Netflix Urges FCC to Ban Data Caps

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Netflix wants the Federal Communications Commission to rethink data caps.

In a recent letter to the agency, Netflix requests that it study whether data ceilings for wired and mobile Internet connections will harm the deployment of advanced telecom services.

"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 they would like," Netflix argues.

"Watching television shows and movies on the Internet is no longer a novelty," according to Netflix, which says data caps have more to do with lining an ISP's pocket than managing network congestion.

"Data caps and UBP raise the cost of using the the connections that consumers have paid for, making it more expensive to watch Internet television. The Commission should recognize that data caps and UBP on fixed line networks are an unnecessary constraint on advanced telecommunications capability."

That, according to Netflix, violates a section of the Telecom Act that requires the FCC to keep tabs on whether advanced telecom services are being deployed to all Americans in a reasonable and timely fashion.

An FCC spokeswoman told PCMag today that the commission's review is "ongoing," and the agency will "keep an eye on new developments in this area."

ISPs have been experimenting with data caps in recent years as more and more people settle in for hours-long binge-watches on tablets, phones, and smart TVs. In recent months, ISPs like Comcast and AT&T have increased caps from 300GB to 1TB for certain tiers; those who want truly unlimited service have to pay an extra monthly fee of $30 to $50.

Netflix says a 300GB cap barely meets the needs of an average American, let alone a multi-occupant household or 4K enthusiast. There is some data to back that up. In April, The Wall Street Journal reported nearly 8,000 complaints about usage caps in the second half of 2015.

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