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Netflix says that its “transparency campaign” will end later this month

Well, that didn’t last long. Netflix recently began throwing up warning messages for its streaming customers to alert them when their ISP’s network was congested. The first targets of the warning messages were customers running on AT&T and Verizon networks, and this is what those customers saw during periods of heavy congestion:

Verizon throttling message
 
Interestingly, Verizon customers will still seeing slow network speeds on Netflix despite the fact that the latter is paying the former for a “paid peering” arrangement that is supposed to alleviate bandwidth chokeholds.
 
Following Netflix’s decision to display the warning messages, Verizon threatened legal action, stating in a letter, “In light of this, Verizon demands that Netflix immediately cease and desist from providing any such further 'notices' to users of the Verizon network.”
 
Netflix responded, stating:
 
This is about consumers not getting what they paid for from their broadband provider.  We are trying to provide more transparency, just like we do with ISP Speed Index, and Verizon is trying to shut down that discussion.
 
Netflix is now taking a more measured approach, stating that its “transparency campaign” to alert customers about reduced network speeds is “scheduled to end on June 16,” although it could "evaluate rolling it out more broadly" in the future. Whether the “scheduled” end was already predetermined by the company brass or a result of Verizon’s legal threats remains to be seen. However, Netflix isn’t about to let the matter rest completely, as the company goes on to state:
 
Some broadband providers argue that our actions, and not theirs, are causing a degraded Netflix experience. Netflix does not purposely select congested routes. We pay some of the world’s largest transit networks to deliver Netflix video right to the front door of an ISP. Where the problem occurs is at that door -- the interconnection point -- when the broadband provider hasn’t provided enough capacity to accommodate the traffic their customer requested.
 
Some large US ISPs are erecting toll booths, providing sufficient capacity for services requested by their subscribers to flow through only when those services pay the toll. In this way, ISPs are double-dipping by getting both their subscribers and Internet content providers to pay for access to each other.
 
It remains to see how this war or words will play out in the end, but Netflix’s own internal data shows that both AT&T and Verizon are nowhere near the top when it comes to average data speeds for U.S.-based Netflix streaming customers. In fact, Verizon DSL is dead last and even Verizon’s high-speed FiOS service could must no more than 10th place out of a total 16 ISP services that were measured for the month of May:

Source: Netflix



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A different approach is needed.
By quiksilvr on 6/9/2014 2:31:46 PM , Rating: 3
As a customer under Comcast, I did appreciate the fact that Netflix took a financial hit in order to provide better streaming quality for me as well as millions of other consumers.

Unfortunately, this move spat in the face of net neutrality and anything that Netflix does from this point on seems a bit hypocritical. They never should have ever agreed to this and instead should have pushed the FCC to regulate Comcast and other ISPs from charging anything on top of the bandwidth promised to us.

In short, this approach was not only flawed, but is giving the impression that Netflix did it to get a one up over other streaming services and is only using net neutrality to gain soem PR. I will argue that this did open the discussion and the FCC appears to be thinking along the lines of this century, but that does not excuse the fact that this is a choppy start to net neutrality regulations.




RE: A different approach is needed.
By amanojaku on 6/9/2014 2:46:48 PM , Rating: 4
That's not how I view it at all. At the moment, poor connections to sites are something of a he-said-she-said. Who can prove what really happened? Spuke hit the nail on the head with this comment:
quote:
No Netflix would've gotten crapped on because your average person would only see Netflix as being the problem because "everything else works fine". They HAD to pay up and make that public so their customers would blame their ISPs instead.
We all know how glacially slow the government moves on anything. Even if it were to investigate (doubtful, considering all the telecom lobbying) years would go by before anything concrete would come of it. If my service wasn't as cheap as it is I would have canceled. I haven't viewed anything in months because I can barely get anything to stream, so I'm paying Netflix for nothing. Actually, I'm paying to keep the company going until network issues are resolved.

And I know it's not Netflix. Almost all of my streaming sites are slow; those that aren't start to slow down after I use them enough, almost as if the ISP is throttling the places I visit the most. I noticed a similar thing with file downloads and the like. If it's a large amount of data, after a few days or weeks the experience degrades. Foreigners who visit those same sites never have problems.


RE: A different approach is needed.
By Motoman on 6/9/2014 3:23:49 PM , Rating: 4
All of which is why, aside from any other arguments, we desperately *need* real net neutrality.

Because the average person *is* going to blame Netflix. Or YouTube, or whatever. Because they don't know any better. The ISPs can f%ck with your data with impunity, because they know they're likely to escape the user's wrath to begin with, and also because it's perfectly legal for them to do so...so why wouldn't they? Especially when they have a financial interest in doing so - like Verizon with Redbox. There's every reason in the world for ISPs to manipulate your bandwidth with extreme prejudice.

The FCC et al need to get off their a$$es and actually create and enforce true net neutrality. All ISPs should be require by law to treat all data equally, and allow all data to go through their "pipes" without any bias of any kind.

Netflix set a horrifically bad precedent by paying Comcast for special treatment. The only way that can be undone is by regulation. Which we need desperately. Now.


RE: A different approach is needed.
By inperfectdarkness on 6/9/2014 4:13:59 PM , Rating: 3
Well that won't happen any time soon. That "hope and change" ya'll voted for resulted in the FCC being headed up by a guy who has spent his entire career lobbying for telecoms. If I weren't aware this was real life, the biblical incompetence that I see would be quite funny.


By Motoman on 6/9/2014 4:59:53 PM , Rating: 1
Ya'll? I sure as f%ck didn't vote for the guy. That's just another symptom of lobbying though...which should be illegal.

Anyway, I also stumbled across this...apparently Verizon is still continuing to throttle Netflix after they paid their bribe anyway. Probably has something to do with Netflix calling them out on it...

http://consumerist.com/2014/06/09/netflix-speeds-o...


RE: A different approach is needed.
By SpartanJet on 6/9/2014 10:32:23 PM , Rating: 1
Like things would have been better with Romney or any one of those Republican clowns? Awwwwww shucky ducky!


By inperfectdarkness on 6/10/2014 5:13:45 PM , Rating: 2
You know, when our propagandist in chief got re-elected, my sole thought was, "well, if there's ANY good that might come of this---it's that we may finally get net neutrality."

You had ONE job. ONE. And he couldn't even do that right.

P.S.
Why does me calling out our elected leaders for their bombastic incompetence automatically mean that I like the GOP? If that's what you think, then your bi-polar political views are what's the problem--even more than the impotent dummies that get elected.


By brucek2 on 6/9/2014 5:28:20 PM , Rating: 3
quote:
"Who can prove what really happened?"

The major interconnects can. Take for example this blog post from Level 3, which appears to have the hard data to show the US cable companies are failing to provide a sufficiently wide front door to take all the data that is being delivered to them:

http://blog.level3.com/global-connectivity/observa...

Damningly, it also shows that they are the only types of ISPs to do that. It says the ones who function in a truly competitive market place and/or who don't have a video business they want to protect aren't doing this.

Not in this article, and I don't have sources handy right now, but I feel I've seen numerous credible reports showing that:

- cable company ISP businesses are running at high profit margins
- the cost to them for additional intake bandwidth is modest relative to the revenues & margins being provided by their customers

I feel the root issue here is lack of competition. In too many cases they face no real competition so can get away with one-sided practices that would not stick in a truly free marketplace.


By NellyFromMA on 6/10/2014 10:04:06 AM , Rating: 2
Well, PR campaigns can mean a lot and aren't necessarily bravado. The digital age has shown us that intelligent use of PR can influence quite a bit in a conversation.

That said, I don't view their actions as a vain PR campaign as what typically comes to mind either. I certainly don't think the vast majority of on-lookers, tech saavy or not, believe Netflix is doing this as some sort of shallow PR campaign for attention.

On the contrary, ISPs want to portray this picture, but it fails a simple common-sense test.

No, Netflix is being exploited by ISPs because many ISPs offer the very media Netflix stands to supplement. Typically, ISPs should feel somewhat interested in appeasing the customers. However, in America, ISPs need not cater to their consumers.

They already have a lock on the market, and as long as they lobby as hard and as often as they do, and do the governments dirty work for them (or store it for them , depending on the context) there is an underlying quid pro quo that will not cease as it stands.

So, the ISPs do what they have essentially always done; dig in their heels and commit to non-enhancement of infrastructure unless SOMEONE ELSE pays them to do it, all at our expense no matter how you look at it.

I think even less saavy consumers understand Netflix was charged more because it infringes on ISPs other initiatives, even if the reality is a bit more complex than that. That's a real problem for ISPs because its hard to fight perception.

However, IMO, its going to take a lot more than that to cause a real storm here. Netflix has to find like-minded entities and form a real fight for net-neutrality here. They are too small to fight the big ISPs on their own and somehow must leverage the overlapping consumer base to exert the point as well as perhaps legal avenues and, yes, even PR campaigns where appropriate.

Getting the public to understand that they are being manipulated by ISPs is key to momentum shifting, which is critical.


By karimtemple on 6/9/2014 3:22:24 PM , Rating: 3
This analysis makes no sense. Netflix can't make Comcast do anything, so Netflix was going to stay terrible on Comcast unless they paid up.

People keep agreeing with you that they should have left it terrible and just whined about it, martyring the quality of their own service to The Cause. This of course sounds idiotic.

The only other option was to turn off their new video quality enhancements. Guess they didn't prefer that option.


By random2 on 6/9/2014 6:41:16 PM , Rating: 2
"They never should have ever agreed to this and instead should have pushed the FCC to regulate Comcast and other ISPs from charging anything on top of the bandwidth promised to us."

Unfortunately they have hundreds of thousands of customers (growing daily) they need to service effectively TODAY, along with immediate plans to stream higher bitrate content to their customers.

This is like the old Pilot training adage. "Whatever happens inflight, concentrate first on keeping the aircraft flying and in the air, then worry about whatever other problems there may be"


By Morg72 on 6/9/2014 10:44:30 PM , Rating: 2
Financial hit? IIRC Netflix raised their rates to cover the cost of these "bribes". Their customers are taking the hit, have to remember that companies always find a way to transfer costs to their customers.


RE: A different approach is needed.
By Mike Acker on 6/11/2014 7:54:40 AM , Rating: 2
the internet was not intended for massive broadcast streaming. we need to change the business model now. Move ISPs to Title II and price the 'Net in the same manner as electricity or water: pay for what you use.

there is no reason ordinary users should subsidize streamers


By NaughtyGeek on 6/11/2014 12:09:54 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
there is no reason ordinary users should subsidize streamers


http://www.cnet.com/news/netflix-youtube-gobble-up...

http://www.dailytech.com/Study+Video+Will+Account+...

It would seem streamers are "ordinary users."


Embarrasing.
By overlandpark on 6/9/2014 3:57:02 PM , Rating: 2
This will only get worse with future mergers.




RE: Embarrasing.
By roykahn on 6/9/2014 5:07:43 PM , Rating: 2
It's OK, the free market will sort things out. Milton Friedman said so.


RE: Embarrasing.
By Morg72 on 6/9/14, Rating: 0
RE: Embarrasing.
By room200 on 6/10/2014 1:00:18 AM , Rating: 4
Bullsh!t. It's not government intrusion; it's unfettered capitalism that has a basis in the conservative mantra of regulate nothing and de-regulate everything. Now you want the government to step in? Well, the oligarchs have you just where they want you. Without big bucks you have no voice.

But, isn't that the way you guys always wanted it to be? Truth be told, you only want people who think like yourselves to be able to vote, but the problem with that is the kinds of things you're seeing will only get worse with these "money is speech" types. You think they'll care about what YOU think? lol


RE: Embarrasing.
By room200 on 6/10/2014 1:09:50 AM , Rating: 3
Furthermore, as far as the housing crash goes you have no idea what you're talking about and you're only parroting Faux News talking points. The sub-prime meltdown had NOTHING to do with government intervention. The majority of sub-prime loans were handled by private mortgage companies which were not affected by the CRA. more than 84 percent of the sub-prime mortgages were from private companies who engaged in shady mortagage binds, derivatives, CDOs, etc. and only 6% of higher prced loans can be attributed the CRA (which was passed in 1977). All of that was Wall Street, not "Fannie and Freddie".


RE: Embarrasing.
By NellyFromMA on 6/10/2014 10:06:00 AM , Rating: 2
Nothing about the ISP market is free in America. Perhaps if it was, like it is in Europe and Asia, then this mess would sort itself out (or not occur in the first place).


RE: Embarrasing.
By roykahn on 6/10/2014 5:27:53 PM , Rating: 2
The whole notion of free markets is BS. Nor can it exist, nor is it good. The basic assumptions of such economics are BS, so you can safely throw out most of what it extols. Information is not free and available to all and can never be. Society's elite crave information imbalance and it's how many people base their professions

If you want the ISP market to be "free" then please allow deceptive advertising, ISP contracts that trap customers and ensure the ISP always gets its way, inadequate problem resolutions, collusion, no transparency or accountability, etc. A theoretical free market mostly favors those who are the greediest, deceptive, and ruthless. The government (in theory again) is meant to represent the overall population and thus limit the chances of the consumer getting screwed.


another graph
By synapse46 on 6/9/2014 3:52:09 PM , Rating: 2
Just came across this, has more to do with comcast..

http://knowmore.washingtonpost.com/2014/04/25/this...




RE: another graph
By someguy123 on 6/9/2014 4:42:43 PM , Rating: 2
This graph is much more damning. Look at that huge comcast throttling before netflix paid them off and the gigantic rebound. That's insane. Very obvious throttling from verizon and AT&T as well.

From the looks of it, paying off verizon just stopped them from getting throttled even further rather than getting full performance.


RE: another graph
By Grimer21 on 6/9/2014 4:51:08 PM , Rating: 2
Wow, that is just crazy. This whole net neutrality argument is probably the first topic that I've truly wanted to take action for and sign petitions, educate family/friends/random-guy-on-the-street about, or picket outside the capitol if I had to. That graph you posted has totally sparked my fire again... LET'S TAKE IT TO THE STREETS!


By amanojaku on 6/9/2014 2:30:01 PM , Rating: 2
Your own source link has this quote:
quote:
As part of this transparency campaign, we started a small scale test in early May that lets consumers know, while they’re watching Netflix, that their experience is degraded due to a lack of capacity into their broadband provider’s network. We are testing this across the U.S. wherever there is significant and persistent network congestion This test is scheduled to end on June 16. We will evaluate rolling it out more broadly.
It's an ambiguous statement, but it could mean Netflix is just getting started shaming ISPs.




Netflix is fail
By Shadowmaster625 on 6/9/14, Rating: -1
RE: Netflix is fail
By Spuke on 6/9/2014 4:02:50 PM , Rating: 4
See, people blaming Netflix instead of their ISPs. This is a PRIME example right here.


RE: Netflix is fail
By amanojaku on 6/9/2014 7:53:50 PM , Rating: 2
Sounds like Shadowmaster is just trolling. He/she/it/they posted this dreck in another article, and anyone with half a brain could spot the errors it it.
quote:
The problem with netflix is that the buffering just downright sucks balls.
BS. I tried Netflix on a Wii, which has at most 88MB of RAM, and it never had a buffering problem. As long as the connection is fine, it plays at 480p. Obviously, a PC has much more RAM to spare for a larger buffer. Oh, and the Wii works over Wi-Fi, on a second floor, 60' away from the router. The connection is flaky as all hell, and I get 480p.
quote:
It can and will simply stop once it runs out of buffer. It may or may not even bother to pick back up where it left off. Yes, it can and will just sit there stuck at a certain % until you refresh the page. It's always been like this, and that's always been a very bad thing.
More BS. The player will attempt to connect to the servers for several minutes before giving up. If your connection is out for that long and fails many times you can't watch a video, anyway.
quote:
Their horrible coding has been covered up by many people's multi-dozen gigabit connections.
Really? I mean, REALLY? I'm sure he/she/it/they was being facetious, but the average Netflix customer has less than 20Mbits/sec of bandwidth. And Netflix points out that the average stream is 2.5Mbit, with the max at 5-6Mbit.
quote:
But you should not need a 20 mbps pipe to watch a 480p video. Which gets me to the other serious flaw of netfux: its horrible compression. I have 700MB movies that look just as good if not outright better than netflix's piggish 2+ GB files.
Sigh.... this idiot... I don't have 20Mbit available to me, and I've seen movies in 720p when they're available.

Not that I'd need it. Long before Netflix streaming offered more than 480p I watched several movies on it and was blown away by the quality. One film in particular, "Water" from the Elements Trilogy, stands out as a reference for 480p video quality. It put some of my DVDs to shame.

I also saw "Thor", which I believed streamed at 720p, and it was nearly identical to what I saw in the theater. I'm not saying this is full HD quality (it's 720p), but I know for a fact it's better than Shadowmaster's 700MB movies. Unless those "movies" are 10 minutes.

I want to believe Shadowmaster is not that stupid, and is just a troll.


RE: Netflix is fail
By someguy123 on 6/9/2014 4:38:31 PM , Rating: 2
Sounds like you're getting packet loss. Never had a problem with stalled video streams, though it is true that netflix's algo drops download speed depending on percent downloaded and speed of download. Every streaming site does this, though, mainly because it tends to work the vast majority of the time without stalling and also because it frees up tons of bandwidth for other users, avoids wasting bandwidth if a user closes the stream, and saves bandwidth when users decide to seek. Netflix's compression ratios aren't great mainly because higher complexity encoding and decoding is more processor intensive and it would reduce performance for many users still on their laptops from ten years ago.


RE: Netflix is fail
By hpglow on 6/9/2014 5:27:08 PM , Rating: 2
The amount of content allowed to be buffered is not decided by Netflix. Their copyright holders dictate the amount of data you may have precached in memory.

Your problem sounds like it is your client device. I have an vartery of client devices ios, android, smart tv, ps3 and none do what you describe. The TV has the worst netflix app and while rewinding does cause a good 30 to 40 sec delay it still works. The only time I get poor quality video is when my isp is being slow. Its not blu-ray quality but it beats down the quality of directv's broadcast and dtv on demand is even worse.


RE: Netflix is fail
By kamk44 on 6/10/2014 2:30:31 PM , Rating: 2
My TV also buffers a lot. That's why we typically pull up Netflix on a laptop and then send it to the TV with Chromecast. The interface on the PC is much better too than on the TV.


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