Australia‘s National Broadband Network has today denied that it may implement a so-called ‘Netflix tax’ – a price increase from internet providers for the use of streaming services like Netflix, Stan and Amazon Prime.
The Sydney Morning Herald reported yesterday that NBN Co floated the idea in a consultation paper two weeks ago. They asked Telstra, Optus and other ISPs if they would support charging more for video streaming than for other data.
According to 9News, the question posed by the NBN read: “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? Would your organisation be likely to productise such a mechanism if developed by NBN?”
Couldn't make it up. The oxygen thieves at @NBN_Australia are lobbying to kill net neutrality cos they didn't account for size of internet video. (Everyone else did) #nbn #auspol NBN Co floats its own 'Netflix tax' https://t.co/ebEY5LXHdb
— Nick Ross (@NickRossTech) July 2, 2019
Today NBN Co released a statement rebuffing the stories’ implication that a ‘Netflix tax’ on consumers would be introduced. Instead, they say their question was about working out wholesale pricing for use of their network, and responding to the increased use of streaming services.
Fact Check: NBN Co’s Wholesale Pricing Consultation paper is not angled at introducing a ‘Netflix tax’ or any other ‘tax’ on customers. Read more: https://t.co/PoItV82T9L
— nbn™ Australia (@NBN_Australia) July 3, 2019
NBN Co say that high quality video streaming is “a significant part of current internet traffic volume, which is only forecast to increase“. They write that they’ve previously offered “a number of discounts in recent years in response to increases in usage demand“. They say they’re looking for feedback about how they can help ISPs to handle that predicted rise in demand.
Ultimately, what NBN says their aim was in posing the question about streaming services is about consultation with the industry.
In short, the paper is not angled at introducing a ‘Netflix tax’ or any other ‘tax’ on customers. Rather, at this stage, we are simply seeking input from industry on whether they believe video streaming is an area that requires attention and, if so, we are open to possible ideas they may wish to suggest.
An SBS spokesperson told the newspaper that the broadcaster is against the proposal: “As a public broadcaster, SBS continues to hold the position that its services carried on the NBN should be available to Australians on an unmetered basis.”
9News writes that a ‘Netflix tax’ such as this means ISPs would have less control of how traffic is shaped and prioritised. Internet providers told SMH they’d likely pass the NBN’s higher premium for video data on to customers.
Image: Getty Images / Thomas Trutschel
An idea to slug internet users with a new surcharge is being dubbed the 'Netflix tax'. It's one of a handful of proposals from the NBN, which is trying to cope with spiralling demand for online videos. https://t.co/sf8SIYCPnF #7NEWS pic.twitter.com/HobYl7XRDU
— 7NEWS Melbourne (@7NewsMelbourne) July 3, 2019