Earlier this year, Netflix appeared to walk back its commitment to net neutrality principles by participating with Australian ISPs to make its video traffic exempt from customer's data caps. Even though the Australian broadband landscape is different than that of the US, with many ISPs imposing highly prohibitive data caps on its users, we called out Netflix for boasting about the exemption. Today in an earnings statement, Netflix expressed regret about participating in data cap schemes. Here's what Netflix had to say:
Data caps inhibit internet innovation and are bad for consumers. In Australia, we recently sought to protect our new members from data caps by participating in ISP programs that, while common in Australia, effectively condone discrimination among video services (some capped, some not). We should have avoided that and will avoid it going forward. Fortunately, most fixed-line ISPs are raising or eliminating data caps in line with our belief that ISPs should provide great video for all services in a market and let consumers do the choosing.
Even though CEO Reed Hastings had personally blasted Comcast for data cap exemptions, Netflix then voluntarily participated in the exact scheme its chief executive spoke out against. Netflix originally responded to our inquiry in March with a defense of the practice in Australia, saying that "we'll push back against such efforts, but we won't put our service or our members at a disadvantage."
Netflix also reiterated its stance on "strong net neutrality" today, as it has in other recent earnings statements. As usual, the company prefers to bundle interconnection points in with more commonly understood "last mile" net neutrality concerns. "We support strong net neutrality across the globe, allowing all consumers to enjoy the internet access they pay for, without ISPs blocking, throttling, or influencing content in the last mile or at interconnection points," Netflix says. "We have been vocal advocates for, and are pleased with, recent action by the FCC to assure an open and neutral internet under its Title II authority."