Netflix is not afraid to hold its ground against Verizon’s cease and desist attack, defending its right to inform customers about ISPs network performance when it comes to streaming Netflix content. In a letter to Verizon obtained by Quartz, Netflix general counsel David Hyman attacked the Internet provider, saying that Verizon is at fault for the poor performance some of their mutual customers experience, not Netflix.
Hyman explained that the Internet performance-related messages it shows consumers (like the one above) are part of its “ongoing transparency efforts to let consumers know their Netflix experience is being affected by congestion on their broadband provider’s network.” Netflix is letting customers know that Verizon’s network is crowded, having determined Verizon performance by looking at how Verizon handles Netflix traffic at peak and non-peak times.
“We are testing this type of messaging across the U.S. with multiple providers,” he said, adding that Verizon tried to “shift blame for our customer’s experience on the Verizon network ‘squarely to Netflixe itself’” thus disregarding its own responsibility to provide subscribers the service it promised.
“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,” Hyman wrote.
The full letter follows below.
I am in receipt of your letter dated June 5, 2014.
Your interpretation mischaracterizes our messaging. The message you cite to in your letter merely lets our consumers 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. The messaging is part of our ongoing transparency efforts to let consumers know their Netflix experience is being affected by congestion on their broadband provider’s network. We are testing this type of messaging across the US with multiple providers.
Furthermore, your attempt to shift blame for our customers’ experience on the Verizon network “squarely to Netflix itself” disregards Verizon’s responsibility to provide its customers with the service it has promised them. Verizon sells residential Internet access to its customers. In fact, it is my understanding that Verizon actually upsells customers to higher speed packages based on improved access to video services, including Netflix. Verizon’s unwillingness to augment its access ports to major Internet backbone providers is squarely Verizon’s fault. As an ISP, you sell your customers a connection to the Internet. To ensure that these customers get the level of service they pay you for, it is your responsibility to make sure your network, including your interconnection points, have sufficient capacity to accommodate the data requests made by those customers. 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.
As you are well aware, Netflix, for more than two years, through its Open Connect Program, has been willing to bring the data ISP subscribers request directly to any network for free, including Verizon. Despite our willingness to do so, you have chosen not to participate in the Open Connect Program, but instead have allowed your network connection to Netflix to degrade until we agreed to pay for augmented interconnection. We brought the data right to your doorstep…all you had to do was open your door.
We hope that our recent agreement will soon result in a better Netflix experience for our mutual customers. The current transparency test to which your letter relates is scheduled to end June 16 and we are evaluating rolling it out more broadly. Regardless of this specific test, we will continue to work on ways to communicate network conditions to our consumers. We’re also happy to work with you on ways to improve network transparency to our mutual customers.