Netflix says paying SK Broadband over Squid Game surge creates ‘anti-competitive environment’

Netflix has rebuffed demands from SK Broadband to pay data usage fees over a surge in traffic caused by the success of its series Squid Game.

The Korean telco earlier this month sued Netflix over an unprecedented surge in traffic that has put an undue strain on its network. The South Korean thriller has become Netflix’s biggest ever series at launch, and was watched by 142 million Netflix households during its first four weeks of availability. 

The ISP had estimated the network usage fee for Netflix at KR27.2 billion (€19.8 million) for 2020. The total would amount to more than 6% of Netflix’s revenue in South Korea for the year.

However, in a new interview with Bloomberg, Netflix’s vice president of public policy Dean Garfield has said that network usage fees create “an unfair, anti-competitive environment” that “potentially limit the ability of Korean customers to get exactly what they want if the price becomes so prohibitive that services like us are just unable to afford it.”

The spokesperson also said that this would set a precedent for other ISPs internationally: “There is no doubt the risk that network operators will see what happen in Korea and will try to replicate it because it serves their interest.”

A spokesperson for SK Broadband meanwhile has doubled down on its claims, adding: “Internet network is not for free. Not only individuals, but also public institutions, government agencies and universities pay for using the Internet network.”

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