Netflix Keeps Blaming Verizon For Poor Streams, Despite Threats

Verizon's legal threats aren't stopping Netflix from continuing to cast blame on the telecom for poor quality streams.

Last week, the online video company told Verizon users who were waiting for their videos to buffer that the network was “crowded.” Verizon didn't appreciate the message, which it called a “PR stunt.”

The telecom also fired off a letter to Netflix's lawyer, demanding that the company stop making “false accusations” that could harm Verizon's reputation by making consumers believe that all online video will stream poorly. Verizon said that any fault for the choppy streams lies with Netflix, for using middlemen that have “congestion issues” with some IP networks.

Netflix countered this week that it is merely informing consumers that poor streams are “due to a lack of capacity into their broadband provider’s network.”

“Netflix does not purposely select congested routes,” the company writes. “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.”

As for the cease-and-desist demand, Netflix's counsel told Verizon's that the online video company has no intention of ending its so-called “transparency test.”

“The current transparency test to which your letter relates is scheduled to end June 16 and we are evaluating rolling it out more broadly,” Netflix attorney David Hyman writes.

He adds that any congestion is “squarely Verizon's fault.”

“To try to shift blame to us for performance issues arising from interconnection congestion is like blaming drivers on a bridge for traffic jams when you're the one who decided to leave three lanes closed during rush hour,” he writes.

Who's right? It's hard to know, because much of the information about the deals between intermediaries (like Cogent and Level 3), content companies and Internet service providers remains secret. If Netflix or Verizon really want to sway public opinion, the first step will require them to offer more details about the interconnection arrangements that control how video gets delivered.

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1 comment about "Netflix Keeps Blaming Verizon For Poor Streams, Despite Threats".
  1. Leonard Zachary from EquityStep , June 17, 2014 at 4:50 p.m.
    Funny how Aereo in NYC was streaming great over Time Warner Cable broadband until two months ago. Now it is constantly buffering even at a low bit rate stream. Check the broadband speed and its says 12mbs but Aereo is not streaming. Switch to a gray market link to stream the same channel- works perfectly, no buffering. Sounds like a duck, quacks like a duck, its a duck.