Netflix to halt notices blaming providers for slow video speeds

 

Netflix on Monday said it will stop telling users that their Internet providers are to blame for slow-loading videos.

Last month, the company began testing controversial notices that told users when their Internet provider’s network was “crowded,” resulting in poor streaming quality for Netflix services.

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Those notices are part of a “small-scale” test that “is scheduled to end on June 16,” company spokesman Joris Evers wrote in a blog post on Monday.

“We are testing this across the U.S. wherever there is significant and persistent network congestion” and “will evaluate rolling it out more broadly,” Evers wrote.

The notices prompted a public feud between Netflix and Internet provider Verizon last week.

Verizon called the notices a publicity stunt and threatened to sue Netflix if it kept showing them to users, while Netflix accused Verizon of trying to shut down conversations about user experience.

In the Monday blog post, Netflix pushed back on Verizon’s claims that Netflix, not Internet providers, choose how video is delivered to users and is responsible for poor streaming experiences.

“Some broadband providers argue that our actions, and not theirs, are causing a degraded Netflix experience,” Evers wrote.

“Netflix does not purposely select congested routes.”

While Netflix pays other companies to deliver traffic to Internet providers’ subscribers, users suffer when those Internet providers haven’t “provided enough capacity to accommodate the traffic their customer requested,” the blog post said.

Internet providers that want websites to pay “are double-dipping by getting both their subscribers and Internet content providers to pay for access to each other” and should “should provide sufficient capacity into their network to provide consumers the broadband experience for which they pay,” Evers continued.

Monday’s blog post also included Netflix’s most recent monthly ranking of Internet providers’ speeds for Netflix traffic.

According to Netflix’s ranking for May, Comcast and Verizon FiOS both dropped two spots in the list of major Internet providers, leaving Comcast with the fifth best speeds and Verizon FiOS with the tenth best speeds.

Comcast and Verizon have both reached “interconnection deals” with Netflix, allowing Netflix to bypass the traditional middleman companies and connect directly to the Internet providers’ servers to boost users’ streaming experience.

Verizon Vice President of Federal Regulatory Affairs David Young told CNET last week that these interconnection deals take time to establish.

“We can't just snap our fingers and the network is upgraded,” Young said in an interview with CNET.

“We need new facilities. We have to do the equipment engineering. Build it and test it,” he said. 

“We are doing all of that right now. And it should be completed during this year.”