Netflix has long hoped that the days of DVDS appearing in people’s mailboxes would soon be over. It was a successful model, but streaming movies online to its customers is far more efficient and saves all those postage fees.

Comcast disagrees. It argues that Netflix is hogging up bandwidth, and it wants the company to pay an extra fee just to cover this cost. Netflix is outraged. Such a fee, it claims, would “threatens the open Internet,” and lead to the imposition of fees on content, depending on who the provider is. “With this action, Comcast demonstrates the risk of a ‘closed’ Internet, where a retail broadband Internet access provider decides whether and how their subscribers interact with content,” warns Thomas C. Stortz, Chief Legal Officer of Level 3, which helps to deliver Netflix films online.

Comcast rejects the charges entirely, and says that it is simply a business dispute. On the other hand, Comcast is under scrutiny by the FCC as it prepares to acquire NBC Universal. Some people have expressed concern that the company, which is the largest cable operator and home internet service provider in the U.S., would favor NBC content over its competitors’ products. In other words, it would be easier to watch Law and Order online than it would be to watch House or Glee.

The FCC is already looking into Comcast’s acquisition of NBC, and now Level 3 and Netflix say that they will ask federal regulators to eliminate the fee, which violates the principles of net neutrality. There is much more at stake in their ultimate decision than the fate of Netflix alone.
Read More at the Huffington Post.
Read More at the New York Times.