Netflix supported net neutrality–the policy that all Internet traffic should be treated the same–in the U.S., but two of the company’s deals in Australia directly contradicted the principles of net neutrality. Now, Netflix admits it made a mistake and is pledging never to make that kind of deal again, saying that the move was ultimately bad for customers.
Eager to ensure limitless access for its customers, Netflix arranged a deal with Australian ISPs iiNet and Optus so that Netflix content would not count against a customer of either ISP’s data cap. Great news for those customers, right? Except that making a deal to exempt itself means Netflix is condoning the Australian ISP industry’s practice of putting data caps on anyone who doesn’t have Netflix’s financial pull. Netflix apologized to shareholders in its last quarterly report.
To put action behind its words, Netflix changed the terms of both ISP deals, essentially giving them permission to stop exempting Netflix’s videos from data caps, says Ars Technica. The ISPs are going to honor the original terms anyway—meaning they will not count Netflix content against customers’ data caps—but Netflix has pledged to avoid such deals in the future, stating in the quarterly letter that “data caps inhibit Internet innovation and are bad for consumers.”
After getting flak about the Australian data cap exemption deal when it was announced last March, hopefully Netflix will abide by the criticism it levied at Comcast when Comcast exempted its own video content, but not others’, from data caps back in 2012. “Comcast no longer applying net neutrality principles. Comcast should apply caps equally, or not at all” said Netflix CEO Reed Hastings in a Facebook post.