June 10, 2014
Netflix To Stop Posting Messages Blaming Slow Streaming Speeds On Verizon, Other ISPs
redOrbit Staff & Wire Reports - Your Universe Online
Netflix has agreed to temporarily stop sending messages blaming slow performance issues on Internet service providers such as Verizon, representatives from the video-streaming service announced in a blog entry posted on Monday.
According to the Associated Press, the move comes following a legal threat issued by Verizon last week, in which the New York-based broadband and telecommunications company had threatened to sue Netflix unless it abandoned its ISP Speed Index.
Netflix, which had launched the speed notification program “to provide transparency and help consumers understand the Internet access they’re actually getting from their ISP,” said that the “small scale test” which launched in early May would end on June 16. However, Joris Evers, a member of the company’s communications team, noted that it could return at a later date, as the firm was planning to “evaluate” a broader rollout in the future.
Last Thursday, Verizon issued a “cease and desist” letter to Netflix for its messages, claiming that they unfairly pointed the finger at the ISP when streaming video quality and/or speed became diminished, according to redOrbit.com’s Peter Suciu. In response, Verizon argued that such messages might lead customers to believe that any attempt to view videos using the service could have similar results.
“As Netflix knows, there are many different factors that can affect traffic on the internet, including choices by Netflix in how to connect to its customers and deliver content to them, interconnection between multiple networks, and consumer in-home issues such as in-home wiring, Wi-Fi, and device settings and capabilities,” the broadband and telecommunication company’s public policy chief Randal Milch reportedly wrote in that letter.
“Some broadband providers argue that our actions, and not theirs, are causing a degraded Netflix experience,” Evers countered. “Netflix does not purposely select congested routes. We pay some of the world’s largest transit networks to deliver Netflix video right to the front door of an ISP. Where the problem occurs is at that door… when the broadband provider hasn’t provided enough capacity to accommodate the traffic their customer requested.”
The announcement comes one day before the deadline set by Verizon in the cease-and-desist letter, during which the ISP demanded evidence supporting the claims that it was responsible for the slower streaming speeds, said Washington Post reporter Brian Fung. Netflix also reported that Verizon FiOS had dropped two places in the carrier rankings since April, falling behind Windstream and Frontier DSL in the speed rankings.
Netflix officials said that they will now analyze the results of the ISP Speed Index trial to determine whether or not users contacted customer service more or less often, as well as whether or not they watched more or less video during this time, Fung noted. The video streaming service accounts for nearly one-third of all peak-hour Internet traffic in the US, VentureBeat’s Tom Cheredar added.
The Associated Press contacted Verizon for comment, but had not received a response as of press time. Similarly, the Washington Post, citing a source within the company who requested anonymity due to the sensitive nature of the issue, noted that it was not certain at this time if Netflix would issue an official response to Verizon’s cease-and-desist letter.