Netflix Rather Quietly Admits Verizon Isn't Throttling Netflix Streams

from the crying-wolf dept

A lot was made last week of the blog post by iScan developer David Raphael, who managed to get a front line Verizon support tech to admit Verizon was intentionally throttling Netflix streams (and essentially anything hosted on AWS) for home FiOS users. The resulting press cacophony largely consisted of outlets claiming that this was indisputable proof positive Verizon was violating net neutrality. Except as we noted previously, while anti-competitive shenanigans certainly aren't out of character for the telco, there really wasn't enough actual evidence proving that the problem wasn't the result of peering, routing, or other congestion issues, the kind that Netflix and YouTube users have been complaining about for much of the last year.

While some believe Verizon might be intentionally letting peering links saturate to their own benefit, the company issued repeated statements denying traffic discrimination, and blaming Netflix for the problems. Strangely Netflix wouldn't comment to anyone in the press on what was happening, but the company did for whatever reason feel free to tell J.P. Morgan analyst Doug Anmuth privately that Verizon is not throttling Netflix streams:
"J.P. Morgan analyst Doug Anmuth...says he has been talking to Netflix CEO Reed Hastings and CFO David Wells, and they told him they don’t think cable and telco companies are hampering the company’s video streams. Anmuth doesn’t have much to report on the topic, so here are his comments in their entirety: "Netflix does not seem overly concerned regarding Net Neutrality, and continues to believe that violations would be escalated quickly. Netflix also indicated that it has no evidence or belief that its service is being throttled."
Granted no "evidence or belief" doesn't mean Verizon isn't up to no good; the company has made an art form out of using bogus technical jargon to justify anti-competitive and closed behavior, especially on their wireless network. But the admission from Netflix (which sees a lot of the obfuscated peering data consumers don't) at least suggests Netflix can't prove it. It's not like Netflix has any vested interest in lying for Verizon's sake either; the company just got done threatening ISPs in an investor letter (pdf) that if ISPs were caught manipulating traffic anti-competitively, Netflix would "vigorously protest and encourage our members to demand the open Internet they are paying their ISP to deliver."

The entire story continues to be kind of fascinating in that despite press comments from a universe of very smart networking experts who claim to know what's going on, nobody actually knows what's going on. The full data simply isn't available to the public. A lot of people are claiming they're seeing throttling by their ISP, only to later realize they're not seeing the full picture. Claiming net neutrality every time the network farts is dangerous in that if we keep crying neutrality wolf without indisputable supporting evidence, less attention will ultimately come when a violation does truly occur.
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Filed Under: bandwidth throttling, net neutrality
Companies: netflix, verizon

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  1. identicon
    Angela Sanders, 13 Feb 2014 @ 8:47am

    These "cry wolf" cases will begin to desensitize the public to a very very important concern.

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