Hastings' Facebook rant draws FCC's attention

April 17, 2012: 12:09 PM ET

The Netflix CEO is lambasting Comcast again for what he says is its continued violation of net-neutrality rules.

FORTUNE -- People are still paying attention to Reed Hastings after all. The Netflix (NFLX) CEO's Sunday rant directed at Comcast (CMCSA), a favorite target of his, is getting all kinds of attention. Including, reportedly, the attention of the Federal Communications Commission, which is looking into the matter. Comcast, he says, is violating net-neutrality rules by favoring its own video streams on its Xfinity network over those of competitors.

Many of the responses have to do with his chosen venue: Facebook. Some commentators have remarked upon this choice. But this isn't new for Hastings, who after all sits on Facebook's board. And it makes sense: a blog post or, certainly, a press release probably wouldn't have gotten so many media outlets to pick up on this. Posting it to Facebook makes it seem more personal and more visceral -- more like a rant rather than a mere expression of a company's position. It's possible that if the company had simply issued a press release, it would have gotten little attention and the FCC might never have picked up on it.

Hewing to the personal, Hasting said he spent the weekend using "four good Internet video apps" through his Xbox: Netflix, HBO Go (TWX), Xfinity and Hulu. Only in the case of Xfinity, he said, was the stream not counted against his Comcast data cap.

"For example," he wrote, "if I watch last night's SNL episode on my Xbox through the Hulu app, it eats up about one gigabyte of my cap, but if I watch that same episode through the Xfinity Xbox app, it doesn't use up my cap at all. The same device, the same IP address, the same wi-fi, the same internet connection, but totally different cap treatment. In which way is this neutral?"

Good question. Comcast didn't respond immediately to a request for comment. As Time's Matt Peckham notes, Xfinity streams video over its own private IP network. But that network "still intersects with the Internet where streaming rivals like Netflix or Hulu are concerned," he writes. In other words, for end users, it doesn't matter that Comcast's network is private. They still get their video from the public Internet, which is supposed to treat all data equally.

Join the Conversation
Current Issue
  • Give the gift of Fortune
  • Get the Fortune app
  • Subscribe
Powered by WordPress.com VIP.