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Verizon accuses Netflix of intentionally slowing its own traffic

Updated Jul 10th, 2014 2:57PM EDT
Verizon Vs. Netflix Traffic

This is something we’ve certainly never thought of before: What if Netflix is intentionally make its own streaming services slow for some inexplicable reason? That’s what Verizon is telling us in a new blog post that was written in response to a customer who complained about getting poor Netflix performance on his home connection even though it was a 75Mbps FiOS connection. Verizon says that there was absolutely no congestion in its last-mile infrastructure, which only leaves one plausible explanation: Netflix and its transit provider partners were intentionally choosing suboptimal connections through which to send traffic.

“Netflix chose to attempt to deliver that traffic to Verizon through a few third-party transit providers with limited capacity over connections specifically to be used only for balanced traffic flows,” Verizon writes. “Netflix knew better. Netflix is responsible for either using connections that can carry the volume of traffic it is sending, or working out arrangements with its suppliers so they can handle the volumes. As we’ve made clear before, we regularly negotiate reasonable commercial arrangements with transit providers or content providers to ensure a level of capacity that accommodates their volume of traffic.”

So why would Netflix intentionally do something that would give its own customers a poor experience? Verizon speculates that “for whatever reason (perhaps to cut costs and improve its profitability), Netflix did not make arrangements to deliver this massive amount of traffic through connections that can handle it.”

There’s some important background information we need to add here. Verizon and Netflix reached a peering agreement earlier this year in which Netflix agreed to pay Verizon for better connections to its network that would be able to handle bigger traffic loads. Despite this, however, Netflix speeds on Verizon’s network have actually slowed down — even though when Netflix signed a similar deal to improve its connection to Comcast’s network, traffic quickly sped up.

This led Netflix to send out messages to Verizon customers letting them know that Verizon’s network was to blame for poor streaming quality. Verizon went absolutely berserk when Netflix did this and sent the company a cease and desist letter that threatened legal action if Netflix didn’t stop bashing its network.

And now this week, Verizon has gone a step further by accusing Netflix of intentionally choosing bad connections to its network for some odd purpose. We’ll be on the lookout for Netflix’s official response to this accusation and we’ll be sure to post it once it comes.

Prior to joining BGR as News Editor, Brad Reed spent five years covering the wireless industry for Network World. His first smartphone was a BlackBerry but he has since become a loyal Android user.