Verizon promised subscribers that their FiOS (Fiber Optic Bundled Service) would be ‘an even FASTER way to transfer data for Internet, TV and Digital Voice—literally connecting you to all you love at the speed of light.’ Some of those subscribers would beg to differ and are complaining about slower speeds when connected to Netflix. The graph below seems to agree with that assessment and it’s causing a bit of tension between the ISP and the company, with accusations that Verizon may be intentionally slowing connections for Netflix subscribers.
Netflix says that Verizon’s speed fell to an average of 1.82Mbps in January. That’s down from 2.2Mbps in October, and has resulted in Verizon dropping from sixth to seventh place in Netflix’s overall ISP ranking. (Compare that with Google Fiber delivering average speeds of 3.78Mbps.)
For the conspiracy theorists the context for this concern from Netflix stems from a recent court ruling. The net neutrality regulations that made it illegal for US ISPs to block online services or charge content providers for access to their networks were over ruled by the US Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, which said the Commission did not properly justify its anti-discrimination and anti-blocking rules.
Netflix is concerned, writing in a letter to share holders last week, “In principle, a domestic ISP now can legally impede the video streams that members request from Netflix, degrading the experience we jointly provide. In the long-term, we think Netflix and consumers are best served by strong network neutrality across all networks, including wireless. To the degree that ISPs adhere to a meaningful voluntary code of conduct, less regulation is warranted. To the degree that some aggressive ISPs start impeding specific data flows, more regulation would clearly be needed.”
Verizon, speaking to Ars Technica, insists its internet services “deliver a pristine user experience to our customers at any time of day on every day of the week.” Verizon even went so far as to shift the blame back to Netflix itself. Verizon said:
How the Internet works can be complicated, and consumers should be aware of the fact that the integrity of their home Internet connection is only a portion of the streaming video quality equation. If their broadband connection is functioning correctly, the source of their frustration and the content they wish to see may be one in the same.
The key question is will Verizon or other ISPs who’ve also been on a downward slope (Comcast now averages just 1.51Mbps), actually try to hit their consumers with additional fees to watch selected content remains to be seen. Despite Netflix’s fears, it makes very little commercial sense in the long run. Consumer’s like you and me can vote with our credit card and if we want high speed content – then we’ll take our money where the speed is.