FCC Looks Into Netflix Congestion

The agency will demand company documents on interconnection disputes.

Actor Kevin Spacey as Rep. Frank Underwood in the show House of Cards.
National Journal
Brendan Sasso
June 13, 2014, 8:42 a.m.

The Fed­er­al Com­mu­nic­a­tions Com­mis­sion is look­ing in­to re­cent dis­putes that Net­flix claims have de­graded its video qual­ity.

FCC Chair­man Tom Wheel­er an­nounced Fri­day that he will re­quest in­tern­al com­pany doc­u­ments to learn more about the dis­putes over net­work in­ter­con­nec­tion and de­cide wheth­er reg­u­la­tions are ne­ces­sary. The agency has already ob­tained the con­tracts that Net­flix struck with Com­cast and Ve­r­i­zon.

“Con­sumers must get what they pay for,” Wheel­er said. “As the con­sumer’s rep­res­ent­at­ive we need to know what is go­ing on.”

The ac­tion fol­lows calls from Net­flix for the FCC to in­ter­vene in the area and comes as the FCC is un­der fire from act­iv­ists and con­sumer groups for ad­van­cing net-neut­ral­ity rules that they be­lieve are too weak to pro­tect on­line free­dom.

Wheel­er em­phas­ized that the dis­putes over in­ter­con­nec­tion are sep­ar­ate from the agency’s net-neut­ral­ity pro­pos­al.

Net neut­ral­ity con­trols only how In­ter­net ser­vice pro­viders must handle traffic once it’s on their net­works. But the re­cent fights between Net­flix and the In­ter­net ser­vice pro­viders are over how net­works con­nect to each oth­er.

For years, web­sites have hired third parties to de­liv­er their con­tent to In­ter­net pro­viders, which carry the data to con­sumers’ homes. Re­cently, be­cause of the massive amount of data that Net­flix is de­liv­er­ing to its sub­scribers, the com­pany has been by­passing those third parties and con­nect­ing dir­ectly to the pro­viders’ net­works. Those dir­ect con­nec­tions en­sure that Net­flix videos stream as smoothly as pos­sible.

But Com­cast and Ve­r­i­zon have de­man­ded that Net­flix pay for dir­ect ac­cess to their net­works. If Net­flix doesn’t pay up, videos be­come grainy and take longer to load.

Net­flix has claimed that the pro­viders are vi­ol­at­ing the prin­ciple of net neut­ral­ity by try­ing to ex­tract “tolls.” The com­pany has urged the FCC to im­pose rules re­quir­ing that In­ter­net pro­viders al­low web­sites to con­nect to their net­works for free.

But the pro­viders ar­gue that they have to up­grade their net­works to handle Net­flix traffic and that by de­mand­ing free con­nec­tions, Net­flix is try­ing to force all In­ter­net users to pay for its traffic.

Al­though the Net­flix fights promp­ted the probe, Wheel­er said the agency will re­view doc­u­ments across the in­dustry.

“To be clear, what we are do­ing right now is col­lect­ing in­form­a­tion, not reg­u­lat­ing,” he said. “We are look­ing un­der the hood. Con­sumers want trans­par­ency. They want an­swers. And so do I.”

What We're Following See More »
FOLLOWED CLOSED DOOR MEETING
Peña Nieto, Trump Trade Subtle Jabs in Statements
9 hours ago
THE DETAILS

Following their meeting, President Enrique Peña Nieto of Mexico and Republican nominee for president, Donald Trump, briefly addressed the media, with Peña Nieto subtly rebuking Trump's rhetoric. While he spoke respectfully about Trump, Peña Nieto did not back down, saying that free trade has proved effective and that illegal immigration into America from the south has decreased over the last ten years while the flow of people and drugs into Mexico has increased. Additionally, he stressed that Mexicans in America are "honest" and "deserve respect." Trump responded, calling some Mexicans "tremendous people" while saying others are "beyond reproach." Trump laid out five important issues, including the end of illegal immigration and the ability for either country to build a wall or border. However, Trump said he did not discuss who would pay for the wall.

LOWER COURT RULING STANDS
SCOTUS Won’t Restore NC Voter ID Law
9 hours ago
THE LATEST

A divided Supreme Court "refused Wednesday to reinstate North Carolina’s voter identification requirement and keep just 10 days of early in-person voting. The court rejected a request by Gov. Pat McCrory and other state officials to delay a lower court ruling that found the state law was tainted by racial discrimination."

Source:
SMOKIN’ AND SHOOTIN’
Court: 2nd Amendment Doesn’t Protect Pot Users’ Gun Rights
10 hours ago
THE DETAILS
THE QUESTION
How Many Offices Does Trump Have in Battleground States?
15 hours ago
THE ANSWER

Eighty-eight, according to PBS. Hillary Clinton, meanwhile, has 291 offices in those same 15 states.

Source:
BUT HE’S NOT ADVOCATING FOR IT
Grassley Open to Lame Duck Hearings on Garland
1 days ago
THE LATEST

Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley (R-IA) said Monday he'd now be willing to hold a hearing on Supreme Court nominee Merrick Garland in a lame-duck session of Congress. While he said he wouldn't push for it, he said if "Hillary Clinton wins the White House, and a majority of senators convinced him to do so," he would soften his previous opposition.

Source:
×