YouTube Quietly, But Publicly, Shaming ISPs That Make Your Video Streams Stutter

from the good-for-them dept

For years, people have wondered if one of the best tools to prevent ISPs from behaving too badly in breaking net neutrality would just be public shaming. Netflix has long released data on ISP performance, and then got into some hot water last month when it started directly blaming ISPs for network congestion, leading Verizon to send a cease-and-desist letter. Quartz is reporting that YouTube has been doing something similar, though it’s not quite as in-your-face as the Netflix example. If the connection is weak, YouTube displays a blue bar beneath the video, with the words “Experiencing Interruptions?” in white:

Click on the “Find out why” link and you get taken to Google’s “Video Quality Report” which tells you some information about your ISP and how congested the network is (or, at least sometimes — in my case, it tells me it doesn’t have enough information about my provider, which happens to be, to determine any results).

Of course, all the public shaming in the world isn’t going to matter much if ISPs are free to clog up interconnection points and you have no real competition to go to.

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Companies: google, youtube

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Comments on “YouTube Quietly, But Publicly, Shaming ISPs That Make Your Video Streams Stutter”

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Rekrul says:

I’d like an explanation for why it re-buffers data when you use the seek bar/position slider.

Try it; Let the video fully buffer, meaning the entire bar is gray, then click slightly ahead in the video. The slider will jump to that position, the gray bar from that point to the end will disappear and then it will re-download from there to the end of the video.

It’s an incredibly inefficient system.

Mike Masnick (profile) says:

Re: Re:

I’d like an explanation for why it re-buffers data when you use the seek bar/position slider.

They changed it about a year ago, but there are ways to disable it:

Rekrul says:

Re: Re: Re:

Thanks for the explanation and the links. I’ll be trying that as soon as I finish replying. Of course it probably won’t work in the older version of Firefox that I use. I’ve held off upgrading because I absolutely hate a lot of the changes Mozilla has been making. With each new release, they take out features and impose new ones that few people like.

Casey says:

Re: Re:

It’s not as inefficient as you would think. A lot of people will load a video just to watch a small piece of it. Only buffering a small piece of the video saves a ton of bandwidth. Especially since the time limit is significantly longer than it used to be back when pre-buffering enabled. But Google’s decision to change the buffering method did break Youtube for some people and no matter how many times Google blames the ISPs, the blame is still Google’s.

Phoenix84 (profile) says:

What about other bandwidth?

So what about other concurrent bandwidth usage (ie. Netflix/Downloads)?
I will watch Youtube while someone else is either watching Netflix, or downloading.
I have on occasion seen that blue bar.

Will that negatively affect my ISP’s ratings?

I actually have a decent local ISP. I don’t want them to get unwarranted negative ratings due to my pipe being filled of my own accord.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: What about other bandwidth?

Given that they are averaging this across all the users in your area per ISP, I’m not sure you should worry that much. Every ISP everywhere has some heavy bandwidth users that will affect the averages, and that’s normal.

What I found kind of amusing was that Hughes Net in my area was relegated to “Low Definition”, but the graphs actually showed a higher percentage of HD viewers than ISPs in the “Standard Definition” section. I did notice the graph had a lot of spikes on it though, so I’m guessing the number of users using Hughes Net was significantly lower than others with nicely smoothed curves in the graph, and that is penalizing them.

Satellite internet is terrible for lots of things, but streaming video (as long as you don’t mind the initial latency), seems like it would be a good fit.

Anonymous Coward says:


This is what the ISP’s got themselves into. If your going to bill both ends of a service, then expect them to want to get the service they are paying for.


I am tired of my 11mb down connection that I get for the bargain price of $80.00 a month going down to 500k and then having the ISP tell me “well, 500k is technically UP TO 11mbps”

Anonymous Coward says:

DSL, cable or other

…at least sometimes — in my case, it tells me it doesn’t have enough information about my provider, which happens to be, to determine any results

One bit of information what would be useful is whether the provider’s connection is DSL, cable or other.

From the methodology page, I think they are measuring download speed (“Response Size(R)/Response Time(R)”).

Anonymous Coward says:

Interesting. I watched the video in the example last night. It led me to another full ½ hour video of fireworks in Japan labelled as the best Japan had to offer.

To the troll, this has nothing to do with copyright by any major label/studio as it was privately and independently filmed. It shows you spend no time reading to support your claims and therefore lowers your creditability to nil. It gives us all a good laugh at the idiocy put on display. You do your cause far more damage here by your thoughtless replies than anything we could say.

The ISPs have brought this on themselves, through their greed of wanting everyone to pay and then pay extra for nothing that should have already been included in the base price of the package bought. Overselling the resources and showing it can be eliminated also shows willful interference with network congestion.

I have nothing but respect for those companies attempting to show the users exactly where the issue is. The FCC appears to be corrupt enough that they can’t really bite the bullet and do the right thing. This is the next best option to show the issue right out there where you can see it.

No wonder we are steadily going downhill in speed vs expense compared to the rest of the global internet access.

TestPilotDummy says:

Ha Ha Ha Ha Ha, Um What did He Say Doc?

Sticks and Stones my friend.
Seems you have some copyright glitches of your own.

wtf happened to the X22 Report recently (ahem) we never did find out WHY you yanked that channel.

Who else had glitches recently?
Hagman and Hagman

Yeah, let’s see the FACTS shall we?
(Non-abbreviated version please)

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