Comcast CEO: Companies must pay to access Internet users

Comcast CEO Brian Roberts defended a deal his company made with Netflix to boost Internet speeds for Netflix users.

“Every company pays something to get to the Internet,” Roberts said while speaking at a Re/code conference on Wednesday.

Earlier this year, Comcast and Netflix announced they had reached a deal that would, for an undisclosed sum, allow Netflix to bypass traditional middlemen and connect directly to Comcast’s servers with the goal of boosting speeds for Comcast subscribers who use the bandwidth-heavy online video service.

Shortly after the deal was announced, Netflix CEO Reed Hastings slammed the arrangement, accusing Comcast of charging “arbitrary tolls” for access to users.

Hastings and Netflix have also come out against Comcast's proposal to acquire Time Warner Cable, warning the resulting Internet provider would have even more power to push companies like Netflix into similar interconnection deals.

During his address Wednesday, Roberts pushed back on Hastings’s claims.

“They would like it all to be free,” he said of Netflix. “I don’t blame them for that, I would like to not have to pay for cable boxes.”

Roberts repeated past assurances that Netflix voluntarily entered the interconnection deal with Comcast.

“They have changed how they choose to manage — their choice, not ours — to take that massive volume” of traffic, he said.

“They used to send DVDs by postage ... and they used to pay three quarters of a billion dollars in postage.”

Comcast has no incentive to downgrade Netflix traffic, Roberts continued.

“We want our customers to have the best Netflix experience possible,” he said.