Netflix will end 'crowded network' warnings after fight with Verizon


Netflix will stop sending messages to its subscribers blaming internet providers for poor streaming speeds — though it may start sending them again in the future. In a blog post accompanying its monthly speed reports, released today, Netflix says that it will be ending the "small-scale test" of these messages, one of which gained wide attention last week for claiming that Verizon's network was congested. Verizon issued a cease and desist against the messages on Thursday, claiming that Netflix could not prove that its network was at fault. While Netflix won't be ending them immediately, it says that the tests will stop on June 16th, at which point the company will consider whether or not it should roll them out on a wider scale later on.

"Netflix does not purposely select congested routes."But the monthly report also reveals one other point of interest: Netflix subscribers on Verizon haven't immediately seen the benefits of a controversial deal between the two companies that was meant to improve streaming speeds. That's in stark contrast to Comcast's customers, who saw big improvements just a month after it inked a similar deal in February, allowing Netflix to send traffic to it directly. In Netflix's monthly streaming-speed report, it says that both Verizon FiOS and DSL have dipped in its overall rankings, with FiOS' speed actually falling from an average of 1.99Mbps in April to 1.9Mbps in May. After its deal, Comcast's speeds rose sharply from 1.68Mbps to 2.5Mbps the following month.

Though the terms of Netflix' deal with Verizon are not public, it should ultimately give Netflix's traffic a direct connection to Verizon, theoretically improving streaming performance a good deal. It's likely then that those connections are yet to be fully established and that an improvement in speeds will still be seen in the near future. Comcast's customers also saw a slight dip in May, so it's possible that there are other factors at play for the decreased performance this month. Verizon declined to comment on Netflix's report, but previously told The Wall Street Journal that putting the new deal into place would take months.

Netflix is also using May's results as another opportunity to take a shot at Verizon, following its very public battle over the warning messages last week. "Some broadband providers argue that our actions, and not theirs, are causing a degraded Netflix experience," a spokesperson writes. "Netflix does not purposely select congested routes," its spokesperson 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."

That capacity issue is exactly what Netflix's deals with Verizon and Comcast are meant to remedy. Traditionally though, companies like Netflix haven't had to pay to make connections like this to internet providers. Netflix has been quite vocal about its opposition to making these payments, which it's effectively been forced to do in order to maintain good quality for its own subscribers.

The Verge
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