South Korean telco SK Broadband and Netflix call a truce in network payment fight

Maybe better together? Duo announce AI and entertainment product partnership

South Korean telecom SK Broadband and Netflix have called a truce in their dispute over who should pay for the trillions of bits of video content flowing over mobile networks.

SK Broadband brought legal action against Netflix in October 2021, claiming the vid-streaming services should cover the surging costs it incurred by carrying hit shows like Squid Game that drove 1.2 terabits per second of Netflix across the telco's network in September 2021 alone.

SK claimed Netflix, which was responsible for five percent of South Korea's Q4 2020 traffic, owed $24 million in 2020 network usage fees.

Netflix, unsurprisingly, thought it should not have to pay extra for its own success. The streaming giant reasoned that its content delivery network, Open Connect, is offered gratis and is "proven to reduce at least 95 percent of network traffic." Netflix asserted that the telco had turned a blind eye to the tool.

That's all moot now, because the two have stopped being enemies and formed a partnership.

"Moving forward, SK Broadband and Netflix will end all disputes with the signing of today's partnership, and collaborate as partners for the future. This mutual decision stems from both parties' shared foundational principle that prioritizes customers," states a Monday press release from SK Broadband's parent company, SK Telecom.

The entertainment-focused partnership will see the duo release joint products and explore the use of AI.

Netflix, SK Telecom and SK Broadband declared that they would together facilitate easier access and payment options through Netflix, SK Broadband's IPTV, and SK Telecom's T Universe, with the telco providing bundled packages.

And while Netflix has been in the news recently for wanting to use AI to create digital versions of human extras it can use in perpetuity for a pittance, the AI collaboration with SK Broadband will initially target more accessible technology – such as the telco's conversational UX and personalization tech.

SK Telecom veep Choi Hwan-seok promised the network provider would "continue to evolve into an AI company and work together with various players at home and abroad." ®

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