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Monday, 16 June 2014 10:58

FCC steps into Verizon and Netflix row

Written by Nick Farrell

This will end badly for Netflix

The FCC has decided to enter the Netflix verses Verizon row which could be bad news for the content streaming company. Verizon and Netflix have been feuding in recent weeks over which company is to blame for slow streaming speeds.

Federal Communications Commission chair Tom Wheeler said has directed his staff to gather information on the dispute from Netflix and broadband providers including Verizon to understand "precisely what is happening" and "whether consumers are being harmed."

While in any civilised country a company like Netflix would welcome the appearance of a telecom’s watchdog to curtail the antics of a comms company, in the US it has a lot to be worried about. This is because the US watchdog has been stacked with former employees of the telecoms companies.

Daniel Alvarez, an attorney who has long represented Comcast through the law firm Willkie Farr & Gallagher LLP. In 2010, Alvarez wrote a letter to the FCC on behalf of Comcast protesting net neutrality rules, arguing that regulators failed to appreciate “socially beneficial discrimination.”

Then there is Philip Verveer who worked for Comcast in the last year and the Wireless Association (CTIA) and the National Cable and Telecommunications Association. Then there is Matthew DelNero who previously worked as an attorney for TDS Telecom, an Internet service provider that has lobbied on net neutrality. FCC Commissioner Ajit Pai is a former associate general counsel at Verizon and has criticized the open Internet regulations, calling them a “problem in search of a solution.”

Chairman Wheeler, the new head of the FCC, is a former lobbyist with close ties to the telecommunications industry.

Our guess is that the watchdog will end up fining Netflix on a charge of “being annoying to telecoms companies” or “failing to provide a good service to customers by refusing to pay what the nice telecoms companies tell you to pay.”

Nick Farrell

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