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Will Netflix back net neutrality in India?

Netflix, the online video streaming service’s launch in India is expected to be announced next week at the Consumer Electronics Show 2016. But will they support net neutrality.

tech Updated: Jan 02, 2016 12:52 IST
Sanshey Biswas
Netflix
Apple Music costs just Rs 120 — a fifth of the US price. It is possible that Netflix will follow the same strategy, to get more subscribers on launch date. (Google Play)

Netflix, the online video streaming service’s launch in India is expected to be announced next week at the Consumer Electronics Show 2016, according to a report by BusinessLine.

For those using VPNs — a service that masks your location — to access the service not available at their respective regions, will notice little difference while others will contemplate shifting from services like Bigflix, Google Play, Eros Now or Hooq.

In June 2015, a Netflix spokesperson told TOI, “We have said we plan to be nearly global by the end of 2016. We have nothing else to share at this point.” Which reaffirms the imminence of the announcement.

Netflix gives users access to HD content at $9.99 a month. This is how much Apple charges its customers in the US for unlimited access to their vast music library on streaming (Apple Music). But, in India, Apple Music costs just Rs 120 — a fifth of the US price. It is possible that Netflix will follow the same strategy, to get more subscribers on launch date.

Redditor Shadowbannedguy1 however, has deeper concerns about Netflix’s plans for India. Recollecting their strategy for Australia and New Zealand launch in march, Netflix has been known to have an unclear stand on the subject of net neutrality. In the two countries, Netflix tied up with iiNet (an internet provider in the region) to offer their services at an unfair advantage. Streaming content on Netflix wouldn’t affect the data limit of a viewer’s internet plan. Because it wouldn’t be taken into account. This is the same company that fought for net neutrality in the US court when ISP’s we’re slowing down some services to benefit others.

However, it must be noted that in Australia, streaming services already had a similar deal with the ISPs and Netflix defended itself by commenting, “We are committed to the principles of strong net neutrality. These arrangements are common in Australia and we opted not to put our members at a disadvantage to those of rival content providers whose viewing wasn’t being counted.”

But Netflix will still be charging for their service in the form of a fixed monthly rental, and if they use a portion for it to pay for the streaming charges, it might not be an outright violation of net neutrality but a matter of concern nevertheless.

The rumours of Netflix’s interest in India dates back as early as 2013 with The Hindu reporting of their hiring attempts that indicated of interests in offering services in the country, but the website in 2016, still says what it did then, “Sorry, Netflix is not available in your country yet. Enter your email & we’ll let you know when Netflix is available.”