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Netflix, Verizon Scuffle Part of a Pattern

6 Jun, 2014 By: Chris Tribbey

The dust-up between Netflix and Verizon marks the second time the streaming service has fought with a pay-TV provider it had recently come to terms with on an interconnection deal.

Shortly after signing a deal with Comcast in February to ensure Netflix streams get to Comcast subscribers efficiently, Netflix CEO Reed Hastings attacked Comcast, calling the fee “arbitrary” and unfair.

The Verizon fight began when some Verizon customers using Netflix received an error message reading “The Verizon network is crowded right now. Adjusting video for smoother playback.”

That caused Verizon to send a cease-and-desist letter to Netflix, arguing any number of factors — including Netflix’s own infrastructure — could cause a slowdown in streaming. The letter calls the accusation that Verizon is responsible for streaming issues “false.”

“Netflix has the ability to directly connect to every broadband network in America should it choose to do so,” the letter reads. “Instead … Netflix relies on a panoply of content-distribution and other middle-man networks to reach its customers, trying to lower its costs as much as possible. The cost/quality trade-off is one Netflix has chosen.”

David Young, VP of Verizon Federal Regulatory Affairs, called Netflix’s move a PR stunt aimed at deflecting blame to ISPs for buffering issues.

“This claim is not only inaccurate, it is deliberately misleading,” he said. “The source of the problem is almost certainly not congestion in Verizon’s network. Instead, the problem is most likely congestion on the connection that Netflix has chosen to use to reach Verizon’s network. Of course, Netflix is solely responsible for choosing how their traffic is routed into any ISP’s network.”

Netflix and Verizon signed an interconnection deal in late April, with the intent of ensuring Verizon customers received faster Netflix service. 

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