AT&T: ‘Arrogant’ Netflix Wants a Free Lunch

The telecom company fires back over a push for new federal rules.

Actor Kevin Spacey as Rep. Frank Underwood in the show House of Cards.
National Journal
Brendan Sasso
Add to Briefcase
See more stories about...
Brendan Sasso
March 21, 2014, 2:17 p.m.

Net­flix is try­ing to shift the cost of its ser­vice on to all In­ter­net sub­scribers, AT&T claimed on Fri­day.

“As we all know, there is no free lunch, and there’s also no cost-free de­liv­ery of stream­ing movies. Someone has to pay that cost,” Jim Cic­coni, a seni­or ex­ec­ut­ive vice pres­id­ent for AT&T, wrote in a blog post.

Cic­coni is fir­ing back over Net­flix’s blog post from Thursday in which the on­line video site called for new fed­er­al rules to en­sure it can con­nect to In­ter­net pro­viders for free.

Net­flix CEO Reed Hast­ings warned that without gov­ern­ment in­ter­ven­tion, In­ter­net pro­viders could ex­tort pay­ments out of web­sites, ul­ti­mately strangling com­pet­i­tion and growth on­line.

Last month, Net­flix agreed to pay for dir­ect ac­cess to Com­cast’s net­work. The agree­ment en­sured smooth­er movie stream­ing for Net­flix’s Com­cast sub­scribers, but it was the first time the video site had ever had to pay for such a dir­ect con­nec­tion deal.

AT&T and Ve­r­i­zon have now said they are try­ing to broker sim­il­ar agree­ments with Net­flix, which ac­counts for about 30 per­cent of all In­ter­net traffic. In his blog post, Hast­ings urged the Fed­er­al Com­mu­nic­a­tions Com­mis­sion to en­act new net-neut­ral­ity rules that bar In­ter­net pro­viders from “char­ging a toll” for in­ter­con­nec­tion deals.

“The es­sence of net neut­ral­ity is that [In­ter­net ser­vice pro­viders] such as AT&T and Com­cast don’t re­strict, in­flu­ence or oth­er­wise meddle with the choices con­sumers make,” he said.

But AT&T’s Cic­coni ar­gued that broad­band com­pan­ies have to in­vest huge sums of money to in­crease the ca­pa­city of their net­works to meet the heavy de­mand of Net­flix users.

Net­flix is es­sen­tially ask­ing for all In­ter­net cus­tom­ers to bear the cost of up­grad­ing net­works for just its users, Cic­coni ar­gued.

“Mr. Hast­ings’ ar­rog­ant pro­pos­i­tion is that every­one else should pay but Net­flix,” he wrote. “That may be a nice deal if he can get it. But it’s not how the In­ter­net, or tele­com­mu­nic­a­tion for that mat­ter, has ever worked.”

What We're Following See More »
REPEATS CONTROVERSIAL CLAIM
Trump: Clinton “Doesn’t Have The Stamina” to be President
7 hours ago
DEBATE UPDATE

At the end of the debate, moderator Lester Holt asked Donald Trump if he stands by his statement that Hillary Clinton didn't have the look of a president. Trump responded by saying Holt misquoted him, instead saying that Clinton "doesn't have the stamina." Clinton responded by saying that when Trump visits 112 countries as secretary of state, he can talk to her about stamina.

WIDELY DEBUNKED CLAIM
Trump: Clinton Camp Started Birtherism
8 hours ago
DEBATE UPDATE

Donald Trump, when pressed by Lester Holt on why he finally admitted that President Obama was born in America, repeated his widely debunked claim that it was started by Hillary Clinton.

“AFRICAN AMERICANS” ARE “LIVING IN HELL”
Conversation Shifts to Race
8 hours ago
DEBATE UPDATE

Hillary Clinton went point by point on how race can so often determine the treatment that people receive, mentioning recent shootings in Tulsa and Charlotte, calling for restored trust between communities and police, and demanding criminal justice reform. Trump responded by calling for law and order and touting his endorsements from police unions. He then said that “African Americans are living in hell,” saying they are just walking down the street and getting “shot ... being decimated by crime."

JUST AS CLINTON INVITES VIEWERS TO VISIT HER SITE
During Debate, Trump Site Appears to Be Down
8 hours ago
THE LATEST

Just as Hillary Clinton was inviting debate viewers to visit her site for real-time fact checking, there appeared to be a problem with Donald Trump's own campaign website. For about a 15-minute period, a blank page or an error message appeared when we tried to load the Trump site.

INTERRUPTS CLINTON MULTIPLE TIMES
Trump Comes Out Swinging
9 hours ago
DEBATE UPDATE

Donald Trump has come out in the first segment of this debate raring to go. Trump has interrupted nearly every answer being given by Hillary Clinton, talking over her time and again. Clinton is sticking to her guns, smiling while Trump speaks and then calling on people to go to her website and see the fact checking being done.

×