Netflix, who once thought bandwidth caps were no big deal
, not too long ago finally realized that they can indeed be used anti-competitively to put services that compete with an ISPs content at a competitive disadvantage. Since that time they've been heavily criticizing "cap and overage" ISP pricing models, arguing that they're in no way based on economic or network congestion realities, but are instead primarily used to drive already-expensive broadband prices up
, and to drive Internet video competitors out of business.
Though the chance of any real net neutrality consumer protections are essentially dead in the United States
for now, the subject has seen renewed interest after it was revealed Comcast Xfinity content on the Xbox 360 doesn't count against their usage cap
. Netflix likewise has turned up the heat, recently offering a presentation at the FCC
highlighting how such caps are being used anti-competitively. In prepared statements
before a House communications and technology subcommittee hearing today in Washington, Netflix put it rather succinctly:
When you couple limited broadband competition with a strong desire to protect a legacy video distribution business, you have both the means and motivation to engage in anticompetitive behavior, David Hyman, Netflixs general counsel, said in testimony submitted for todays hearing.
The result has been a DOJ investigation into not only whether cable is involved in anti-competitive behavior against over the top video operators, but whether cable companies are violating antitrust laws by conspiring to keep prices high. For his part, former FCC boss turned cable industry lobbyist Michael Powell this week insisted that any claims of anti-competitive actions by the cable industry are "flatly wrong." At one press hearing this week, Powell asked "Why would you want to frustrate consumers?"