Netflix has declared war on data caps

Marco polo

Netflix hates data caps, which make it harder for people to watch Netflix.

Last week, Netflix submitted a filing to the FCC urging it to say data caps are unreasonable, according to Ars Technica.

In Section 706 of the Telecommunications Act, Congress instructs the FCC to decide whether “advanced telecommunications ability” is being extended to all Americans in a “reasonable” and “timely” manner. As Ars Technica points out, historically this has meant a focus on the availability and speed of internet.

But Netflix wants the FCC to take aim at data caps, too.

“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,” Netflix wrote. “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.”

Basically, Netflix thinks data caps are getting in the way of you watching Netflix as much as you want to. If the FCC agrees with Netflix that this is unreasonable, it could put pressure on internet service providers to get rid of data caps, or raise them, though it wouldn’t strictly require them to kill them, according to Ars Technica.

Zero Rating

A big aspect of data caps that seems to irk Netflix is their “pay for play” nature, by which some video services can pay to have their traffic not count against data caps.

“Because of a low data cap, an online service may need to pay an ISP to zero-rate its traffic to enable that ISP’s customers to access the online service,” Netflix wrote. “Such arrangements create an incentive for ISPs to maintain artificially low caps.”

And exactly how much internet does the average household need per month?

Netflix said the average American needs 300 GB per month of just internet TV (like Netflix), not to mention everything else you want to do on the internet.

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