Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Comcast Attempts To Block Netflix

It's pretty rare for me to ask my readers to sign a petition, but I encourage you to sign on to the Progressive Change Campaign Committee's petition to the FCC to stop Comcast from blocking Netflix's streaming movie service.

Net Neutrality sometimes seems like a pretty abstract concept. But here is a concrete example of why we want to maintain Net Neutrality. For $7.99 a month Netflix will allow you to stream unlimited movies into your home. We're not yet to the point where streaming offers the kind of selection or image quality I would want to abandon DVD and Blu-Ray, and Netflix service is not perfect (particularly if you are deaf or hard of hearing). But it's a good service that is still evolving, and offers good value, especially when compared to what cable companies like Comcast, Time/Warner and Cox offer.

Meanwhile, the cable monopolies are working under an outdated paradigm where you pay a lot of money ($50-$100 per month, or more!) to get a huge selection of stuff you will mostly never watch. And if you want to pick a movie to watch via cable, you get hit with an additional per-movie fee. So it's no surprise that cable companies like Comcast (who also have a stranglehold on broadband internet delivery) would not be pleased with the new model that Netflix has developed and would do anything in their power to stop it.

In essence, Comcast is attempting to block Netflix's streaming service by charging Netflix a new fee in order to maintain a commercial advantage over them for their own service. It's exactly the kind of predatory corporate behavior we need the FCC to protect consumers from, and hopefully with your urging they will. It's a question of who the internet belongs to. Does it belong to you and me, and should we be able to decide what content we want to access over it? Or does it belong to Comcast, Time/Warner and other big corporations, and should they get to decide how we use it?

For more details read Brian Stelter's report at the New York Times. Then sign the petition.

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