Mark Goldberg


Reversing internet charges

CRTCPreparing for the inevitable, Netflix has announced a set-top box that allows its customers to download movies for viewing on their TV.

The box is said to be similar to one from Apple and the news story also talks about a streaming capability to be embedded in some DVD players to be released later this year by LG.

I’m not sure that the age of physical video rentals is coming to an end (sometimes, I like browsing through the aisles), but we can view these services as providing an alternative to video-on-demand from your TV provider.

Of course, high-definition on-demand downloading will have an impact on internet service usage allowances. So, will we see demand for these services limited by consumers concerned about having to pay excess download fees?

Alternatively, perhaps the rental services like Netflix and iTunes will look at commercial arrangements to ‘reverse the charges’ for downloading movies. The idea would be for them to enter into arrangements with major ISPs to exempt their traffic from subscriber usage caps – think of it as an internet 800 service where the usage charges are reversed.

What would the characteristics need to be for such a service in order to avoid concerns about violations of net neutrality?

Update [May 21, 10:20 am]
Bell Canada has announced its own video store with 1500 titles for rent or purchase.

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