Netflix executive compares broadband caps to a 'human rights violation'

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Nic Healey can usually be found on a couch muttering about aspect ratios and 7.1 channel sound - which is helpful given that he's the home entertainment guy at CNET.

Netflix chief content officer Ted Sarandos has blasted Canadian internet service providers (ISPs) for their low caps and excess usage charges — the same models that are still used in Australia.

Canadian broadband plans are hurting Netflix business.
(Credit: Netflix)

Speaking at the Merrill Lynch Media, Communications and Entertainment conference in Los Angeles last week, Sarandos minced no words when speaking of Canada's ISPs, stating: "It's almost a human rights violation, what they're charging for internet access in Canada."

According to GigaOm, this is not the first time that Netflix has called Canadian ISPs to task, with CEO Reed Hastings having previously been vocal about his issues with broadband pricing in the country.

In Canada, Netflix has even been forced to change its model for streaming, offering SD video as the default option rather than HD. Speaking at the conference, Sarandos is reported to have called Canada's internet access "third world", and acknowledged that Netflix business in the country has suffered.

In Australia, unlimited ISP plans are unusual, with the majority of Australian broadband users remaining on a capped plan of some sort. While some of the data quotas can be as high as 1TB, they can also start as low as 5GB.

iiNet's CTO John Lindsay recently came out in defence of the quota system, saying that if all users were to have unlimited downloads, then 3 per cent of users would account for 50 per cent of the traffic, something that he regards as "unfair".

Although Netflix has not evidenced any plans to launch its service in Australia, the local market for video streaming is slowly growing, with Hoyts set to enter the fray in the coming months. Whether the state of our own pre-National Broadband Network (NBN) broadband would preclude Netflix from seeing Australia as a viable marketplace based on the company's Canadian experiences remains to be seen.

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