News

Netflix blames slow speeds on Verizon, other Internet providers

Netflix blames slow speeds on Verizon, other Internet providers

NETFLIX:Netflix Inc is telling customers that Verizon Inc and other Internet providers are to blame for slow speeds as the video streaming service pushes to avoid paying for faster delivery of its movies and TV shows. Photo: Associated Press

By Marina Lopes and Lisa Richwine

WASHINGTON/LOS ANGELES (Reuters) – Netflix Inc is telling customers that Verizon Inc and other Internet providers are to blame for slow speeds as the video streaming service pushes to avoid paying for faster delivery of its movies and TV shows.

Netflix has been calling on the U.S. Federal Communications Commission to do away with fees content companies pay to Internet service providers for smooth delivery of their services to consumers.

The FCC is expected to consider that idea as it seeks public comment on recently proposed Internet traffic, or “net neutrality,” rules that suggest content companies should be allowed to strike “commercially reasonable” deals with broadband providers to give priority to their traffic.

“The Verizon network is crowded right now,” reads a notice Netflix sent to some customers on the screen when a video is buffering.

Netflix is sending similar messages to U.S. customers of other broadband providers when the networks are congested, spokesman Jonathan Friedland said on Wednesday. The test began in mid-May and is reaching a few hundred thousand subscribers.

“We are testing ways to let consumers know how their Netflix experience is being affected by congestion on their broadband provider’s network,” he said. “At present, we are testing in the U.S. in areas serviced by many broadband providers.”

Netflix for months has been telling customers around the world which Internet providers offer the fastest, or slowest, service through a speed index it posts on a company blog.

Verizon spokesman Robert Elek called the new alerts a “PR stunt.”

“We’re investigating this claim, but it seems misleading and could confuse people,” Elek said.

In April, Netflix signed a deal to pay Verizon for faster delivery of its TV shows and movies. But the agreement has not taken full effect. Verizon is working to implement the needed architecture and expects improvements throughout 2014, a source with knowledge of the agreement said.

In a blog post on Wednesday, Verizon said Netflix chooses how to route its traffic. If speeds are slow, the company said, “the problem is most likely congestion on the connection that Netflix has chosen to use to reach Verizon’s network.”

Netflix, which has raised concerns about the FCC’s net neutrality proposal, has said it reluctantly agreed to pay Verizon and Comcast Corp for faster connections but believes the Internet companies should provide quicker delivery for free. Netflix Chief Executive Officer Reed Hastings argues free connections are key to ensuring “net neutrality,” the equal treatment of data on the Internet.

Netflix may be trying to encourage customer complaints to regulators or broadband providers, BTIG analyst Rich Greenfield said.

“We suspect Netflix hopes (the buffering alerts) will generate enough call volume to ISPs, politicians and the FCC that it forces ISPs to rethink their paid interconnection policies,” Greenfield said in a blog post.

(Reporting by Marina Lopes and Lisa Richwine. Additional reporting by Alina Selyukh; Edited by Ronald Grover and Lisa Shumaker)

Recent Headlines

in Viral Videos

B1G mascots ‘Shake It Off’ parody

12-overlay3

Big Ten mascots show off their dance moves to Taylor Swift's "Shake It Off."

in Music

Led Zeppelin plagiarism case to be heard in Pa.

2012 Kennedy Center Honorees and members of the band Led Zeppelin, from left, Jimmy Page, John Paul Jones, and Robert Plant chat on the red carpet after arriving at the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts for the 2012 Kennedy Center Honors Performance and Gala Sunday, Dec. 2, 2012 at the State Department in Washington.

Led Zeppelin have lost the first round in their plagiarism battle over mega-hit "Stairway to Heaven."

in Viral Videos

If ‘WALL-E’ was a Christopher Nolan film

15-overlay3

Take a look at Pixar's "Wall-E" reimagined as if it was created by the director of "The Dark Knight."

in Weird

Woman mistakes jail for bar

jail2

One is a building with bars. The other is a building with a bar. A very drunk woman apparently had trouble telling them apart.

in Music, Viral Videos

WATCH: ‘Stingtones’

24-overlay2

What if Sting recorded your cell phone ringtone - or, even better - your voicemail message?