Aussies could be hit with a Netflix tax

A NEW proposal to introduce a "Netflix tax" is being met with alarm.

With research showing 37 per cent of Aussies already think they aren't getting good value from their broadband, tech experts say charging more just to watch streaming video won't make internet plans any more appealing.

NBN Co has suggested it would treat streaming video differently from other types of traffic on its network, with a Netflix-type tax introduced for Aussies using that service or other similar streaming services.

The proposal is reportedly before NBN Co's top 50 retail service providers (RSPs) and asks if they would "support the development of a price response whereby charging of streaming video could be differentiated from the charging of other traffic/services?".

"Would your organisation be likely to productise such a mechanism if developed by NBN?" they ask.

Industry insiders told iTnews many RSPs are already alarmed.

"Any move to carve out certain types of traffic and charge extra for it could also be unpopular with users, given that streaming is included in current plans at no extra charge," iTnews wrote.

The move by NBN Co would essentially take traffic decisions out of the retail service providers' hands.

There are concerns the cost of streaming services could go up. Picture: istock
There are concerns the cost of streaming services could go up. Picture: istock

Internet Australia chair Paul Brooks told iTnews there was "absolutely no justification" for NBN Co to be "artificially throttling traffic" to extract more money for video traffic.

He said that traffic should be carried as part of the fundamental base service of connectivity.

Mr Brooks said NBN should be a simple pipe between the customer and their internet service provider.

He said they should never be looking deeper into what the consumer was using their internet service for.

"It would make Australia even more the laughing stock of the planet," he warned.

Angus Kidman, tech expert at finder.com.au, said the industry was worried about where the plan might lead.

"While this 'Netflix Tax' is a long way off it does raise concerns about consumer rights to affordable internet," he said.

"Our research shows 37 per cent of Aussies think they aren't getting good value from their broadband. Charging more just to watch streaming video won't make those plans any more appealing."

The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission is yet to comment.