Advanced Television

Netflix: “Your service is being slowed by Verizon”

June 5, 2014

The NYT reports that a journalist streaming a show on Netflix noticed an on-screen message from the company blaming Verizon for congestion that was slowing the stream.

The journalist, Yuri Victor, a designer and developer at Vox Media, posted a message on Twitter on Tuesday with a screen shot of the Netflix message, which read: “The Verizon network is crowded right now. Adjusting video for smoother playback.”

Netflix said the message was simply one of many ways the company is testing for notifying its customers about how their viewing experience is affected by their Internet service provider’s network.

“The current test started in early May and covers a few hundred thousand U.S. members who are served by various I.S.P.s,” Jonathan Friedland, chief communications officer for Netflix, said in a statement. He said it was similar to the company’s monthly chart showing average speeds connecting Netflix with consumers through a variety of broadband providers.

To Verizon, the whole thing is “a P.R. stunt,” a company blog post said. “Netflix’s statement about the Verizon network is not only inaccurate, it is deliberately misleading…The source of the congestion is almost certainly NOT congestion in Verizon’s network. Instead, the problem is most likely congestion on the connection that Netflix has chosen to use to reach Verizon’s network. Of course, Netflix is solely responsible for choosing how their traffic is routed into any I.S.P.s network.”

A few weeks ago, Verizon and Netflix agreed that Netflix could pay Verizon to connect directly to its network, creating a faster connection that bypasses the go-between that carries most content through the Internet. Netflix previously entered one of those deals with Comcast. The interconnection framework is not completely in place, so some Netflix content is still delivered to Verizon customers the old way.

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