC content is available online to its subscribers, but video streams from other channels download at a slower rate or not at all?

This is about more than getting movies via Netflix instead of Comcast. It’s about the ability of media monopolies to decide what information we can access via the Internet. Will Fox News stories be carried in the fast lane while Democracy Now! is relegated to slow lane or perhaps blocked altogether?

 President Obama campaigned on a platform that included strong net neutrality provisions. It’s time for his FCC to deliver.

1 “Web delivery firm says Comcast taking toll on data,” Associated Press, November 29, 2010.

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