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Netflix Wants FCC to Ban Annoying Internet Data Caps

By Brian Gallagher — September 14th, 2016

As Internet service providers (ISP) struggle with issues surrounding data caps, where ISPs limit the amount of data a customer can use, the streaming service Netflix has made its voice heard on the matter. Netflix issued a 10-page filing to the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), revealing that they think the commission should ban data caps altogether. This is clearly a hot-button topic that affects anyone who streams content through various devices, which would be limited by these data caps.

Fearing some sort of response from the FCC, ISP's Comcast and AT&T recently increased their data caps from 300GB a month to 1TB a month, a move that was actually applauded by Netflix CEO Reed Hastings on his Twitter page in late April. Still, in Netflix's filing with the FCC, they address how watching movies and TV shows over the Internet is no longer a novelty or a luxury. Here's part of the streaming giant's filing.

"Internet television has become a highly competitive, diverse platform for the distribution of television and movies. Award winning original content and seamless integration with entertainment and mobile devices has led to an increase in the number of hours that consumer Spend watching Internet television over broadband connections. The Commission increased the download speed benchmark for fixed broadband service to 25 Mbps in part to account for consumer expectations that they will be able to access video over the Internet. Watching television shows and movies on the Internet is no longer a novelty. Consumers increasingly expect more from their broadband connection, and they expect that broadband Internet will deliver a television experience that is the same or better than what they receive from their cable service, satellite provider, or local broadcaster. Accordingly, Netflix supports the Commission's move to define mobile advanced telecommunications capability at the proposed 10/1 Mbps threshold and urges the Commission to evaluate the effects that broadband caps have on the deployment of advanced telecommunications capability."

Netflix has previously stated that streaming 3.4 hours of HD content would cost a consumer 10GB, while consumers who stream the same amount of content in Ultra HD 4K, increases that number by 140 percent to 24GB. For those who stream movies and TV shows daily, data caps would severely hinder their streaming habits. The Netflix filing goes on to add that 300GB per month simply isn't enough for even the average Internet user.

"Data caps (especially low data caps) and usage based pricing ("UBP") discourage a consumer's consumption of broadband, and may impede the ability of some households to watch Internet television in a manner and amount that they would like. For this reason, the Commission should hold that data caps on fixed­ line networks ­­and low data caps on mobile networks­­ may unreasonably limit Internet television viewing and are inconsistent with Section 706. A data cap or allotment of 300 GB of data per month or higher is required just to meet the Internet television needs of an average American. This does not account for the other things that consumers typically do with their broadband connections, such as web ­browsing or downloading games or apps from the Internet. An above average television watcher, a multi­occupant household, or a consumer wishing to watch in 4K requires a much higher cap or allotment. In this way, today's 'above ­average' Internet consumer is tomorrow's average Internet consumer."

This statement comes just days before it launches its new Marvel superhero series Luke Cage, which starts streaming the entire first season on September 30. It remains to be seen how the FCC will respond to this filing, or if they have plans to get rid of data caps once and for all. Take a look at Reed Hastings' tweet below, as the fight to ban data caps continues.

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