Comcast has just about closed on its deal to acquire NBC-Universal, meaning that they’ll soon have a much greater stake in directing their customers to their own streaming entertainment properties. So it’s not too surprising that they are already charging the competition more to deliver Netflix movies to Comcast customers.
Level 3 Communications Inc., an Internet backbone company that supports Netflix Inc.’s increasingly popular movie streaming service, complained Monday that cable giant Comcast Corp. is charging it an unfair fee for the right to send data to its subscribers. Comcast replied it is being swamped by a flood of data and needs to be paid. Level 3 said it agreed to pay under protest, but that the fee violates the principles of an “open Internet.” It also goes against the Federal Communications Commission’s proposed rules preventing broadband Internet providers from favoring certain types of traffic, it said. “Comcast is effectively putting up a toll booth at the borders of its broadband Internet access network, enabling it to unilaterally decide how much to charge for content,” said Level 3’s chief legal officer, Thomas Stortz, in a statement.
Comcast has a history of “throttling” (slowing down) the signals of heavy download customers such as those accessing BitTorrent or Netflix. The FCC continues to back the Net Neutrality bill which would prevent internet providers from charging more for signals from their competitors. Netflix now accounts for about 20% of all internet downstreaming in North America.