NEW YORK (MainStreet) — There’s a war brewing on the Internet, and soon it may hurt consumers.
Comcast, a major Internet provider, recently began charging a ‘recurring fee’ to Level 3, a communications company that partners with Netflix to stream movies online to customers who use Comcast. Now, some are arguing that this move goes against the idea of a free and open Internet.
“By taking this action, Comcast is effectively putting up a toll booth at the borders of its broadband Internet access network, enabling it to unilaterally decide how much to charge for content which competes with its own cable TV and Xfinity delivered content,” said Thomas Stortz, chief legal officer of Level 3, in a press release.
Level 3 inked a deal earlier this month to host videos for Netflix and stream them to consumers. As a result, the company required significantly more bandwidth from Comcast to deliver these videos, prompting the latter to impose a new extra fee. And according to Level 3, Comcast offered the company no other alternative.
“On Nov. 22, after being informed by Comcast that its demand for payment was ‘take it or leave it,’ Level 3 agreed to the terms, under protest, in order to ensure customers did not experience any disruptions,” Stortz said.
Not surprisingly, Comcast disagrees with Level 3’s assessment.
“Level 3's position is simply duplicitous,” the company said on its website. According to Comcast, Level 3 is trying to impose “the burden of massive traffic growth” without being willing to compensate the company for their troubles.