Netflix continues to thumb its nose at Verizon in bandwidth fight

Netflix continues to thumb its nose at Verizon in bandwidth fight

The two companies are pointing fingers over poor streaming quality

Netflix is not backing down after Verizon last week threatened to sue it for displaying error messages that blame ISPs for low-quality video streams.

In a letter obtained by the online publication Quartz, Netflix general counsel David Hyman fired back at Verizon about who is at fault for poor streaming service.

"To try to shift blame to us for performance issues arising from interconnection congestion is like blaming drivers on a bridge for traffic jams when you're the one who decides to leave three lanes closed during rush hour," the June 5 Netflix states.

A typical Netflix message alerting viewers of slower than normal broadband speed affecting their streaming video.

In its original letter to Netflix, Verizon called the streaming media company's warning messaging "misleading," saying there's no basis for Netflix to assert that issues relating to playback of any particular video session are attributable solely to Verizon.

Netflix said it was merely letting customers know that the Verizon network is crowded. It determined that by examining the difference between the speed at which the Verizon network handles Netflix traffic at peak vs. non-peak times.

Hyman wrote that the Internet performance-related alerts are part of "ongoing transparency efforts to let consumers know their Netflix experience is being affected by congestion on their broadband provider's network."

Netflix not only calls out ISPs for what it considers subpar bandwidth, but also provides an ISP speed index for customers to measure just how bad it is.

According to Netflix's index, Cablevision ranks the highest with 3.03MBps throughput while Verizon ranks 10th out of 16 ISPs, with 1.9MBps.

Netflix's ISP bandwidth speed rating chart for May.

In May, the University of Michigan published its 19th annual American Consumer Satisfaction Index (ACSI) Telecommunications and Information report, which showed Time Warner Cable and Comcast with the lowest customer satisfaction ratings. Both ISPs experienced declines in user satisfaction in the past year, with Comcast falling 5% to 60, and Time Warner dropping by 7% to 56. ACSI has performed its annual consumer satisfaction index survey since 1993.

This past year, the contrast between fiber optic/satellite and coaxial cable provider satisfaction also became stark.

On average, customer satisfaction with fiber/satellite is 8 points higher than cable (68 compared with 60), the ACSI report said.

And, the best large cable providers, such as Cox Communications (with a rating of 63), falls well short of even the lowest scoring fiber/satellite provider, DISH Network. Charter Communications is a notch below Cox, tied at 60 with Comcast's XFINITY brand, which declined 5%.

"Nearly three quarters of all U.S households now have broadband Internet connections, which means that more households have high speed Internet service than landline telephone service (down to around 60% as of 2013)," ACSI said. "As the number of Internet users grows, customer satisfaction with the service retreats, sliding 3.1% to an ACSI score of 63, the bottom rating among the 43 household consumer industries measured in the Index

Higher subscription prices, unreliable service and slow broadband Internet speeds continue to pull ISP customer satisfaction down, according to the Customer Satisfaction Report.

Lucas Mearian covers consumer data storage, consumerization of IT, mobile device management, renewable energy, telematics/car tech and entertainment tech for Computerworld. Follow Lucas on Twitter at @lucasmearian or subscribe to Lucas's RSS feed. His e-mail address is

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Tags broadbandNetworkingtelecommunicationnetflix

More about CablevisionCharter CommunicationsComcast CableCox CommunicationsNetflixTime WarnerTopicVerizonVerizon

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