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Netflix official says its network usage does not clog bandwidth in S. Korea

All News 16:45 November 23, 2021

SEOUL, Nov. 23 (Yonhap) -- South Korean users pay enough to local internet service providers for bandwidth required in accessing Netflix, a company executive said Tuesday, in a thinly veiled comment that the U.S. streaming giant will not pay network usage fees.

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

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

"Netflix stream is not that much, on average in Korea it's 3.6 mbps at peak time, which is less than 2 percent of what users pay for ... Netflix is not somehow filling up the network," he said in a Zoom seminar that was streamed via YouTube.

SK Broadband said Netflix's traffic on its network rose to 1,200 gigabits per second (Gbps) as of September this 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, since Netflix launched its streaming service in South Korea in 2016, according to Nielsen KoreanClick.

In September, SK Broadband filed a lawsuit against Netflix to demand network usage fees, saying that the U.S. streaming giant did not come forward for talks even after a local court ruled in June that it is "reasonable" for Netflix to provide something in return for the service.

Volmer said that it is a "global rule" for internet service providers to pay for access to the global internet as seen in other countries, such as Japan and Singapore.

"So by charging a toll at home and mandating this toll at home, what is happening is that the law or regulation might actually deter investment and discourage content providers from investing in Korea," he said.

Last week, a local lawmaker proposed a bill that would prevent Netflix and overseas content providers from getting a free ride on the South Korean networks.

This image from Yonhap News TV shows the logo of global video streaming giant Netflix and its services. (PHOTO NOT FOR SALE) (Yonhap)


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