Netflix has been fighting for net neutrality in the United States for the past few years, determined to make sure Comcast, AT&T and other broadband companies cannot force internet services to pay more for data speeds to customers.
Even with these strong commitments in the U.S., it seems in other parts of the globe these commitments do not mean that much to Netflix, as seen in the recent expansion to Australia.
In Australia, data caps are a big deal, allowing broadband providers to limit the amount of internet a customer uses per month. To get around the internet deficiency, internet content creators can pay ISPs to not include their site in the caps.
Netflix has done just that, paying iiNet to remove its service from data caps. This means internet users in Australia can enjoy as much Netflix as they want, without the fear of running out of data.
Even though this does seem like a smart plan to push Netflix into Australia, it goes against the fundamental goal of net neutrality – that all data should be equal.
If Netflix is paying iiNet to remove data caps on its own service, it gives Netflix a competitive advantage against other streaming services, and also forces internet companies that want to remain relevant to pay iiNet.
Why is Netflix happy doing this in Australia but not in the U.S? Because the U.S. ISPs wanted money in exchange for priority speeds, while the Australian ISP is simply giving Netflix a free pass on the data caps.
It is still a shame that while the media streaming company campaigned heavily for net neutrality, it is willing to give up all of its commitments for a chance at the Australian market. Instead, it should have pushed to end these age-old data caps, unused in most European and North American countries.