Netflix and other streaming companies could soon be asked by Optus, an internet service provider in Australia, to subscribe for a “premium” service that will guarantee quality media streaming to its users, says a report from SMH. Such a proposal is likely to attract controversy on the topic of net neutrality in the country.
Netflix demand strains ISPs’ infrastructure
Internet providers like Optus in Australia have reasoned that media content services will place excessive strain on their networks. According to data by iiNet, traffic for Netflix has increased substantially with a majority of users demanding HD streaming. It is reported that almost 80% of Netflix’s traffic is HD or above. Thus, to cater to such needs, the company had to install some upgrades to its network. Though iiNet has stated that it does not seek to levy Netflix, but it has declined to comment on any sort of negotiations that it might have had with the U.S. streaming giant in return for its services.
Optus has claimed it can maintain net neutrality while providing services specifically aimed for over-the-top content providers in Australia. In addition, the internet service provider has suggested that such a move is essential to continue providing users with the best possible experience, as traffic demand has increased considerably since the launch of Netflix in the country. Also the company reflected on the issue of speed slowdowns, which have been aggravated since the introduction of Netflix in Australia.
Netflix supports net neutrality
In response to Optus’ demand, Netflix has expressed its disappointment, stating that the proposal is strictly against its policy of net neutrality. The streaming service confronted a similar problem in the U.S. where ISPs allegedly reduced the browsing speed for Netflix so that they can get paid by the company. However, the issue there was recently taken care of by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), which banned broadband suppliers from reducing speed or restricting any kind of legal internet traffic.
The term “net neutrality” refers to a standard which indicates that all internet traffic should be given equal importance by internet service providers in order to provide all content publishers a common ground to compete over the internet. Thus, the decision by Optus to selectively charge Netflix and other content suppliers for the delivery of optimum content is surely going to face some criticism, as it grants such firms a competitive advantage over other companies. Moreover, this could also affect Netflix, an avid supporter of net neutrality, if its rivals in the country opt to pay for the service.