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Blogger Battle

Verizon Blames Netflix for Slowing Down Its Own Video Traffic


Netflix and Verizon are engaged in a corporate blog battle. The latest wrinkle came on Thursday, when Verizon (VZ) said its probe of a Los Angeles customer’s complaint about lousy Netflix streaming turned up evidence that Netflix (NFLX) is degrading its own service by sending traffic on congested Internet links.

“For whatever reason (perhaps to cut costs and improve its profitability), Netflix did not make arrangements to deliver this massive amount of traffic through connections that can handle it,” a Verizon vice president, David Young, wrote in a blog post. “Instead, Netflix chose to attempt to deliver that traffic to Verizon through a few third-party transit providers with limited capacity over connections specifically to be used only for balanced traffic flows. Netflix knew better.” Most network links to Verizon’s system average 44 percent peak usage, Young noted, while Netflix selected congested transit networks with 100 percent peak use.

Not so, according to a Netflix blog post by Joris Evers, a company spokesman, addressing such ISP allegations in general. “We’d like to thank Verizon for laying out the issue so nicely,” Netflix said on Thursday in a statement about Verizon’s claim. “Congestion at the interconnection point is controlled by ISPs like Verizon. When Verizon fails to upgrade those interconnections, consumers get a lousy experience despite paying for more than enough bandwidth to enjoy high-quality Netflix video.” In June, Netflix’s monthly ISP Speed Index ranked Verizon 10th for performance speed in May, two spots below its April position.

The giant video-streaming service and the giant Internet-service provider have been at odds for months over whether—and how much—Netflix should pay for the large amounts of video traffic it sends on broadband networks such as Verizon’s FiOS service. Netflix has agreed to pay Comcast (CMCSA) and Verizon, although details of those arrangements have not been disclosed. Netflix is also hoping federal regulators will intervene with new rules that would help it avoid such payments.

In June, Netflix began posting a note to subscribers when their streaming got glitchy, blaming Verizon’s “crowded” network for the problem. That notice prompted a speedy cease-and-desist letter from Verizon’s top lawyer, and Netflix removed the notices. The case in Los Angeles involved a Verizon FiOS customer with 75 Mbps service who e-mailed Verizon to complain about his Netflix performance, prompting the company to investigate the network in the week preceding his complaint.

Bachman is an associate editor for Businessweek.com.

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