S.Korea builds pressure on Netflix to pay network fees

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South Korean lawmakers have called for the speedy passage of a bill that would oblige overseas content providers, including Netflix, to share the burden of network usage costs.

Netflix has recently come under fire in South Korea for refusing to pay for the use of the network despite the traffic overload caused by its streaming service.

“Global content providers generate huge traffic and earn a high profit using local networks but continue to refuse to pay network fees with great bargaining power in the market,” Republican Jun Hye-sook of the ruling Democratic Party said during a seminar in Seoul.

She added that network traffic generated by overseas content providers, including Netflix and Google, account for nearly 80 per cent of the total usage in South Korea, reports Yonhap News Agency.

Local internet service providers (ISPs), like SK Broadband, have been struggling with heavy data traffic amid rising popularity of over-the-top services and urged major content providers, like Netflix, to share costs.

SK Broadband said Netflix’s traffic on its network rose to 1,200 gigabits per second (Gbps) as of September last year from 50 Gbps in May 2018 in an explosive growth amid the popularity of Korean-language drama series, such as ‘Squid Game’.

‘Squid Game’ helped push up Netflix’s monthly active users in South Korea to a record high of 9.48 million in September 2021, since Netflix launched its streaming service in South Korea in 2016, according to Nielsen KoreanClick.

Thomas Volmer, director of global content delivery policy at Netflix, has rebutted the notion that Netflix usage somehow clogs bandwidth for people at home.

Last September, SK Broadband filed a lawsuit against Netflix to demand network usage fees.

Several lawmakers here have proposed a bill that would prevent Netflix and overseas content providers from getting a free ride on South Korean networks.

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