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Netflix hails net neutrality vote as ‘win’ for consumers

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“Consumers win.” That’s how Netflix is portraying Thursday’s historic vote in favor of “net neutrality” by the Federal Communications Commission.

Netflix has been one of the most visible proponents of the new regulatory approach, which — if upheld by the courts — will treat wired and wireless Internet access more like a utility and regulate it accordingly.

In a statement shortly after the regulatory proposal passed by a vote of 3-2, Netflix said “the net neutrality debate is about who picks winners and losers online: Internet service providers or consumers. Today, the FCC settled it: Consumers win.”

One day earlier, in an unusually aggressive step for a corporation its size, Netflix used its main social media accounts to rally support for the vote.

“What if the Internet was so slow it loaded one word at a time?” a tweet from Netflix said, spaced out line by line to reiterate the point.

“Don’t let Comcast win,” the tweet said, ending with a link to an advocacy web site, Battleforthenet.com.

Broadband providers like Comcast have been among the staunchest opponents of the Democratic-led FCC’s bid to strengthen Internet access regulations. They say the regulation is unnecessary and will inhibit investment in broadband infrastructure.

In the press, the debate has sometimes been summarized as Comcast versus Netflix. Activists who support the FCC regulations have invoked the possibility that the streaming video service could be impeded if Comcast created “fast lanes” and “slow lanes” on the Internet.

Extending the metaphor, much of the debate has been about the neighborhood streets that lead to homes, but Netflix has said it is particularly concerned about the Internet’s highways, known as interconnection points.

“Today’s order is a meaningful step towards ensuring ISPs cannot shift bad conduct upstream to where they interconnect with content providers like Netflix,” the company said on Thursday.

“Net neutrality rules are only as strong as their weakest link, and it’s incumbent on the FCC to ensure these interconnection points aren’t used to end-run the principles of an open Internet.”

In other words, Netflix wants the FCC to follow through on the intent of Thursday’s vote and monitor potential anticompetitive behavior.

Netflix also praised a separate FCC vote on Thursday, one that was intended to stop states from banning municipal broadband networks, ones operated by towns instead of private companies.

Netflix called the vote “an important step toward ensuring greater consumer choice. These actions kick off a new era that puts the consumer, not litigious corporate giants, at the center of competition policy.”