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Netflix’s admission that it slows down video streams warrants a federal investigation, FCC Commissioner Michael O’Rielly said today.
“It appears that Netflix made accusations of wrongdoing by ISPs, all the while knowing that its own practices were one of the causes of consumer video downgrading,” O’Rielly said in a speechdelivered at the American Action Forum. “There is no way to sugarcoat it: the news is deeply disturbing and justly generates calls for government — and maybe even Congressional — investigation.”
O’Rielly was responding to Netflix’s recent acknowledgment that for more than five years, it secretly slowed down videos streamed through AT&T and Verizon’s networks. The online video company came clean about the throttling late Thursday, one week after T-Mobile CEO John Legere called attention to the speed reductions on rival networks.
Netflix said in a blog post that it slows video streams to 600 kilobits per second because it wants “to protect our members from overage charges when they exceed mobile data caps.”
That revelation immediately put Netflix on the defensive with broadband providers, as well as critics of the FCC’s recent net neutrality rules. Those rules — which don’t apply to Netflix and other so-called “edge providers” — prohibit Internet service providers from blocking or degrading material.
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