Verizon to Netflix: Cease and desist on messages blaming slow streaming on Verizon’s broadband service

“Verizon Communications Inc on Thursday demanded that Netflix Inc immediately stop displaying messages to customers that place blame on Verizon’s broadband service for slow delivery of Netflix TV shows and movies,” Lisa Richwine and Marina Lopes report for Reuters.

“The letter is the latest sign of tension between content providers like Netflix and Internet service providers over who should pay the price for companies that stream heavy traffic online,” Richwine and Lopes report. “In a cease-and-desist letter sent to Netflix, Verizon also asked the video streaming service to provide information including a list of customers on the Verizon network to whom Netflix delivered the notices, or face legal action. ‘Failure to provide this information may lead us to pursue legal remedies,’ Verizon general counsel Randal Milch said in a letter to Netflix general counsel David Hyman.”

“In mid-May, Netflix started a test of messages displayed on the screen for some customers when a video is buffering. The messages say that there is congestion on the network of Verizon or another Internet service provider,” Richwine and Lopes report. “Netflix said on Thursday the test is continuing and meant to provide customers more information about their service, similar to a speed index that Netflix has published for months with a ranking of Internet service providers. ‘This is about consumers not getting what they paid for from their broadband provider,'” Netflix spokesman Jonathan Friedland said. ‘We are trying to provide more transparency, just like we do with the ISP Speed Index, and Verizon is trying to shut down that discussion.'”

“In April, Netflix said it reluctantly signed a deal to pay fees to Verizon to bypass those middlemen and deliver content directly to the company, ensuring faster speeds,” Richwine and Lopes report. “But Verizon is still working to implement the needed architecture and expects to finish improvements by the end of 2014.”

Read more in the full article here.

[Thanks to MacDailyNews Reader “Arline M.” for the heads up.]

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Verizon denies using net neutrality victory to throttle Netflix, Amazon traffic – February 5, 2014

Obama backs away from ‘Net Neutrality’ campaign promises after U.S. FCC vote – May 16, 2014
FCC to propose new rules for so-called ‘Net Neutrality’; would allow broadband providers to charge companies for speed – April 23, 2014
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Verizon’s ‘Net Neutrality’ battle with U.S. FCC not about free speech – September 9, 2013
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Rasmussen: Just 21% of likely U.S. voters want FCC to regulate Internet – December 28, 2010
FCC cites Android ‘openness’ as reason for neutered ‘Net Neutrality’ – December 22, 2010
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25 Comments

  1. Verizon can complain all its wants. The question is, does Netflix’s data back up their claims?

    I purchase bandwidth from my ISP. It is up to me what content I push/pull over that connection. It should not be Verizon’s right to extort additional money from the content provider. Basically, all Verizon or any other ISP has to do is follow the data, find out what is popular, then start delaying those data feeds to put some pain on the content provider and the consumer. Verizon and the other ISPs are hoping that we will blame the content providers rather than the dumb pipes. They are mistaken.

      1. We’re still in the early days of the commercial use if the Internet. It is absolutely true that things aren’t perfect in this market currently.

        But before running to the Government for protection, we need to give the market some time to work through these issues before passing legislation that has a very high risk of causing unforeseen consequences with negative impacts on the market.

        Once the Government steps in with regulation you have just stifled any potential future innovation in Internet services and business models.

        Be very careful what you ask for. You may get it.

  2. And yet the ISPs are telling the FCC that they can provide “fast” and paid “hyper speed” internet service if only they could charge Netflix et al extra fees. Bah.

  3. I live less than a mile from the Verizon central switch in one of the 10 fastest-growing cities in America over 50,000 people. There are multiple ISPs within 20 miles of me offering over 50 Mbps download speeds. I have the fastest and most expensive broadband that Verizon, as the local incumbent phone monopoly, offers at my location. I just checked: 3.78 down, 0.78 up by their reckoning, probably not enough for Netflix HD, even if it wasn’t being throttled. Not content with robbing their customers, Verizon doesn’t want Netflix to tell us what is wrong.

  4. ISPs are increasingly like all other utilities. You don’t pay higher rates to power your fridge, you don’t pay higher rates to water your garden, so I find it absurd that an ISP can dictate what you do with your bandwidth that you pay for.

      1. As long as it’s a fair and reasonable rate? He’ll yes! If I only use 5GB in one month, why should I pay for 6? And if I use 7GB the next month, it’s not like they give me a break for all the times I didn’t go over.

        So long as they don’t charge insane rates, why not pay only for what you use?

      2. That’s a fair point! But you do pay more for extra data on plans, and some plans will bill you extra as you go over your limit if you don’t want your speed slowed. (That’s how it is where I’m from.) The analogy only goes so far, sadly.

      3. Except it’s not like that.

        ISPs aren’t utilities, and unlike utilities (water, gas. elec.) where you pay for what you consume, ISPs don’t provide the consumable (i.e. content/data) that you “consume”.

        Imagine there are two “water” utilities. Water company A owns the pipe works (water mains throughout the community, branches to homes, businesses, etc.) and company B owns the water and its source

        Company A gets paid for providing access to water and Company B for the water.

        Company A decides it wants to get paid for the amount of water being consumed also… rationalizing that, since it provides access to the water, it also deserves “a piece of the pie”. It also decides it is in “consumers best interests” to restrict the flow of water by using 1/4″ pipe from their 20″ street mains to any home’s 1″ plumbing.

      4. I wish internet bandwidth was pay-as-you-go! But the problem is because it’s technology, consumers are generally dumb. So selling “nice-sounding packages” is so much easier.

        Imagine your electric company selling packages like:
        – 100kwh – $10
        – 200kwh – $20

        It’s fixed-limit packages that ISPs are forced to sell because consumers don’t understand what the unit is. They just look at the number. 100 sounds bigger than 50, and if the price of the 100 package is in their budget, that’s what they buy.

    1. Absolutely. There is no competition. And wait until Comcast buys Time Warner cable. Then we’ll have basically two providers. And speed checks are misleading. It’s not how fast your connection is up and down at the moment you check, it’s how fast it is consistently over a period of time. And that changes a lot. Like the CEO of Softbank says, “Internet speed in the United States sucks”.

  5. Well Netflix does have a point; Verizon is slow because my Internet connection is generally slow and I have their premium service. They also just raised their rates yet again, which I am not very enthused to say the least!

    1. Most people don’t know how to measure their ISP connection’s bandwidth. Just running some random speed test doesn’t just benchmark your link between your home, and the ISP, it benchmarks the speed across all the links between your home, and wherever the speed test server is. That can (and usually does) cross a number of different ISP’s networks. I can test from my place to several speed test servers supposedly located locally. I get very different results, depending on which one I choose.

      Of course, if you are connected on your home WiFi, there is a fair chance that your speed is impacted by RF interference from your neighbor’s WiFi networks, signal attenuation from the materials in the walls between where you are sitting and the WiFi router, all of which reduce performance.

      If you want to give your connection a fair test, plug your Mac directly into your router via Ethernet, and try several speed test servers that are supposed to be close to you. If it still sucks, complain to your provider!

      1. Verizon provides its own speed-test software, which connects to their own servers. They know I get about 3.5 Mbps down and tell me that is acceptable.

        They have no faster service in this market (again, these are not the boondocks–this is a top-ten growth city just outside a top-dozen population city, and I’m a mile from the center of town). The local cable company is also a monopoly and almost as bad. Most locals use a satellite service for TV. As mentioned, Netflix and AppleTV are barely viable at these speeds.

        Sometimes I dream I lived in a “backwards” country with a modern data superhighway, instead of Texas.

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