Have U.S. Internet users’ worst fears just been realized? A new report from iScan Online programmer David Raphael claims to confirm that Verizon, which you might recall helped lead the charge against net neutrality regulations, has begun limiting the bandwidth utilized by certain websites for its FiOS Internet subscribers. In a blog post on Wednesday, Raphael shared a troubling account of issues that his company had been experiencing with service slowdowns. After digging into the problem he finally contacted Verizon customer support, which seemingly confirmed that the ISP is throttling bandwidth used by some cloud service providers including Amazon AWS, which supports huge services including Netflix and countless others. As BGR has learned, however, this is in fact not the case.
“Towards the end of January, the president of our company – iScan Online, Inc., was complaining that our service was experiencing major slowdowns,” Raphael wrote in a post on his personal blog. “I investigated the issue, but I couldn’t find anything wrong with our production environment. We were stumped.”
He then noticed a similar service slowdown one evening at his home, and that Netflix service in the evenings had recently been severely degraded. Raphael quickly connected the dots and realized both locations use Verizon’s FiOS service for Internet access, so he ran some tests.
Initial testing found that data speeds when connecting to an Amazon AWS S3 URL were just 40KBps at his house. When connecting to his office just one mile away via VPN, speeds to the same URL were 5,000KBps despite the fact that both locations used the same FiOS service.
So Raphael contacted Verizon customer care via chat in an effort to see what the problem might be. After pressing the representative for more than 30 minutes, Raphael apparently got him to admit that Verizon is throttling service to Amazon AWS and other cloud service providers.
The following is a screenshot of part of their conversation:
“Frankly, I was surprised he admitted to this,” Raphael wrote. “I’ve since tested this almost every day for the last couple of weeks. During the day – the bandwidth is normal to AWS. However, after 4pm or so – things get slow.”
The evidence is indeed fairly damning and Verizon’s customer care rep didn’t help matters with his confirmation, however BGR has confirmed that the ISP is in fact not throttling Amazon AWS bandwidth or service to and from any other cloud provider.
“We treat all traffic equally, and that has not changed,” a Verizon spokesperson told BGR in an emailed statement. “Many factors can affect the speed a customer’s experiences for a specific site, including, that site’s servers, the way the traffic is routed over the Internet, and other considerations. We are looking into this specific matter, but the company representative was mistaken. We’re going to redouble our representative education efforts on this topic.”
It is still unclear exactly what was causing the issues that Raphael described, but it’s apparently not any form of bandwidth prioritization. Instead, the issue may relate to congestion specific to the Amazon servers or connections that Raphael was testing, but nothing has been confirmed by Amazon.
UPDATE: Are you concerned about bandwidth prioritization now that net neutrality is dead? The team behind this site pinged us in response to this article, and they’re crowd-sourcing speed test results in an effort to determine whether or not the net is really still neutral.