Netflix, Verizon point fingers for slow loads

Verizon and Netflix are publicly playing the blame game over Verizon subscribers’ experiences with slow-loading Netflix videos.

Netflix last month began telling users when congestion on their Internet providers’ networks is causing slow or low-quality access to Netflix videos, according to a company spokesman.

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“We are testing ways to let consumers know how their Netflix experience is being affected by congestion on their broadband provider's network,” the spokesman said. 

“At present, we are testing in the U.S. in areas serviced by many broadband providers.”

Over the last month, Netflix users have taken to Twitter to post pictures of the Netflix notices, which point to congestion on networks belonging to Verizon and AT&T.

The notices tell users that their Internet provider’s “network is crowded right now.”

But Verizon says Netflix’s attempt to blame congestion on Internet providers’ networks “is not only inaccurate, it is deliberately misleading.”

In a blog post on Wednesday, Verizon Vice President of Federal Regulatory Affairs David Young pushed back on Netflix’s claims.

“The source of the problem is almost certainly NOT congestion in Verizon’s network. Instead, the problem is most likely congestion on the connection that Netflix has chosen to use to reach Verizon’s network,” Young wrote. 

“Of course, Netflix is solely responsible for choosing how their traffic is routed into any [Internet provider’s] network.”

Rather than blaming Verizon’s network for the congestion and resulting slow-loading videos, “it would be more accurate for Netflix's message screen to say: ‘The path that we have chosen to reach Verizon’s network is crowded right now,’ ” Young continued.

“However, that would highlight their responsibility for the problem.”

Netflix’s notices come after the company reached a controversial agreement with Comcast to boost Netflix traffic earlier this year.

Through the deal between the two companies, Netflix connected directly to Comcast’s servers — as opposed to through the traditional third-party interconnection company — to improve the streaming experience for Netflix users accessing the site through Comcast’s Internet service.

While Comcast hailed the deal as a move to benefit both companies’ users, Netflix CEO Reed Hastings said Netflix was forced to pay this “arbitrary tax” due to Comcast’s large share of the market for Internet access.