Netflix Speeds On Verizon Do Not Improve Even After Agreeing To Pay Up

verizonmayWhen Netflix agreed to pay Comcast earlier this year for better access to the Comcast network, the streaming video service’s downstream speeds bounced back almost instantaneously and are now faster than they were a year ago. Netflix and Verizon announced a similar deal in late April, but the latest data shows no signs of improvement just yet.

Netflix has released its Speed Index data for May, the first month following its accord with Verizon FiOS, whose downstream speeds bottomed out in February after months of quickly declining performance.

The slowdown was due to Verizon’s unwillingness to upgrade its connections to the bandwidth providers that carry Netflix data from its servers to the ISPs, who then do the so-called “last mile” delivery to the end user. As those peering points became congested, a data bottleneck was created.

Paid-peering arrangements, like the one Comcast and Netflix announced in February, are intended to get around these bottlenecks by giving the content company more direct access to an ISP’s network.

In April, Netflix and Verizon announced that a deal had been made, but the data from May shows a downturn in speeds after two months of moderate improvements.

There is no explanation for the reversal of direction in FiOS data speeds, but the lack of improvement probably explains the recent battle of the buffering screens between Netflix and Verizon.

Last week, Verizon customers — and customers of other ISPs with slow connections — began seeing on-screen messages reading things like “The Verizon network is crowded right now,” while the video buffered.

Verizon slapped Netflix with a cease-and-desist letter regarding these messages, saying that Netflix provided no evidence that the slowdown was due to ISP congestion and not other factors that could affect the video quality.

Netflix says the messages were part of its campaign to be more transparent.

“As part of this transparency campaign, we started a small scale test in early May that lets consumers know, while they’re watching Netflix, that their experience is degraded due to a lack of capacity into their broadband provider’s network,” writes the company on its official blog. “We are testing this across the U.S. wherever there is significant and persistent network congestion This test is scheduled to end on June 16. We will evaluate rolling it out more broadly.”

Here’s how the other major ISPs stack up in the latest speed ratings:

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  1. MathManv2point0 says:

    Hmmm, my cable (internet only) bill was creeping up to the point where I was considering switching to FIOS… maybe not so much now…

  2. oomingmak says:

    Agreed. It seems like the only thing FiOS is gaining from this whole fight with Netflix is the perception that Verizon FiOS is a crappy, slow product. Considering that Verizon has all but abandoned FiOS expansion, maybe they don’t care.

  3. Mokona512 says:

    In my experience, verizon is actually throttling services like netflix and other streaming services. Usage of these services are not consistent throughout the day. for example, it is likely that there will be more people watching at 7PM than at 7AM, or at 3PM VS 3AM, but with verizon, it is slow 24/7. HD streams are simply not reliable regardless of the time of day.

    Either verizon is throttling the performance of streaming services to the levels of peak congestion (e.g., limiting each user to the speeds they will get at peak congestion at all times of the day), or switching off interconnects or in other ways degrading the network based on usage so that it is always slow. If you use verizon fios (50mbit connection here) the streaming services that are hard hit, will be the same slow 24/7 regardless of time of day, (it will not be any slower at 3PM than it was at 3AM.

    Either way it seems that these ISP’s are trying to charge a ton of money for a fast connection, and oversell to a point where they either cant provide it, or simply sell throughput that they do not have, and then take steps to discourage people from doing things that actually make sue of the increased speed that they are paying for.

    Verizon is likely trying to get more money out of Netflix.

    • furiousd says:

      That’s an interesting point I’m surprised I hadn’t considered before. If I’m paying for a certain amount of bandwidth (knowing that my speed for a connection to a given server is governed by their upload capacity, and any sneakiness going on in-between, and other factors) and Verizon’s claiming that Netflix needs to prove that the bottleneck is Verizon, should I not therefore be able to demand proof that I am actually getting the bandwidth I’m paying for? I used to have Charter before fiber was offered by a local telecom. The signal dropped out regularly: about once a week it’d be down for 15 minutes or more with unreliable service causing connection drops for Netflix every few episodes. Whenever I investigated things a traceroute would always fail within Charter’s network and after the connection came back up things would proceed smoothly. I get water quality reports once a year from my local utility, is it so unreasonable to think that some proof of service quality should be provided by my data supplier?