Netflix, in tandem with the release of its ISP Speed Index results for May, announced Monday that it will halt the test of on-screen messages that pin the blame for degraded streams on ISPs by name, a pilot program that quickly resulted in a cease-and-desist letter from Verizon Communications.
“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,” Netflix spokesman Joris Evers wrote in this blog post. “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.”
Verizon’s letter came after Yuri Victor of Vox Media tweeted a screenshot of a Netflix browser message that read: “The Verizon network is crowded right now. Adjusting video for smoother playback…” Verizon initially called it a “PR stunt” before issuing the cease and desist letter, which claimed that “Netflix’s false accusations have the potential to harm the Verizon brand in the marketplace…The impression that Netflix is falsely giving our customers is that the Verizon network is generally “crowded” and troublesome.” In the letter, Verizon also pointed the finger at Netflix, accusing the streaming giant of electing to send its traffic over congested routes.
“Netflix does not purposely select congested routes,” Evers wrote on Monday. “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.”
Netflix said it has reluctantly agreed to paid interconnection deals with Comcast and Verizon to ensure the quality of its streaming service while complaining that they are tantamount to an “arbitrary tax” on Netflix and other OTT services. Netflix also wants interconnection deals to be included within the scope of the FCC’s new Open Internet rulemaking effort.
Netflix Issues May ISP Speed Results
Netflix’s new interconnection partners, Comcast and Verizon, also fell in its ISP Speed Index for May.
Comcast dropped to number five among major U.S. ISPs, with an average Netflix stream of 2.72 Mbps during peak hours, down slightly from 2.77 Mbps in Netflix’s April rankings. Verizon FiOS, with an average of 1.9 Mbps, dropped two spots, to number 10 overall.
For May, Cablevision Systems remained atop the list of major U.S. with 3.03 Mbps, followed by Cox Communications (2.94 Mbps) and Charter Communications (2.87 Mbps), which rose two spots. Verizon DSL was last on that list, with 1.05 Mbps, swapping spots with Clearwire (1.16 Mbps).
With smaller U.S. ISPs factored in, Google Fiber (3.51 Mbps) stayed on top, followed by San Juan Cable (3.20 Mbps,), Midcontinent Communications (3.11 Mbps), Grande Communications (3.09 Mbps) and RCN (3.09).