Netflix Ranks Primetime Performers

Open Connect Members Google Fiber, Cablevision, Cox, Suddenlink Head Up Revised Speed Index

Netflix has added a new twist to its monthly ISP Speed Index with its October results, ranking service providers on the quality of the Netflix streams they deliver during the all-important prime time period.

Similar to its original approach, Netflix is using it to demonstrate that ISPs that are part of Open Connect, its private edge caching system, deliver higher quality streams than ISPs that do not.  Netflix originally limited access to its “Super HD” 1080p library to subscribers who obtained broadband from ISPs that were also Open Connect members, but opened it up to everyone on September 26.

“Prime time is the equivalent of rush hour on the Internet. This can lead to congestion on the network, just like physical traffic can on roads. When watching Netflix, network congestion can manifest itself as buffering, lower video quality or longer start-up times,” Joris Evers, director of corporate communications at Netflix, wrote Monday in this blog post.

In the revised U.S. index for October, ISPs that are card-carrying Open Connect members rounded out the top five.  Google Fiber led the way with an average Netflix stream of 3.5 Mbps, followed by Cablevision Systems (2.7 Mbps), Cox Communications (2.56 Mbps) and Suddenlink Communications (2.47 Mbps).

In the latest U.S. rankings, Netflix also presented an illustration that compared the Netflix streaming quality of Time Warner Cable, a critic of Netflix’s original Super HD policies, and Open Connect member Cablevision.

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Notably, Mediacom Communications, an operator that has opted to keep over-the-top traffic in check using a “transparent” caching system from Qwilt rather than Netflix’s private platform, clocked in with a primetime average of 1.83 Mbps, good for 11th place in Netflix’s revised rankings.

Open Connect has also begun to weave its way into discussions about integrating Netflix into MSO-supplied set-top boxes. People familiar with the discussions say Netflix and U.S. operators have been talking such integrations for years, but a major sticking point in those negotiations lately has been  Netflix’s insistence that those operators join its private CDN.