Blogger says Verizon is Purposefully Slowing Netflix; Verizon Denies Charge - Home Theater Forum and Systems - HomeTheaterShack.com

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post #1 of 43 Old 02-15-14, 01:43 PM Thread Starter
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Blogger says Verizon is Purposefully Slowing Netflix; Verizon Denies Charge

Last week’s article detailing current Netflix news generated quite a few comments concerning the quality of streamed material, with some Home Theater Shack members reporting what can best be described as substandard experiences. Comments included reports of poor streaming quality post federal neutrality ruling, dropouts during peak hours, images that appear far from hi-def quality, evidence of blocking, Internet Service Providers (ISPs) and Netflix blaming each other for quality issues, and a difference in quality between Netflix and Apple TV content in the same home.


A multitude of reasons might be the root cause of these quality issues and others like them, but it's hard not wonder if ISPs are the ones to blame. For those of you that missed the discussion, last month a federal court ruled that the government doesn't have the ability to prohibit ISPs from slowing down or blocking web traffic for specific websites. This opens the door for ISPs to limit the streaming pipeline for internet based content providers like Netflix. The Netflix of the world are concerned that ISPs will start to charge fees for the necessary bandwidth to stream their content, or, possibly, provide less bandwidth in order to force a preference for similar streaming services offered by the Internet Service Provider.

The looming question for many of us – especially those that have cut the cord and rely on services like Netflix for content – remains: what kind of quality should we expect from streaming services and will ISPs purposefully impact that quality?

Last week the Washington Post highlighted a post by a blogger named David Raphael, a software engineer at iScan Online, Inc., claiming that Verizon FiOS is intentionally squeezing the internet pipeline on Netflix and Amazon Web Service users. He was first alerted to the issue when a co-worker complained about slowdowns associated with remote use of an iScan Online product. Upon further investigation, Raphael found that his 70 Mbps fiber optic home connection was limited to 40 kBps when accessing content hosted on Amazon Web Services (including Netflix). Confused, Raphael “remoted into” his company’s office located 1 mile from his home, and ran a test with same content and registered a 5,000 kBps connection.

Raphael continued to investigate the issue by chatting with Verizon support via a live chat. The Verizon representative insisted the issue was on Raphael’s end, but eventually – Raphael claims – the rep changed his tune. Raphael pressed the rep by asking: “It is a yes or no question. Is Verizon no limiting bandwidth to cloud providers like Amazon’s AWS services?” The response by the rep is surprising: “Yes, it is a limited bandwidth to cloud providers.” The Verizon rep went on to confirm this explains Raphael’s poor Netflix quality.

Raphael says he has tested the connection speed to Amazon Web Services for several weeks and found that it's normal until about 4:00 PM, at which point “things get slow.” What’s interesting, is that the Verizon rep helping Raphael established his connection was a solid 75 Mbps, despite Raphael’s issues. This would give support to Raphael’s claims. Verizon, however, told the Washington Post that the Verizon rep was “misinformed” and that they treat all traffic equally.


A quick look at the ISP Speed Index shows that the average stream speed for both Comcast and Verizon FiOS Netflix users has declined over the past 12 months (graph shown), with a steep decline beginning at the end of last year. Google Fiber, however, has shown an increase in Netflix streaming speed. There are numerous reasons that might explain these differences, many of which are admittedly technical and tough for the average customer to understand. At the end of the day, customers only care about the end-user experience and if you’ve noticed streaming issues with your chosen content provider, take comfort in the fact that you’re not alone. This story is far from over and is probably in it’s opening act; stay tuned.


Image Credits: Verizon, ispspeedindex

Sources: Washington Post, ispspeedindex, Daves' Blog
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post #2 of 43 Old 02-15-14, 03:35 PM
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Re: Blogger says Verizon is Purposefully Slowing Netflix; Verizon Denies Charge

I would not take anything a Verizon online chat service person "says" as gospel, while I am sure some of them actually know something about how the system works my experience has been they operate from a script to the point I have asked if I was corresponding with a person or a machine.
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post #3 of 43 Old 02-15-14, 04:58 PM Thread Starter
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Of course, your point is valid. The speed tests recorded by the blogger are the best evidence.

At the end of the day, it's an interesting collection of "facts," if you can call them that, and probably just the tip of the iceberg when considering what consumers and companies like Netflix will deal with as the content delivery landscape changes.
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post #4 of 43 Old 02-16-14, 09:06 AM
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Re: Blogger says Verizon is Purposefully Slowing Netflix; Verizon Denies Charge

I am not saying the ISPs are not regulating the streaming services, but providing service to all customers on a shared bandwidth system is more complicated than most people know.
Home internet service is still tricky and speeds are not guaranteed.
Regardless of which ISP is being discussed the home internet service backbone has a shared finite bandwidth.
That bandwidth is like a tree with the roots of the tree connecting to the "internet" and the trunk of the tree being the ISP servers and the main branches being the large cables that feed distribution centers which split to smaller branches which which feed nodes and ultimately end up to lines in the neighborhood that connect to the leaves which represent the individual homes.
All of the ISP to home bandwidth is multiplexed and time shared.
When all the people in the neighborhoods are away from home and at work or school a single user may be able to access the full 15/50/75Mbps speed on a single large file with maximum data packet size but around 4PM when the people begin to return to the homes and they all start using the internet the ISP needs to service those customers too.
One of the ways to do this is to reduce data packet size. Users surfing the web or checking email notice no slow down but the user that was actually using the full potential of their connection might.
As the day goes on the load on the ISP increases especially as more streaming services are turned on and the ISP still has to service all the customers.
Data packets may get smaller not only on the outgoing end but also on the incoming side.
Since this is specifically about Netflix they are not immune to bandwidth issues either, once again hardware and bandwidth are finite.
As more users request more data the Netflix servers and trunk lines have to service all customers too and they slow down by either breaking the data stream into more smaller packets or by reducing the amount (quality) of the data being sent.
Industrial users are not part of the home user system, they contract with an ISP for a specific amount of guaranteed bandwidth and depending on how large that requirement is a dedicated internet access point is built for them. Industrial users do not get away with paying $50 a month for 75Mbps internet access.
It is not surprising to me at all that the blogger was able to achieve full speed download at the office building while receiving reduced speeds at home, completely different internet connection with absolutely nothing in common.

I am a FIOS subscriber myself 50/25Mbps service, and I am as frustrated as anyone else with the throttling issues on Netflix. I have several high end Netflix capable devices and seldom does anything approaching 1080p quality ever come down the line.
Is it a Netflix issue or a Verizon issue? I don't know.
I have done all I can in my home to maximize my network speed
Nothing that streams is wireless anymore, but quite frankly switching to Gb Ethernet in the home didn't buy me anything on the streaming quality.

Oh well hopefully another round of hardware investment is coming up soon and more bandwidth will become available to the end users, until then the shared resources will be shared and the speed tests will still show you are getting the download speed you are paying for even though Netflix is dropping out and it's taking minutes to open the HTS forums.
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post #5 of 43 Old 02-17-14, 12:27 PM
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Re: Blogger says Verizon is Purposefully Slowing Netflix; Verizon Denies Charge

chashint The blogger logged into his work network from his house. He tested the connection speed using his company's servers and his home computer. I very good way to test the speed of your internet connection. I have been told by several people that ISPs optimize their servers to give good results on most of the usual internet speed test web sites.

What gets me is that we pay for a bandwidth that we can't get. Is this fraud? Possibly.
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post #6 of 43 Old 02-17-14, 12:41 PM
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Re: Blogger says Verizon is Purposefully Slowing Netflix; Verizon Denies Charge

For about the last month or so I too have had Netflix and Amazon streaming issues which fall in-line with this article. I am no longer able to watch a show in HD (quality) nor can I get through a 1 hour session w/out multiple drops or at least hang-ups (buffering). I have AT&T U-verse (with a direct fiber to my house). Prior to last month I never experienced buffering or drop outs and if available in HD the program was much better visual quality.

I suspect this is not coincidence. These companies (ISPs) all probably had their "other" source stream regulating plans in place and ready to fire awaiting the courts ruling.

I would have written less but I didn't have the time.
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post #7 of 43 Old 02-17-14, 03:06 PM
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Re: Blogger says Verizon is Purposefully Slowing Netflix; Verizon Denies Charge

"last month a federal court ruled that the government doesn't have the ability to prohibit ISPs from slowing down or blocking web traffic for specific websites."

This is highly troubling. This could end up leading to a much bigger problem than Netflix streaming. Depending on which political agenda a provider is tied with they could start restricting bandwidth to opposition parties affiliated sites....Just saying anything is possible as we have seen with the on going IRS.

What I don't understand is how you can pay for a product...bandwidth....and then be restricted. Furthermore be restricted based on what internet site you are looking at. Anyone have a link to the federal court ruling? I would like to peruse it and see exactly how they came to this conclusion.

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post #8 of 43 Old 02-17-14, 10:02 PM
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Re: Blogger says Verizon is Purposefully Slowing Netflix; Verizon Denies Charge

It's odd that I come off as defending the ISP or against the blogger, when I want my full bandwidth available to any site I choose as much as anyone, especially when that site is Netflix.
Bottom line is bandwidth is finite.
Streaming movie services multiplied by all users exceed the available bandwidth, perhaps at the source as well as at the ISP's output.
As more people subscribe to the streaming services I see it getting worse.
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post #9 of 43 Old 02-18-14, 08:18 PM
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Re: Blogger says Verizon is Purposefully Slowing Netflix; Verizon Denies Charge

Quote:
dschlic1 wrote: View Post
chashint The blogger logged into his work network from his house. He tested the connection speed using his company's servers and his home computer. I very good way to test the speed of your internet connection. I have been told by several people that ISPs optimize their servers to give good results on most of the usual internet speed test web sites.

What gets me is that we pay for a bandwidth that we can't get. Is this fraud? Possibly.
As chashint says, bandwidth is finite. Should ISPs not take on any more subscribers when the potential bandwidth they might use at some point exceeds the capability of their system? That would be more "honest" but none of us would be able to afford the cost, many of us would not even be able to get service, and most of the time that bandwidth would go unused. Maximizing bandwidth is a complex issue, but one solution are bandwidth shifting by downloading higher bit rate content at off peak times. I think you will start to see more of these schemes start to be used as more people demand high bandwidth content relative to the capacity of the systems.

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post #10 of 43 Old 02-24-14, 12:55 PM
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Re: Blogger says Verizon is Purposefully Slowing Netflix; Verizon Denies Charge

I am surprised people are upset because most will tolerate some pretty lack luster quality in streaming. I personally would never waste my time watching anything streaming on my plasma, when I have a Oppo player, HD cable etc.... I think with all this Net Neutrality going on... the government should keeps its nose out and let consumers vote with their wallets. It would get resolved one way or another. Networks are not cheap to install and operate and content is not cheap to distribute and create. However it seems a couple people think that paying 50 bucks a month for cable and 10 bucks a month for netflix deserve it served on a silver platter

Really, I would pay a little more for a SLA.. but not sure how many people would. I would also maybe think netflix could charge you less if you waited to watch..... many options are out there.
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