Canada’s broadband caps ‘almost a human rights violation’ says Netflix exec

Tori Floyd
The Right ClickSeptember 15, 2012

Ever thought to yourself, "gee, as a Canadian, I sure do pay a ridiculous amount of money for the Internet I'm getting"? If so, it appears that the Chief Content Officer of Netflix agrees with you.

Ted Sarandos of Netflix made a bold statement about the broadband caps imposed on customers by Canadian ISPs:

"It's almost a human rights violation what they're charging for Internet in Canada," said Sarandos during the Merrill Lynch Media, Communications and Entertainment conference in L.A. earlier this week, GigaOM reports.

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Sarandos was talking about companies in Canada getting charged for exceeding their monthly caps, some of which begin at 15 GB a month. For users who access services like Netflix, that amount is a tiny drop in the download bucket.

Later in the week, Sarandos said that Netflix's business could be better in Canada if broadband access didn't have low caps and high fees for exceeding them: "The problem in Canada is… they have almost third-world access to the Internet," said Sarandos.

While there are many things worse than not having top-tier Internet access, it's frustrating to know that we've got the potential in Canada to have better or cheaper access, but are stuck in a less-than-ideal situation.

Forbes contributor and sympathetic Canadian Mark Evans points out that here in Canada, we're paying not just high prices for overages, but for Internet access in the first place. Some parts of Canada don't even have the option to pay those high prices, as they're stuck without any high-speed Internet access at all.

Things seem a lot worse when you start looking at the number of big-name services that we don't have access to in Canada to add value to our Internet use. Free online services such as Hulu, Spotify and Pandora, as well as pay services like Amazon Instant Video aren't available here, not to mention all the individual websites such as MTV and ABC that region-restrict Canadians from watching shows online.

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Canadians have to pay this price for less content access than our neighbours to the south largely because we're subject to a media oligopoly, leaving almost no room in the Internet marketplace for new players to come in with lower-cost options. While providers like Tek Savvy have recently begun to alleviate some of the cost woes for Canadian Internet access, they're still at the mercy of the major players on whose networks they have to run in order to operate.

Two years ago, Finland made access to high-speed Internet a legal and fundamental right for all citizens of its country. Most Canadians aren't asking for anything that extreme. But being on a level playing field with the rest of the world would be nice.

(Getty photo)