Netflix: Comcast-Time Warner merger puts basic principle of net at risk

netflix Bedroom_Device_shot1-0043_V_Final_0000_L_play_onb2Netflix has called on the US FCC to veto Comcast’s merger with Time Warner Cable. In a petition to the FCC’s media bureau chief William Lake, the streaming video provider argued that the “proposed merger puts at risk the end-to-end principle that has characterised the internet and been a key driver in the creation of the most important communications platform in history”. 

According to Netflix, the merger of the two US cable giant would “set up an ecosystem that calls into question what we to date have taken for granted: that a consumer who pays for connectivity to the internet will be able to get the content she requests”, and that the merger would turn US consumers’ internet experience into “something that more closely resembles cable television”.

Unsurprisingly, Netflix’s petition highlights the issue of access fees charged at interconnection points and their ability to harm internet companies. It said that the merger would give the two cable companies a dominant share of the high-speed broadband market at a time when broadband customers “increasingly engage with more content-rich applications that require high-speed broadband to work properly, such as internet-delivered video”.

Netflix compared the current merger proposal with that of AT&T and MediaOne a decade and a half ago, when the US government required the divestment of their respective broadband arms Excite@Home and RoadRunner, as a condition for approval.

Netflix said that Comcast and Time Warner together would have the ability to harm online video companies that they viewed as rivals to their own video services.