Things are starting to get a little catty between internet service providers and content providers as the conversation on net neutrality heats up with Netflix and Verizon playing the blame game for poor video streaming quality.
Earlier this week some Netflix users who connect to the internet through a Verizon FiOS connection received the following message:
Effectively calling out Verizon for the quality of streaming for their customers just a few months after signing a paid peering deal with the ISP to get around the congestion on the internet and reach their clients with a more direct path.
Verizon responded promptly to what they called a “PR stunt” with the threat of legal action if Netflix didn’t stop what they called unfair business practices that threaten its broadband business.
In the cease and desist letter to Netflix, Randal Milch, EVP of public policy and general counsel for Verizon said, “As Netflix knows, there are many different factors that can affect traffic on the Internet, including choices by Netflix in how to connect to its customers and deliver content to them, interconnection between multiple networks, and consumer-in-home issues such as in-home wiring, WiFi, and device settings and capabilities.”
Netflix responded in a statement, “This is about consumers not getting what they paid for from their broadband provider. We are trying to provide more transparency, just like we do with the Netflix ISP Speed Index, and Verizon is trying to shut down that discussion.”
It is somewhat surprising that Netflix has been so vocal in their net neutrality “transparency” efforts considering they signed the paid peering deals with both Verizon and Comcast earlier this year to ensure they would get better quality streaming as compared to other content providers on the net.
Update: Netflix has announced that they will stop the test of their on-screen messages that blame ISPs by name for slow or interrupted streaming. Netflix spokesman Joris Evers wrote in a blog post that Netflix, “will evaluate rolling it out more broadly.”