This morning, we noted how
Netflix's all-too-familiar buffering warning now specifically blames Verizon when Verizon customer Netflix streams start to struggle. That hasn't made Verizon particularly happy, the company this afternoon penning a blog post
that claims Netflix is engaged in a "PR stunt" that's "deliberately misleading." In the post, Verizon unsurprisingly blames Netflix for network performance issues:
The source of the problem 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 ISP’s network.
But it's not clear it's that simple, and we already know the congestion's happening on the edge of Verizon's network -- not in
it. Both Netflix and transit operators like Cogent and Level 3 claim ISPs have been intentionally letting transit links saturate
to create a new revenue stream, kill the idea of settlement free peering, and extract the kind of "troll toll" on content companies these same exact ISPs have publicly and loudly been dreaming about for more than a decade
Verizon doesn't address any of the real technical specifics surrounding Netflix (or Level3 or Cogent's) accusations, though big red does accuse Netflix of using its customers as "pawns" in business disputes:
It is sad that Netflix is willing to deliberately mislead its customers so they can be used as pawns in business negotiations and regulatory proceedings. It would be more accurate for Netflix’s message screen to say: “The path that we have chosen to reach Verizon’s network is crowded right now."
Peering fights happen all the time, insists AT&T, Comcast and Verizon, and this is a boring, run of the mill business feud over ordinary peering. ISPs (and a small minority of analysts) insist that the massive Netflix performance hit only seen by users of the largest ISPs
over the last six months -- then magically resolved once these companies get paid -- is just coincidental. In a blog post last April
, Netflix's Ken Florence argued how this isn't just peering as usual, and how the deals they're being forced to strike aren't the same thing as routine transit.
Whatever side of the debate you fall on it's technically impossible to prove fault one way or the other, as the details of these agreements and raw transit performance data is kept confidential from us plebeians. It would be the job of regulators to ensure no anti-competitive behavior is afoot here, assuming we had regulators interested in digging into these claims and protecting consumers.