updated 05:27 pm EDT, Sat May 3, 2014
Meetings intended to try and hammer out differences between FCC, ISPs, Netflix
Netflix was reportedly in discussions with US Federal Communications Commission personnel this week, expressing deep concern to Chairman Tom Wheeler's poorly-received "net neutrality" proposal. Sources familiar with the matter allegedly met with the FCC to discuss the proposal several times over the course of the week, attempting to steer discourse on the matter to something closer to Netflix's idea of an open Internet, with equal treatment for everybody's traffic.
FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler's proposals for net neutrality allege to keep companies from downgrading Internet traffic in their own favor, but also opens up the opportunity for service providers (mostly cable companies) to charge extra for faster content delivery, codifying such deals as those penned by Netflix with Comcast and Verizon. The FCC is expected to brief companies on the information in the proposals, which have so far only been distributed internally.
Wheeler claims that the FCC will not tolerate actions by ISPs that "degrade the service for all for the benefit of a few," but it is unclear how this will be judged. The FCC chairman has declared that should the ISPs take unfair advantage of his proposal, that he would regulate the Internet as a utility, exposing ISPs to greater federal oversight in all aspects of their business.
Regarding Wheeler's "paid Internet express lane" proposal, Netflix chairman Reed Hastings retorted on Facebook that there were "tolls coming for the Web thanks to FCC. What is the FCC thinking?" He had previously decried deals that he was forced into by large ISPs throttling Netflix content, in order to maintain quality of service for his customers, though stopping just short of calling them blackmail.
FCC member Jessica Rosenworcel said of Wheeler's proposal that "we are going to have to take all that public commentary and take a hard look at it, take a hard look at the chairman's proposal and what the perception of that proposal is, and then also consider the admittedly difficult legal environment we are in and try to find a way forward."