Comcast has been accused of erecting a roadblock to extract more money for streaming movies from Netflix. This arrives in the wake of the streaming-only plan recently announced by Netflix; it raises new concerns about broadband Internet providers blocking or limiting access from competitors in the program delivery business.
The new charge comes from Level 3 Communications, which earlier this month won a contract to provide streaming and storage services for Netflix, beginning on January 1. The contract is not exclusive, but Level 3 said it would double its storage capacity in anticipation of the increased business. Shortly thereafter, Comcast demanded a new recurring fee from Level 3. Level 3 agreed under protest, but now plans to approach regulators and policy makers to plead their case.
For their part, Comcast says that Level 3 is "trying to gain an unfair business advantage" over its competitors in the content delivery business, shifting the cost of increased business "onto Comcast and its customers instead of Level 3 and its customers." As explained by TechCrunch, Level 3 acts as both a backbone and a content delivery provider. Comcast also plays multiple roles: as an Internet / cable provider and as a content provider. What does all this mean for movie-lovers?