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Netflix Won't Back Down on Blaming ISPs for Congestion
by Karl Bode 10:44AM Tuesday Jun 10 2014
Yesterday in a blog post Netflix stated that the ISP-blaming congestion warnings warnings Verizon is threatening to sue over were part of a test Netflix is running that the company already planned to conclude on June 16. "We will evaluate rolling it out more broadly," stated Netflix. Somehow, this was construed by the media as Netflix agreeing to stop the warnings, though a legal letter sent to Verizon suggests otherwise.

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In a letter to Verizon (pdf) by Netflix General Counsel David Hyman, Hyman says Verizon's recent complaints "mischaracterizes" Netflix's efforts at greater transparency when it comes to causes of streaming performance issues.

The messages, Hyman states, "merely let our customers know that the Verizon network is crowded. We have determined this by examining the difference between the speed at which the Verizon network handles Netflix traffic at peak versus non-peak times."

Netflix again states that the congestion Verizon customers see is intentionally caused by Verizon's failure to upgrade peering capacity in order to nab direct interconnection fees. "We brought the data right to your doorstep...all you had to do was open your door," argues the company. Hyman also notes that Verizon has refused to participate in Netflix's free Open Connect CDN platform, which would improve performance for Netflix users.

"To try to shift blame to us for performance issues arising from interconnection congestion is like blaming drivers on a bridge for traffic jams when you're the one who decided to leave three lanes closed during rush hour," said Netflix.

"Regardless of this specific test, we will continue to work on ways to communicate network conditions to our consumers," states Netflix's lawyer. "We're also happy to work with you on ways to improve network transparency to our mutual customers."

Netflix did not provide Verizon with a list of all impacted customers and a technical justification for each subscriber message received, something Verizon stated would result in legal action. It's up to Verizon whether this proceeds to court, though as noted previously, if Netflix's claim that Verizon's intentionally letting peering points saturate to make a buck is true, the telco may not want the kind of transparency that could come with a court battle.

Netflix struck a controversial direct interconnection deal with Verizon back in April, but consumers have yet to reap any benefits from the deal. Verizon's FiOS Netflix streaming performance actually dropped two spots in the latest ISP rankings.

118 comments .. click to read

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Hazelwood, MO

2 recommendations

reply to openbox9

Re: So have they signed an agreement or not?

Yes, completely and I thank you for it. Keep wiggling though, it is fun to see. Netflix and their providers don't push a single thing to Comcast. They deliver the bits that Comcast customers request just like this website, just like Spotify, just like any other web service.

Peering to get internet access or peering to be a backbone provider is different. I will give you that, but either way they are both peering and ISPs do not get free peering EVER. PERIOD. They sell their connections with the entire purpose of receiving a lot more traffic than sending and thus bring nothing to the table that would make any backbone provider in the world want to peer settlement free with them. You start an ISP right now and the first thing you will need to do is find backbone providers for YOU TO PAY so that you can participate on the internet.

Comcast is an ISP first and foremost. They just so happen to be so large that they can provide "some" backbone services in their limited footprint. Regardless a lot of the traffic that enters their network enters it at the request of their ISP subscribers and that is the problem with your argument.

You and Comcast are trying to lump the ISP traffic in with "peering traffic" and are claiming it is out of balance because Comcast's ISP traffic has grown so much that it has thrown things out of balance. Well of course it is out of balance, you sell 50mb dwn / 10mb up connections and use your TOS to prevent your subscribers from providing services to make the traffic flow the other way.


3 recommendations

reply to Skippy25
What happens if "net neutrality" doesn't change and the Internet continues operating as it has since inception? Netflix can, gasp, always force its transit providers to uphold their agreements and do what needs to be done to deliver the bits.

Ashburn, VA

2 recommendations

reply to serge87
said by serge87:

Verizon VP David Young told CNET, "We can't just snap our fingers and the network is upgraded. We need new facilities. We have to do the equipment engineering. Build it and test it. We are doing all of that right now. And it should be completed during this year." When finished, Netflix's connection to the Verizon network will supply "adequate capacity to satisfy the needs of their subscribers."

It sounds like they are simply doing their job. What about the needs of Verizon's paying customers? Today their customers are requesting Netflix videos, but tomorrow it might be something else. The ISP can't always go screaming to the companies delivering the content to their front door and expect a handout for interconnections.

It doesn't make sense that this responsibility should fall onto the companies sending the data. They already paid for transit. Again, a captive customer base with large ISPs that enjoy market dominance allows for them to extort and double dip. This does not happen anywhere else with competition available.


Centereach, NY

2 recommendations

reply to cableties

Re: Forum

said by cableties:

Anyone with 300/150 having issues? THAT would be the ultimate...

Yes, I had 300/150 and couldn't stream Netflix above 288/384 resolution. I downgraded my package because Verizon simply wasn't delivering and there was no way I was being that much of a sucker.

Now that I've downgraded my Netflix experience hasn't changed one bit. Paying a huge premium for speedy provisioning simply doesn't matter if Verizon won't provide fast links outside their network.


Centereach, NY

2 recommendations

reply to AVonGauss

Re: So have they signed an agreement or not?

Maybe they'd rather see Netflix "go away" than collect money from them.

Boynton Beach, FL

2 recommendations

reply to UnnDunn
To keep with the conspiracy theory that the ISPs are holding poor little NetFlix hostage for the hoards of cash the transit deal is going to bring them...

Why would Verizon drag their feet when they likely don't get paid fully until a certain SLA level is reached?


Centereach, NY

3 recommendations

reply to tpkatl

Re: Hilarious letter!

It may be more of a threat. Consider the dirty laundry that would come out and how people would feel about Verizon if what they were doing became general public knowledge supported by internal evidence.

To me, it reads, "keep it up Verizon and you're going to have a huge PR distaster on your hands". Similar to the bridge scandal.

Complete Your Transaction


2 recommendations

reply to ITGeeks

Re: Congestion

said by ITGeeks:

Well if the real issue is congestion, VZ could start a sign-up block and really put a damper on Netflix. But then again; they'd cry about that too.

Consumers are hoping for that extreme action as it would be the last straw and realization by everyone that net neutrality is needed else the guys that own the pipes decide who wins and who doesn't. Dumb pipe providers should remain dumb pipe providers.


2 recommendations


According to northeast FiOS users on the forums here, SuperHD is still impossible on a 50/25 connection. What gives Verizon? You know a large portion of your (paying) customers use Netflix so give them a decent connection already.


Pittsburgh, PA
·Verizon FiOS

3 recommendations

reply to ITALIAN926

Re: Cant always apply

said by ITALIAN926:

In circumstances that the customers smartTV or blu-ray is 200 feet from a router, or there is wireless interference, giving them poor throughput, how does Netflix justify stating that the problem is VERIZONS NETWORK? Just sayin...

It's my understanding that they only use the customer's connection as a trigger and then go on to see if a large number of other customers in the area are having similar problems in addition to some other metrics. If only a small subset of customers are having problems because of their home connection, they shouldn't receive a message stating that it's the ISP.