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Published:December 2nd, 2010 11:42 EST
Comcast Is Forcing Netflix Partners To Pay a Toll To Stream Online Movies

Comcast Is Forcing Netflix Partners To Pay a Toll To Stream Online Movies

By Tim Martin

Level 3, who is the primary provider for streaming Netflix content, has been pressured by Comcast to pay a "recurring fee" "to transmit Internet online content to Comcast`s customers who request such content.


The scuffle between the two started on Nov. 19, when Level 3 says Comcast demanded a recurring fee to "transmit Internet online movies and other content to Comcast`s customers who request such content."


Three days later, under pressure from Comcast, "Level 3 agreed to the terms, under protest, in order to ensure customers did not experience any disruptions," Mr. Stortz said.

Thomas Stortz, Level 3`s chief legal officerreleased this statement:

"Level 3 believes Comcast`s current position violates the spirit and letter of the FCC`s proposed Internet Policy principles and other regulations and statutes, as well as Comcast`s previous public statements about favoring an open Internet. While the network neutrality debate in Washington has focused on what actions a broadband access provider might take to filter, prioritize or manage content requested by its subscribers, Comcast`s decision goes well beyond this. With this action, Comcast is preventing competing content from ever being delivered to Comcast`s subscribers at all, unless Comcast`s unilaterally-determined toll is paid - even though Comcast`s subscribers requested the content. With this action, Comcast demonstrates the risk of a `closed` Internet, where a retail broadband Internet access provider decides whether and how their subscribers interact with content."

Comcast released this statement shortly afterwards:

"We are happy to maintain a balanced, no-cost traffic exchange with Level 3. However, when one provider exploits this type of relationship by pushing the burden of massive traffic growth onto the other provider and its customers, we believe this is not fair."

Mr. Stortz said Level 3 would be approaching government regulators this week and "asking them to take quick action to ensure that a fair, open and innovative Internet does not become a closed network controlled by a few institutions with dominant market power that have the means, motive and opportunity to economically discriminate between favored and disfavored content."

Tim Martin is a Technology Specialist, Follow him on Facebook at or on Twitter @tsmartin For more of Tim`s articles, check out