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)

Latest Headlines

in Local

Pingree: Biden to Tour Navy Shipyard

Courtesy Associated Press

KITTERY, Maine (AP) _ Vice President Joe Biden is paying a visit to the Portsmouth Naval Shipyard this week.

in Local

Coast Guard Reports Oil Spill off Maine Coast

Newsradio WGAN

KENNEBUNKPORT, Maine (AP) _ The Coast Guard says cleanup is underway following the discovery of an oil spill on an island that's part of Cape Porpoise, Maine.

in Local

Maine Health Centers Get $730K Through Health Law

MONEY PILE LARGE SIZE

Three health centers in Maine are getting more than $730,000 in funding through the Affordable Care Act.

in Local

Maine Bear Trapping Season Begins Before Ban Vote

GENERIC BEAR

Maine's bear trapping season is set to begin about two months before a state-wide referendum that could ban the hunting method.

in Local

Law Leads to Stiffer Assault Charges in Maine

generic gavel

Maine prosecutors are more likely to bring stiffer charges for choking someone after lawmakers updated the definition for aggravated assault.