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Verizon accused of throttling Netflix traffic [updated]

June 19th, 2013 at 11:30 AM
Verizon Netflix Traffic Throttling Accusations

Verizon seems to have found itself in a fresh net neutrality controversy. GigaOM reported earlier this week that bandwidth provider Cogent Communications accused Verizon of “allowing the peer connections” between the two companies “to degrade,” which results in slower wireline traffic for end users. Cogent CEO Dave Schaffer told GigaOM that Verizon says that it’s not adding more ports to its peer connections with Cogent because it’s moving traffic for an unspecified video provider that Schaffer believes to be Netflix.

“Over the past year Netflix has become a big partner for us,” he said. “This is a business model problem, not an engineering problem.”

Network World’s Colin Neagle, meanwhile, notes that some Verizon wireline users have been complaining about the quality of their Netflix streams declining despite the fact that they “didn’t change anything on their devices that would cause performance issues.” Neagle also speculates that Verizon might be motivated to slow Netflix’s traffic to give its own competing Redbox Instant video streaming service a boost.

Verizon denies that it throttles traffic for any of its customers but hasn’t yet commented specifically on whether it is intentionally letting Cogent’s peer connections degrade because of its partnership with Netflix or any other major video provider.

UPDATE: Verizon has officially responded to Cogent’s allegations and is claiming that this is a fairly routine story about a business dispute that has been blown out of proportion. In particular, Verizon says that “Cogent is not compliant with one of the basic and long-standing requirements for most settlement-free peering arrangements: that traffic between the providers be roughly in balance.” In other words, Verizon says that when Cogent’s Netflix traffic is out of balance, then it’s Cogent’s responsibility to pay Verizon for transit.

“This is a fairly boring story about a bandwidth provider that is unhappy that they are out of balance and will have to make alternative arrangements for capacity enhancements, just like any other interconnecting ISP,” Verizon writes.

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