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Netflix smiles at Verizon, but says they will continue to show ISP issues

by on10 June 2014 1139 times

When last we left our arguing couple Verizon had a few demands for Netflix, including a cease and desist letter that had some pretty strong wording. In the letter Verizon was trying to shift blame from themselves to Netflix and their choice of backbone carriers. On top of that Verizon demanded to know exactly who Netflix had sent messages to and the data that justified them. The message we are talking about is one that claimed “The Verizon network is crowded right now”. Failure to comply with the demands, so the letter went, would result in Verizon seeking legal remedies.

Now the funny thing about Verizon’s demands is that they really do not hold up when you look at the data or even basic routing. Using Netflix’s ISP ranking system Verizon is rather low on the totem pole as far as network speeds (something that more than a few Verizon customers have complained about).  To us the letter looked like a publicity stunt with little real force behind it.

Netflix apparently feels this way too as their response did not comply with any of the requests. The response (posted on scribd) came from Randal S. Milch, Executive Vice President, Public Policy and General Counsel for Netflix and was quite clear. The original messages sent to end users was a test and one that would not only continue, but would also be sent to more end users based on ISP performance. The current plan is to stop the testing on June 16th, but Netflix strongly feels that Verizon is wrong to try and shift the blame off of themselves saying:

“Furthermore, your attempt to shift blame for our customers' experience on the Verizon network “squarely to Netflix itself” disregards Verizon's responsibility to provide its customers with the service it has promised them. Verizon sells residential Internet access to its customers. In fact, it is my understanding that Verizon actually upsells customers to higher speed packages based on improved access to video services, including Netflix.”

Remember that Netflix has also entered into a financial arrangement that is supposed to give them better access across the Verizon network. Verizon has not put any upgrades or changes in place yet, but has made a statement that they will be operational potentially by the end of 2014. Verizon refused offers by Netflix which would have either granted Verizon direct connections to Netflix or Netflix collocating some of their systems in Verzion data centers. Instead Verzion (along with many others) pushed to be legally allowed to charge for better access.

Verizon may have thought that a public letter claiming it was all Netflix’s fault and demanding they stop (or else), but in the end it might have backfired on them. Right now public opinion is not with Verizon as consumers know Verizon and other ISPs do upsell using the claim of better access to streaming media. This was a fight that Verizon should not have picked with Netflix, especially at a time when Net Neutrality is a hot topic and many ISPs are seen as the villain and not the good guy. Your move Verizon.

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Last modified on 10 June 2014
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