Did Verizon FiOS Slow Down Customers’ Apple Downloads? Nope

Image courtesy of (Dave_G_Stewart)

It’s been a busy week for Apple’s download servers, as iPhone and iPad owners eagerly downloaded a new operating system, and owners of the new iPhone 6 downloaded an update, then frantically rolled back that update to avoid some issues. All this meant one thing: lots of downloads from computers and mobile devices alike of the new and old operating systems.

We began to hear rumblings that Verizon FiOS customers had trouble downloading software from Apple’s servers. These problems went away while using a mobile connection or using a VPN to encrypt their traffic and appear to be downloading from a different Internet service provider.

For example, here’s what two different downloads from Apple (of iOS 7.1.2 for my creaky old phone) looked like here at Consumerist’s Albany bureau, which uses FiOS. The screen grabs were taken in different browsers, but the dismal download speeds were the same in both browsers.


The difference? I was using the VPN that I normally use on public wi-fi hotspots.


Other users found that they had the same problem, though: switching to a different connection or turning on a VPN sped up their connections. Was Verizon throttling their customers’ downloads from Apple to keep bandwidth under control while their customers went iOS-mad, or was something else going on here?

We spoke to Verizon FiOS spokesman Bob Elek, who told Consumerist that Verizon wasn’t deliberately throttling Apple downloads, because that would be cruel. The problem, he noted, was a combination of download volume and the way that Apple’s new content delivery network works.

Apple reportedly decided to build its own content delivery network for this and all future operating system updates. The rumor has been that they have a paid interconnection deal with Comcast and other ISPs, much like Netflix and other bandwidth-gobbling content providers, but Apple and the telecoms wouldn’t discuss such a deal publicly even if there is one.

Customers now report that downloads are working: whether it’s because there are fewer Apple users downloading or Verizon made a needed change isn’t clear.

Unable to update any Apple Software on Home Network [Verizon] (This shows that the issue actually started a few months ago for some customers.)
FIOS horrible Apple download speeds. [DSLReports]

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