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Verizon to Netflix: Kill the Congestion Messages Right Now

by Todd Haselton | June 5, 2014June 5, 2014 3:00 pm PDT


If you stream Netflix and subscribe to Verizon you may have recently seen a warning message from Netflix when the quality drops. That message has infuriated Verizon, and now the cable company is biting back.

The warning message from Netflix places direct blame on Verizon and states: “The Verizon network is crowded right now. Adjusting video for smoother playback.” Verizon says that this isn’t at all its fault and that it’s Netflix’s choice in how it connects to Verizon’s network that’s causing the issues. Now the cable company is trying to put an immediate stop to Netflix’s warning messages, and recently sent a cease and desist letter to the streaming video company.

“Netflix’s false accusations have the potential to harm the Verizon brand in the marketplace,” the letter obtained by Re/Code says. “This potential harm is broader than only the experience of a customer viewing Netflix content. The impression that Netflix is falsely giving our customers is that the Verizon network is generally “crowded” and troublesome. This could cause a customer to think that any attempted viewing of video, whether it be Hulu, YouTube or other sites, would yield a similarly “crowded” experience,” and he or she may then choose to alter or cease their own use of the Verizon network… Verizon demands that Netflix immediately cease and desist from providing any such further “notices” to users of the Verizon network.”

Netflix still doesn’t think it’s the one to blame and it says that it’s actually being the good guy here. In response to Re/Code, a spokesperson said that Netflix is simply “trying to provide more transparency… and Verizon is trying to shut down that discussion.” Obviously neither side wants to be blamed for poor playback: Netflix wants its customers to enjoy its service uninterrupted. Verizon argues that it has more than enough bandwidth that these problems aren’t stemming from its network and that the quality drops are a result of Netflix’s decision to “lower its costs as much as possible” by going through middle-man networks instead of connecting directly to providers.

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Todd Haselton

Todd Haselton has been writing professionally since 2006 during his undergraduate days at Lehigh University. He started out as an intern with...