FCC orders Comcast and Verizon to reveal how much Netflix pays for its fast lane

Life in the fast lane. 


Patrick Howell O'Neill


Published Jun 14, 2014   Updated May 31, 2021, 3:26 am CDT

In the midst of a political and technological whirlwind surrounding the future of net neutrality, the Federal Communications Commision has demanded and received the secret agreements that Netflix signed with Comcast and Verizon in order to receive preferential peering.

In laymen’s terms, this is the fee Netflix paid to get into the fast lane.

FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler promised no action based on the new information and didn’t release details to the public.

Wheeler’s stated goal is to make sure all Internet and Netflix consumers get what they pay for: content and speed. In reality, Netflix performance has been dropping dramatically on these two Internet service providers for months.

“As the consumer’s representative we need to know what is going on,” Wheeler said after an FCC meeting, Ars Technica reports. “I have therefore directed the Commission staff to obtain the information we need to understand precisely what is happening in order to understand whether consumers are being harmed… We have received the agreements between Comcast and Netflix and Verizon and Netflix. We are currently in the process of asking for others.”

Net neutrality has recently boomed in the American public’s eye, as comedians like John Oliver spread awareness of the issue. Last month, the FCC adopted a landmark rule proposal that allows for an Internet fast lane that could charge companies money for faster data delivery.

Wheeler specifically named YouTube as a “driving force” in video that would be included in the investigation.

“We are looking under the hood. Consumers want transparency, they want answers, and so do I,” Wheeler continued. “The bottom line is that consumers need to understand what is occurring when the Internet service they’ve paid for does not adequately deliver the content they desire, especially content they’ve also paid for.”

Internet lawyer and prominent esports industry figure David Graham believes that even as the tech world takes up arms to defend net neutrality, the country at large still hasn’t grasped how important it is.

“It’s the difference between a strong, fast, competitive Internet that’s friendly to new businesses and ideas and where the best tech and ideas win,” Graham said, “and a slower, monopolistic Internet that allows for less free speech and less innovation, and where being entrenched is more important than new ideas and new technology. That’s a world that sucks for everyone except those entrenched businesses and the corrupt politicians they support.”

Photo by the FCC via @GigiBSohnFCC/Twitter

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*First Published: Jun 14, 2014, 2:47 pm CDT