According to a piece penned by Janko Roettgers for Gigaom last Thursday, Netflix has some critical words for Canada’s broadband Internet access.
During the Merrill Lynch Media, Communications & Entertainment conference in Los Angeles, Netflix chief content officer, Tim Sarandos had the following to say:
“It’s almost a human rights violation what they’re charging for Internet access in Canada.”
He was speaking, of course, of the low bandwidth caps and high overage charges Canadian consumers are saddled with by their Internet service providers (ISPs). Netflix, being a online content company, has a vested interest in wider Internet access for everyone. Meanwhile, the ISPs are also in the content delivery business, and they control the pipes with which to do so. It’s a bit of an anti-trust thing, without the whole business of investigation or accountability.
Think of the connection to your Internet like you would the faucet in your kitchen. When you turn the tap, water is delivered much like when you pull up something on Netflix or Hulu; data is delivered in the form of a TV show or movie. This also applies to music, email, photos, and the web.
Unlike water, which in many places is charged specifically by usage, Internet access is a flat-fee based on speed, with many ISPs employing what are called data caps. So imagine, if you will, water being controlled in this fashion. You’ll only be able to turn your tap a third of the way, so it’s going to take you longer to fill up a glass, and if you use too much water, you’ll either be billed exponentially, have the tap reduced even further, or both.
Imagine paying over $100 per month to have the privilege of using 15 gallons of water before being charged even more. This is what Canada (and to a less extreme extent, the United States) is dealing with.
The problem is with service providers who are not only in the business of old media, but are also in the business of the Internet, which is slowly but surely stomping out the old media business model with Internet delivery of, well, everything. Instead of adapting, these service providers are taking what should essentially be a public utility and crippling it in order to prevent competition. Greedy and evil sums it up pretty well.
This is why it’s so important that Google gets our support for Google Fiber. If they can successfully shame the other ISPs into actually competing, we might get something good out of the deal. It’s the whole “enemy of my enemy” thing.