Print 13 comment(s) - last by Lifted.. on Jun 20 at 11:44 PM

Could Verizon be intentionally slowing Netflix streaming?

If you're having Netflix problems, Verizon may be the culprit. 

Giga Om recently reported that issues between Verizon and bandwidth provider Cogent Communications has resulted in slowed Netflix content delivery. Some problems reported by customers include buffering and pixelated images. 

Verizon and Cogent have had issues with peering, where two bandwidth providers exchange traffic for free. Verizon -- the last mile network -- and Cogent currently send and receive traffic to each other via peering at 10 locations.

The problem is that this traffic is ran through ports, which transfer data back and forth at about 10 gigabit per second. When these ports reach around 50 percent of their capacity, Internet providers employ more ports. However, Verizon is letting its ports that exchange traffic with Cogent fill up and degrade, with some at 100 percent of their capacity. 

Verizon told Cogent that this is occurring because of traffic from a "large video provider." Verizon never actually mentioned Netflix's name, but Dave Schaffer (CEO of Cogent) said that Netflix is a "big partner" for his company. 

Netflix traffic accounts for almost one out of every 3 bits (32.3 percent) sent downstream to users in North America.

It's interesting to note that Verizon owns 50 percent of Redbox, which is a video-over-the-Internet service that competes with Netflix. Some have accused Verizon of purposely slowing Netflix streaming in order to gain Redbox viewers. 

Just yesterday, reports started circulating that Verizon may try to be Canada's fourth major wireless carrier. Canada currently has three major carriers, including Rogers Communications, Telus Corp and BCE Inc's Bell. But it has been looking for a fourth to increase consumer choice and keep prices competitive. 

Source: Giga Om

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Is this illegal?
By voodoobunny on 6/19/2013 11:15:28 AM , Rating: 4
Forgive me for stating the obvious, but...

If Verizon is deliberately slowing down Netflix traffic, and they own a competing service, isn't that totally illegal? Couldn't they be opening themselves up to enormous legal issues by doing this?

Not to mention this could be incredibly bad PR for them, and a huge opportunity for all the other providers: "Switch to Cox/Comcast/Anyone Else. We won't slow down your Netflix streaming."

RE: Is this illegal?
By BRB29 on 6/19/2013 11:17:00 AM , Rating: 1
It is if you can prove it. The only person that can prove it is Verizon. They're not going to self-incriminate.

RE: Is this illegal?
By karimtemple on 6/19/2013 11:28:03 AM , Rating: 2
This is only true if the plaintiff's lawyers aren't good enough.

RE: Is this illegal?
By Solandri on 6/19/2013 2:36:30 PM , Rating: 3
If net neutrality were law, yes it'd be illegal.

As it's not currently law, Verizon can do whatever they want. If the customers don't like it, they can switch ISPs. (The fact that most municipalities in the U.S. are limited to one cable and one phone ISP is the primary reason I think net neutrality should be law. If both your cable and phone ISP do this, there's no way for you to protest their stupid policies by taking your dollars elsewhere.)

RE: Is this illegal?
By Lifted on 6/20/2013 11:44:20 PM , Rating: 2
This has nothing to do with net neutrality.

Verizon has an agreement to exchange data with Cogent. There is no law stating that Verizon must do this for free. Let Cogent go purchase a dozen 10Gb ports from Level 3.

Oh, but that will cost them money? Too bad. Not Verizon's problem. Verizon can terminate the peering with Cogent if they felt like it, but that would end up costing them more too. So they just refuse to commit any more bandwidth to Cogent and let Cogent go find it elsewhere.

By spamreader1 on 6/19/2013 11:01:03 AM , Rating: 5

By superstition on 6/20/2013 10:32:51 PM , Rating: 2
Install more tubes.

By kleinma on 6/19/2013 11:14:06 AM , Rating: 2
I have fios and netflix and haven't seen any issues streaming content and I do so during peak hours, almost nightly on my PC while I am working. My buddy has the same setup and says he does have issues recently. I do have constant problems streaming youtube over fios though.

RE: netflix
By Alexvrb on 6/19/2013 10:43:15 PM , Rating: 1
I blame Youtube (Google) on that issue. If I am watching an official video put up by a major outfit, like a new movie trailer, it streams perfectly even at 1080p. If I watch a video by some random guy, Youtube suddenly can't find the bandwidth to do even 720p in real time, let alone 1080p. This is especially true during peak usage. 480p and below are usually fine.

RE: netflix
By Reclaimer77 on 6/20/2013 2:45:58 AM , Rating: 2
Literally NEVER have seen what you're describing on Youtube.

If I watch a video by some random guy, Youtube suddenly can't find the bandwidth to do even 720p in real time, let alone 1080p

Uhhh yeaaaah, I think you're alone on that one man. It's either your ISP or something on your end that's the problem, 'cause it aint Youtube.

Money opens many doors.
By drycrust3 on 6/19/2013 12:18:25 PM , Rating: 2
When these ports reach around 50 percent of their capacity, Internet providers employ more ports. However, Verizon is letting its ports that exchange traffic with Cogent fill up and degrade, with some at 100 percent of their capacity.

If this is actually true, then it is pretty obvious what the problem is: money ... or rather the lack of it. Not knowing anything about either company, my guess is Verizon were told, when they initially signed the contract, that the traffic from Cogent was likely to be x for the next few years, so the 10 ports they agreed upon were ample. My guess is that instead of the traffic from Cogent being "x" it's closer to "3x", and Verizon isn't getting revenue from Cogent to cover this. Cogent, on the other hand, should be getting extra revenue from Netflix to cover the burden of the extra traffic they generate, and they should be prepared to use it.

By nafhan on 6/19/2013 1:27:50 PM , Rating: 2
The peering they have set up with Google's CDN is terrible. I've got 50/25 FiOS and a 320x240 Youtube video would essentially not buffer until I used firewall rules to block Youtube's CDN (thus forcing connections to go straight to the source). Now, with the firewall rules in place, it's pretty quick. There's numerous posts on Verizon message boards and many other places of other people having this issue.

The root of the problem is that Verizon is "forgetting" that they're a last mile network provider and that their users are ASKING for this data. Thus the peering should probably be much more in Cogent's favor, and Verizon is probably trying to double dip here (i.e. getting paid by end users, and getting a peering advantage out of Cogent).

As an end user, this type of behavior is very frustrating to deal with when the service is otherwise excellent.

So what you're saying is...
By quiksilvr on 6/19/2013 10:55:09 AM , Rating: 1
"It seems as though my state-funded math degree has failed me. Let the lashings commence." -- DailyTech Editor-in-Chief Kristopher Kubicki

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