AT&T rebuffs Netflix CEO's net neutrality defense

AT&T rebuffs Netflix CEO's net neutrality defense

Summary: The debate over net neutrality is starting to take an ugly tone.


It probably isn't often that AT&T and Verizon Wireless find themselves to be allies, but net neutrality might be one subject on which their interests align.

In direct response to a pointed memo by Netflix CEO Reed Hastings on Thursday, AT&T's public policy chief Jim Cicconi presented a rebuttal on Friday.

Much like Hastings, Cicconi doesn't mince words in defending the stance of the nation's second largest wireless provider, which essenitally boils down to the somewhat rhetorical question that headlines the memo, "Who Should Pay for Netflix?"

Here's an excerpt:

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.  Mr. Hastings’ arrogant proposition is that everyone else should pay but Netflix.  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.

To recall, Verizon Wireless won a court challenge to net neutrality rules, leading the U.S. Court of Appeals in Washington D.C. to send the rules back to the FCC in January.

This immediately sparked a debate about the future of the Internet as the move essentially means broadband companies would be able to charge tech companies, such as Netflix or Hulu, more money for fast connections needed to deliver their services.

It's up to the FCC now to rewrite the rules. In February, FCC chairman Tom Wheeler published a proposal he asserted will preserve the Internet as "an open platform for innovation and expression."

If there is one company that would benefit from the upholding of net neutrality, it is Netflix.

Topics: Networking, Government US, Legal, Telcos, AT&T

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  • The first honest cable company

    Look that up on Youtube. It explains everything.
    • Let Goggle fiber in ask AT&T to step out.

      The sooner more cities get Google fiber, the sooner AT&T will actually compete instead of draining your back account.

      AT&T would still be charging and am and a leg if it wasn't for T-Mobile.

      Like MS, it's losing on all fronts do it has to complain.
  • stink

    "If there is one company that would benefit from the upholding of net neutrality, it is Netflix."

    If there was one people that would benefit from the upholding of net neutrality, it is the human race.

    If there is one company who's going to be charged extra for a service the consumer has already paid for, it is Netflix.
    Chris Balint
    • So, what you're essentially saying is that

      because you paid Netflix $8 a month, Netflix shouldn't have to pay AT&T any extra money for all the bandwidth they suck. OK. Fair enough. Then YOU should pay for all the bandwidth you suck. Metered internet. Just like your electricity, gas and water.
      • That does sound fairer...

        After all if someone is charged an extra $5 dollars a month to use netflix, it's going to seem a bit rich that the guy next door illigally downloading the complete breaking bad in HD doesn't have to pay extra.

        The reality is we pay for it. Whether it's through netflix or amazon or whatever, the money comes from us.

        When you start making these deals you run the risk of pay per bandwidth - the services that pay the most get the most from your isp. It's safe to say you won't notice much saving, but you may notice you're services that haven't paid as much run slower.

        It is up to the isp to charge the user for their data usage, however it be. If they decide to offer you unlimited, no restrictions downloads, that's on them, they need to have the business sense to know theor market and price acordingly.

        Pay per bandwidth will limit future online start up projects.

        Pay per GB is entirly open and user controllable.
      • you forgot that I have already paid AT&T

        $40-$50 for x GB of bandwidth per month. If I use more than that to watch Netflix (or anything else), I have to pay AT&T more. If I stay within my limit, why would AT&T care if I use it to watch Netflix or to read ZDNet articles?

        It does not make sense that content providers have to pay AT&T, Verison, or Comcast. We already pay them.
        • Tier 1 ISP

          No you are paying your ISP for the connection. This connection allows you access to the internet and has a capacity speed and with most ISP a download GB cap.

          Netflix and other large internet services have to pay a ISP as well and in Netflix case is using a TON of the capacity (something like 40% of internet traffic). Downloading and streaming are not the same and streaming HD video to a few million people even with compression can bring most networks to it's knees.

          ISP's expand their networks and this cost is passed to both the companies using as them consumers. It's not some elastic pipe that grows as needed.
          • Yes, but you can also provide last mile content peering

            Internet access will allow you to peer content at the last mile so you don't have to mess with moving terabytes several times across the internet. Why this is not recognized, I don't know. Is all of Google's content stored at one data center? Nor is any other content provider's. Due to Netflix's popularity though, they should provide more distribution, but the last mile providers should do their part to improve. AT&T is responsible for that failure with U-Verse.
      • I pay Metered Internet

        I fail to see your point.
      • pay for bandwidth?

        In case you hadn't noticed the cable companies already charge out the wazoo for bandwidth to provide video streaming. What they are doing is trying to keep people from dumping their other overpriced services like television.

        They stick you with packages that contain only a smidgen of what you want to watch and then you have to buy an additional package or packages to get what you really want and add a lot of unwanted crap in those packages.

        If they go after Netflix and Hulu+, then they should go after every other website that blasts us with video as soon as the webpage loads, including news sites. I actually prefer to read my news, but it is difficult to find people to type it using correct spelling and grammar.
  • Deception is an art form...

    No, AT&T, Netflix isn't asking to ride for free. This is a deception campaign that we, as a community, must fight.
    • Um, yes they are. Netflix

      wants to use the power of government to force AT&T to give netflix as much bandwidth as it wants at a flat cost. If they made that argument regarding their electric bill you'd call them on it.
      • The reason this electricity bill metaphor

        Doesn't work is that netflix already pay their isp. For what they use.

        This is an argument that the isp should be able to charge them for what you use??!

        It isn't a case of calling them on it, it's a case of defending the internet. Isp's have spent so long only looking at each other they weren't looking at changing internet usage trends and aren't getting the projected profits because we use more of their bandwidth than they thought we would. Now putting up theor prices like an electric or gas company would be unpopular and loose customers so they are trying their luck, going after a big company so you don't have to pay. They aren't robin hood. Users will still pick up the bill.

        In your example it would be like your electric company charging samsung for the electricity your microwave uses because you microwave more food than they thought when they gave you unlimited electric? Or the gas company charging aeg for the gas your boiler used because you like extra hot baths
        • False logic

          In both your cases if I use my electricity or water heater a lot - I will see an increase in cost. In the water case I have a water and heating cost.

          Do people on the internet pay bills or do they just sit around their parents house and watch Netflix all day?
          • Sorry

            I don't see the false logic.

            If you use the heating or water you see the cost.

            Here the isp says that when you use more internet they see an increase in cost. They don't want to charge you extra for it and scare you off so they think the service you were using should pay for it.

            This is exactly the example i gave. Why should the people who built your dishwasher pay for your water usage? You do.

            I pay my netflix every month, and my gas, water, electric, rent. I also pay for a phone line to receive the internet, an isp to deliver the service, a data plan for my ipad, a data plan for my smartphone and my wife's data plan. All in all 4 different isp's get money from me every month. Two have unlimited downloads, one has a 2gb download limit, the other a 15gb download limit. They choose what plans to offer and i choose how much of that bandwidth to use.

            Should google be charged because they are my maps service, my search provider, my source of android apps?
  • We don't have to care.

    We're the phone company.
  • Non-Competitive Broadband

    Let’s be clear. The problem is that we are dealing with a non-competitive broadband market. A handful of carriers hold the keys to the kingdom on the last mile and they are charging not just 10 or 20 times the wholesale value of a Gigabyte. They are charging hundreds of times that value and reaping the rewards for this near monopoly which is being enforced by a government that is uninformed and uneducated about how this technology really works. These companies don’t have to collude to set prices. There is no price pressure. As long as they can all charge exorbitant prices they will continue to do so. Charging content producers to deliver down a pipe that has already been paid to be open at the other end is not a free lunch. It is highway robbery. Imagine if all the roads where owned by private companies and they could charge tolls just to let you out of your driveway. Even then, if you paid for your driveway to be connected to this mass of private roads then you would expect that traffic would be free to come and go to your home. You could come and go. Your friends could come and go and any company that attempted to make a delivery could also come and make drop offs without having to pay any additional fees. You paid to be connected to the world of roads so why should the road company decide that it had the right to now charge anyone who wanted to visit you an extra fee. If there is a free lunch in this arrangement it is the gatekeeper who is being paid twice, once by you and again by those who want to use the access that you have already paid for. Shame on the carriers for promoting this excessive property right in what should be public airway. No other country that has adopted high speed broadband suffers from this madness. What is worse is the potential economic development that could come from having an open and free roadway is being held hostage by a few companies that demand the right to control our access. If public roads where suddenly made private and sold off to the highest bidder no one would stand for it. Maybe it’s time that we make broadband free just as we do with public roads.
    • But the govt took their money and so gave hem the keys

      Your anger should be focused on the govt, they made all of this possible. See they don't care what you want, they just want to auction off the airwaves for maximal profit.

      But you will waste time complaining about the carriers.
      • what?

        And you'll waste time complaining about this single individual...
        Chris Balint
      • Blame state and cities

        People have had the "not in my backyard" mentality around broadband expansion. That's the big reason we have this mess with broadband competition. At this point in the game it's near impossible for a new ISP to get traction and enough customers to make it.

        Maybe a federal / state WiFi network paid with taxes but that would likely be for internet and email only. Streaming is going to be handicapped as a special service to keep infrastructure costs low and maintainable.