South Korean internet service provider SK Broadband sued Netflix to pay for costs from increased network traffic and maintenance work because of a surge of viewers to the US firm’s content, an SK official said.
The move comes after a Seoul court said Netflix should “reasonably” give something in return to the internet service provider for network usage. A number of South Korean assembly members have spoken out against content providers who do not pay for network usage despite generating huge traffic.
Netflix said it will review SK Broadband’s claim and seek dialogue and explore ways in the meantime to work with the company to ensure customers are not affected. The popularity of the hit series Squid Game and other offerings have underlined Netflix’s status as the country’s second-largest data traffic generator after Google’s YouTube.
But the two do not pay network usage fees, which other content providers – such as Amazon, Apple and Facebook do – SK said on Friday.
Netflix’s data traffic handled by SK jumped 24 times from May 2018 to 1.2 trillion bits of data processed per second this September, SK said. This is riding on the success of several Netflix productions from South Korea, including Squid Game and D.P.
SK Broadband said it lodged a lawsuit against Netflix for it to pay for using SK’s networks since Netflix began using SK’s dedicated line in 2018. This delivers increasingly larger amounts of data-heavy, high-definition video content to viewers in South Korea from servers in Japan and Hong Kong.
Last year, Netflix had brought its own lawsuit on whether it had any obligation to pay SK for network usage, arguing Netflix’s duty ends with creating content and leaving it accessible. Netflix has appealed against the ruling, court records showed, with fresh proceedings to start in late December.
Netflix said on Wednesday that it contributed to the creation of about 16,000 jobs in South Korea stemming from about 770bn won in investments, as well as an economic effect of about 5.6 trillion won.
Ruling party assembly member Kim Sang-hee said on Wednesday that out of South Korea’s top 10 data traffic generators, 78.5 per cent of the traffic came from foreign content providers, up from 73.1 per cent a year earlier, with “Google, YouTube and Netflix that account for the majority turning a blind eye to network usage fees”.
In the US, Netflix had paid a fee to broadband provider Comcast Corp for faster streaming speeds. A Netflix official said the company no longer pays Comcast for network access and works closely with thousands of internet service providers around the world to ease network congestion and lower internet transit costs.
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