Net Neutrality, Australia and Netflix

Even with all the traveling you might do and the lovely parts of the world you might like to visit there is little else more comforting than a night in to watch something on Netflix with a drink or two before drifting off to sleep. We’re living in an era where our almost insatiable thirst for media is close to being quenched with all of the on demand offerings we have for tv shows and movies. With Netflix becoming wildly successful and taking customers away from the cable companies it was only a matter of time before the cable companies started to use their power to try and get a piece of the action. If you are some one who stays relatively informed and watch Netflix you probably know a bit about the battle that’s been going on between Netflix and ISPs which started in the states but is now spreading to many countries. From things like charging Netflix more than other websites or slowing down their customers’ speeds for using Netflix instead of the cable companies’ alternative the fight has been going on a while and is starting to concern the government more and more.

With the expansion of Netflix and the success of their business it finally came to Australia where expectations ranged all over the place for the now media giant. A country plagued with the message “the owner of this video has not made it available in your country”, the worst internet piracy out of any nation and internet speeds that would make you think it was a third world country Australians were mixed in how excited they allowed themselves to get about Netflix. Before moving to Australia I was excited to know that shortly after my arrival Netflix would be available, but when I started to talk to Australians about it my excitement was slightly tampered. Netflix uses a large amount of data and nearly all Australian internet providers charge you more the more data you use. Australians were also told that many of the shows available to other Netflix viewers wouldn’t be available to Australian subscribers even including some Netflix original shows. So needless to say I woke up on the 24th when it launched in Australia and opened my computer with a bit of trepidation.

Netflix was pretty damn great, more British than I’d watched in the states and a lot of relatively recent movies and a few Australian tv shows to boot. My internet certainly got a workout those first few days until we started to worry about how much data we were using of our monthly allotment and what we’d be paying on top of the reasonable Netflix subscription. We later learned that Netflix had parlayed with a lot of the internet providers in Australia in order to have the usage of their service be unmetered and so not count toward your data usage. This obviously was a great way to secure the market early when Australian alternatives had already popped up, but also goes against Netflix’s outspoken support for Net Neutrality. They have recently announced that they regret the decision to secure unmetered access to their service in a breach of their company’s beliefs which lets them save face while also gaining market share in Australia. It will be very interesting to see how this affects the future of Netflix, after metering goes into effect, and Net Neutrality in Australia, which has taken a number of hits recently from the Australian government.