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​Netflix warns it will rally customers to defend net neutrality

Published time: January 23, 2014 06:06
Justin Sullivan / Getty Images/  AFP

Justin Sullivan / Getty Images/ AFP

Video streaming service Netflix will rally its customers to protest internet restrictions, if internet service providers choose to impede internet traffic to the company’s servers. It comes after a court of appeals overturned net neutrality rules.

After the court ruling passed last week, “a domestic ISP now can legally impede the video streams that members request from Netflix, degrading the experience we jointly provide,” Netflix wrote to its shareholders on Wednesday.

“The motivation could be to get Netflix to pay fees to stop this degradation. Were this draconian scenario to unfold with some ISP, we would vigorously protest and encourage our members to demand the open internet they are paying their ISP to deliver,” the letter said.

The court ruling last Tuesday backed Verizon, which argued that the US Federal Communications Commission has no jurisdiction enforce net neutrality, a regulation demanding that ISPs gave customers equal access to all legal content on the internet.

Netflix and other media streaming services that provide access to video and music content, rely on a stable broadband connection for their business model. Media streaming is one of the fastest-growing IT industries, with Netflix alone reporting 40.4 million subscribers worldwide.

If the company chose to rally its customer base in its support, it would likely succeed. However now Netflix has an optimistic view of how the court decision would affect its business.

“The most likely case, however, is that ISPs will avoid this consumer-unfriendly path of discrimination. ISPs are generally aware of the broad public support for net neutrality and don’t want to galvanize government action,” it said.

Netflix sees an opportunity to ally with broadband service providers, since their subscribers are also the ones likely to buy more expensive higher-bandwidth packages to watch streaming video.

“In the long-term, we think Netflix and consumers are best served by strong network neutrality across all networks, including wireless. To the degree that ISPs adhere to a meaningful voluntary code of conduct, less regulation is warranted. To the degree that some aggressive ISPs start impeding specific data flows, more regulation would clearly be needed,” it said.