Democracy & Technology Blog Netflix seeks piece of the action

Remember how network neutrality regulation was supposed to be for the limited purpose of preventing broadband providers (aka Internet Service Providers) from blocking or degrading access to unaffiliated web sites?
Those of us who feared a “slippery slope” have been attacked as cynical, idiotic and hysterical.
jpgSo now along comes Netflix.
NN regulation won’t help Netflix, according to CEO Reed Hastings. The firm is not worried about being blocked or degraded. It’s worried about being charged for the huge volume of video traffic it hopes to deliver over the Internet in place of the DVDs it now sends through the mail. Netflix wants free access to the customers of the broadband providers.

We don’t think ISPs should be able to use their exclusive control of their residential customers to force us to pay them to let in the data their customers desire

What planet is this guy from? Well, he’s probably thinking that if government is going to protect Google, it should protect Netflix, too. If government is going to protect current business models, there is no difference between Google and Netflix.
Although the “phone company” was once a monopoly whom everyone looked upon as a giant private-sector “tax collector” that could provide charitable funding for all kinds of worthy projects, the monopoly began unraveling in the late 1970s. Telephone and cable companies had exclusive control of their subscribers, oh, about 30 years ago. That was then.
Let’s talk about now. Broadband providers do not have exclusive control of their residential customers. There are three leading broadband providers — AT&T, Comcast and Verizon — plus many medium and smaller competitors. If one of the many national, regional and local broadband providers attempted to charge Netflix unreasonable rates, Netflix could choose to serve its customers through other broadband providers. Netflix and its customers are free to choose.
Everyone would like to eliminate the middleman. But often the middleman actually provides some real value.
Let’s cut to the bottom line. If Netflix has a superior product, consumers will demand it. If it doesn’t, they won’t. Broadband providers have no choice but to provide what consumers demand. Otherwise, consumers will discontinue service and take their business somewhere else.
In a free market, winners don’t need to seek favors from government. That’s for losers. Netflix seeking government protection is my clue as a private investor to look somewhere else for a fair return on my next investment.

Hance Haney

Director and Senior Fellow of the Technology & Democracy Project
Hance Haney served as Director and Senior Fellow of the Technology & Democracy Project at the Discovery Institute, in Washington, D.C. Haney spent ten years as an aide to former Senator Bob Packwood (OR), and advised him in his capacity as chairman of the Senate Communications Subcommittee during the deliberations leading to the Telecommunications Act of 1996. He subsequently held various positions with the United States Telecom Association and Qwest Communications. He earned a B.A. in history from Willamette University and a J.D. from Lewis and Clark Law School in Portland, Oregon.