As the FCC and Justice Department enter the final stage of their deliberations on the proposed $28 billion union of NBC Universal and Comcast, Level 3 Communications vowed on Monday to seek redress at the FCC against Comcast’s demand for payment of recurring fees to transmit online video content to Comcast broadband customers via the Level 3 Internet backbone. Earlier this month, Level 3 was selected as the primary content distribution network for Netflix’s fast-growing streaming video service. A survey of Internet service providers (ISPs) conducted earlier this year by Sandvine Inc. shows that Netflix accounts for more than 20% of all downstream bandwidth usage in the U.S. between the peak usage hours of 8 PM and 10 PM. Comcast is alleged to have contacted Level 3 about the recurring fee plan within days of the Netflix deal. Although Level 3 agreed to accept Comcast’s terms, sources indicate that Level 3 did so under protest and only in the interest of averting service disruptions. Asserting that “Comcast’s current position violates the spirit and letter of the FCC’s proposed Internet policy . . . and other regulations and statutes,” Level 3 chief legal officer Thomas Stortz characterized Comcast’s demand as “a clear abuse of the dominant control that Comcast exerts in broadband access markets as the nation’s largest cable provider.” As such, Stortz confirmed that “we are approaching regulators and policy makers and asking them to take quick action to ensure that a fair, open and innovative Internet does not become a closed network.” While observing, “we are happy to maintain a balanced, no-cost traffic exchange with Level 3,” a spokesman for Comcast replied: “when one provider exploits this type of relationship by pushing the burden of massive traffic growth onto the other provider and its customers, we believe this is not fair.” When asked for comment, FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski told reporters that the agency is “looking into” the Level 3 allegations.