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Netflix CEO Slams Web Companies Over Net Neutrality

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NETFLIX
In this Friday, Jan. 17, 2014 photo, a person displays Netflix on a tablet in North Andover, Mass. Netflix Inc. reports earnings after the U.S. stock market closes on Wednesday, Jan. 22, 2014. (AP Photo/Elise Amendola) | ASSOCIATED PRESS

Netflix CEO Reed Hastings gave Internet service providers a strongly worded piece of his mind over net neutrality in a blog post on the company's website on Thursday.

In a post titled "Internet Tolls And The Case For Strong Net Neutrality," Hastings laid out why cable giants should be doing more to strengthen net neutrality and "protect our consumer experience."

"Some big ISPs are extracting a toll because they can," Hastings wrote. "They effectively control access to millions of consumers and are willing to sacrifice the interests of their own customers to press Netflix and others to pay."

The blog post comes less than a month after Netflix struck an "interconnect" deal with Comcast to give the streaming giant a direct connection to the broadband provider, instead of through third-party providers. The deal is meant to improve both streaming quality and speed for Netflix's library of movies and TV programs.

Since the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit in January struck down a Federal Communications Commission order that Internet providers such as Verizon, AT&T, Comcast and Time Warner Cable had to abide by the principles of network neutrality, treating all users equally, Netflix has been feeling the squeeze. Without net neutrality, ISPs are free to charge more or throttle speeds for data-heavy services such as Netflix streaming or Skype video calling. Since the ruling, Comcast and Verizon customers have complained of a steep drop in the quality and speed of their Netflix streaming.

Hastings wrote that "while in the short term Netflix will in cases reluctantly pay large ISPs to ensure a high quality member experience, we will continue to fight for the internet the world needs and deserves."

Comcast executives see things differently.

"We are happy that Comcast and Netflix were able to reach an amicable, market-based solution to our interconnection issues and believe that our agreement demonstrates the effectiveness of the market as a mechanism to deal with these matters,” David L. Cohen, Comcast executive vice president, said in a statement responding to Hastings' blog post.

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