Wednesday, 03 July 2019 19:56

NBN Co denies it has plans for any 'Netflix tax' Featured

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NBN Co denies it has plans for any 'Netflix tax' Image by Jorge Gryntysz from Pixabay

Australian national broadband network builder NBN Co has denied that it has any plans to introduce a "Netflix tax" and charge increased rates for customers who stream videos.

The company was responding to claims by the paywalled CommsDay newsletter that such a move had been proposed in a wholesale pricing and product consultation review which is canvassing the views of retail service providers.

The consultation paper has been marked "commercial in confidence" but NBN Co did not say anything about looking to find out who had leaked the paper to CommsDay.

In the past, the company has taken a somewhat strong-arm approach to leakers; in August 2016, the Australian Federal Police raided the Department of Parliamentary Services at Parliament House to try and find out the source of leaks that led to a number of stories about the NBN.

This followed claims in the mainstream media in February that year that the Coalition multi-technology mix broadband network faced mounting delays and rising costs.

NBN Co said in Wednesday's statement that the review paper sought RSPs' views on delivering a good customer experience at an affordable price, and options to increase take-up among under-served customer segments.

"One of the important services that the NBN Co network provides to customers is the ability to provide access to high-quality video streaming," the statement said.

"It is a significant part of current Internet traffic volume, which is only forecast to increase. As part of the consultation, we are seeking feedback from RSPs on how to best support RSPs to provide video streaming services in the future.

"Our context for posing this question is the fact that NBN Co has introduced a number of discounts in recent years in response to increases in usage demand."

It said the consultation did not advance any preconceived ideas, but was seeking input as to whether RSPs considered that video streaming was an area that required attention.

In a blog post, the chief executive of Launtel, a small Tasmanian RSP, said many ideas were being floated in the paper. "The idea that has got some people worked up is this: 'Would your organisation support the development of a price response whereby charging of streaming video could be differentiated from the charging of other traffic/services'," Damian Ivereigh wrote.

"The key word here is 'differentiated'. NBN Co is not looking to charge more for Netflix, indeed, after conversations with the author his intention was that the price of Netflix traffic be reduced."

And, Ivereigh added, "The reason it is a lively subject is that NBN Co, like every other bandwidth provider in the world, is seeing the growth in streaming traffic overwhelm everything else on the network. NBN Co charges RSPs for bandwidth using the CVC construct and many RSPs have been complaining that streaming services are killing them.

"NBN Co’s thinking is if they were to find a way to reduce the price of this traffic, then it would alleviate some of this RSP stress."

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Sam Varghese has been writing for iTWire since 2006, a year after the site came into existence. For nearly a decade thereafter, he wrote mostly about free and open source software, based on his own use of this genre of software. Since May 2016, he has been writing across many areas of technology. He has been a journalist for nearly 40 years in India (Indian Express and Deccan Herald), the UAE (Khaleej Times) and Australia (Daily Commercial News (now defunct) and The Age). His personal blog is titled Irregular Expression.

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