June 22, 2020
Charter Communications, owner of Spectrum cable, has petitioned the Federal Communications Commission to allow it to charge interconnection fees (or peering) to over-the-video services such as Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, HBO Max, Disney+ and Hulu broadband.
The fees were in part the genesis behind the Obama-era Net Neutrality guidelines, which specifically prohibited Internet Service Providers from up-charging streaming video services for faster access into subscriber homes.
Charter has been prohibited from charging fees as part of an anti-trust agreement with federal regulators when it acquired Time Warner Cable and Bright House Networks in 2016.
The cable operator now claims that with online video booming and the FCC under new authority, it should be allowed to charge fees to third-party platforms delivering content on its broadband network similar to the interconnection fees charged by Comcast, Verizon and AT&T. Charter also wants the FCC to do away with its ability to impose data caps on subscribers.
“The online video marketplace has become extremely competitive,” Charter said in the June 17 petition. “Online video distributors have seen record-shattering growth and increased strength across all performance indicators, including number of subscribers, amount of content available, number of platforms, streaming hours, and revenue. In fact, the online video distribution marketplace is almost unrecognizable compared to what existed in 2016.”
Charter contends that to ensure efficient allocation of its resources to accommodate the “explosive growth” in broadband usage, many Internet providers have incorporated data caps. It claims data caps imposed by companies such as Comcast, AT&T, Cox and Altice8 has not stifled the growth of SVOD services.
“In fact, the opposite is true: OVD services are thriving and growing at an unprecedented rate. In other words, the market is working,” Charter wrote.