Netflix Tech Partner Accuses Comcast of Putting Up 'Toll Booth'

Level 3 Communications, a technology service provider whose clients include Netflix, is accusing broadband and cable company Comcast of threatening the open Internet by demanding a recurring fee for transmitting movies and other content to consumers. Thomas Stortz, chief legal officer for Level 3, said Comcast notified Level 3 Nov. 19 that its demand for payment was “take it or leave it.” Level 3 agreed to the terms, under protest. “By taking this action, Comcast is effectively putting up a toll booth at the borders of its broadband Internet access network, enabling it to unilaterally decide how much to charge for content which competes with its own cable TV and Xfinity delivered content,” Stortz said. “This action by Comcast threatens the open Internet and is a clear abuse of the dominant control that Comcast exerts in broadband access markets as the nation’s largest cable provider.” A request for comment was not immediately returned by Comcast. Level 3 operates a broadband backbone network that independent online content providers use to transmit movies, games and sporting events to consumers. When Comcast customers order content, Level 3 transmits it to Comcast for delivery.

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