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Netflix sued by South Korean ISP after Squid Game fans swell traffic to '1.2Tbps'

You better cough up for all this bandwidth, says broadband biz

Netflix should cover bandwidth and maintenance costs of a surge in our network traffic, says South Korean ISP SK Broadband, which has taken legal action after subscribers flocked to watch the streaming giant’s latest Korean-language TV show Squid Game.

SK Broadband is unhappy that the flow of packets through its systems repeatedly spikes in size as more and more folks in South Korea fire up Netflix. We're talking 1.2Tbps of Netflix traffic alone through the ISP in September, a claim by SK reported by Reuters.

"We will review the claim that SK Broadband has filed against us," a spokesperson for Netflix told The Register on Friday. "In the meantime, we continue to seek open dialogue and explore ways of working with SK Broadband in order to ensure a seamless streaming experience for our shared customers."

It’s not the first time both companies have clashed. SK Broadband urged the Korea Communications Commission in November 2019 to get web video giants like Netflix and Google’s YouTube to pay for network usage. Netflix sued SK Broadband in response to get the courts to decide whether it was obliged to compensate ISPs.

In June, judges in Seoul ruled in favor of the Korean broadband service and agreed Netflix should pay some reasonable sum to SK Broadband to handle the streaming titan's traffic, according to The Korea Herald. SK said Netflix, which accounted for five per cent of South Korea's traffic in Q4 2020, owes $23m in network usage fees for that year alone. Netflix has appealed the decision, and court proceedings are expected to start in December.

SK Broadband’s latest lawsuit against Netflix appears to have been driven by its biggest traffic increase yet, and it seems the ISP either wants Netflix to foot some of its bandwidth bills or pay for increased network capacity, or both.

Netflix last Friday released Squid Game, a dystopian thriller in which hard-up characters desperately make it through a deadly competition to win a jackpot prize. Tens of millions of viewers have tuned in to watch the telly series, and it’s set to become Netflix’s most popular show yet.

The Register has asked SK Broadband for further comment. ®

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