A report in the Wall Street Journal states that Netflix traffic on the Verizon FiOS network is slowing. The two companies are in a dispute over who should cover the cost of the considerable bandwidth consumed by the streaming video service. The story confirms other reports from customers recently (such as this one) that Netflix was slower on FiOS than it had been and slower than through non-FiOS connections.
The story provides both anecdotes and traffic performance data supplied by Netflix to show that their performance on major Internet providers has suffered in recent months. FiOS is not alone in the chart; traffic is slowing on Comcast, AT&T U-Verse, and Time Warner Cable as well. Netflix says their average prime-time speeds have declined by 14 percent last month, just as they are rolling out the new season of House of Cards.
The article does not state that Verizon or other ISPs are slowing traffic from Netflix. Rather the dispute is over the cost of providing enhanced service for Netflix to handle their heavy bandwidth needs.
Verizon argues to the WSJ that problems arise when a service puts out far more traffic than it receives, as would be expected of a streaming video service. Netflix recently announced that they have over 44 million members and it is clear that streaming video consumers a large percentage of Internet bandwidth.
Many services, in order to facilitate the best service for customers, contract with Content Delivery Networks (CDNs) to bypass public Internet backbone networks in order to get content as close as possible to the "last mile" to the customer. But even the last mile can get congested.
Verizon argues that such services should pay more to the companies that deliver their traffic. Netflix is arguing that ISPs should hook up to Netflix's own CDN without any additional compensation. Both Netflix and ISPs argue to the WSJ over how efficient Netflix is at managing its own traffic.
Netflix acknowledges traffic problems but, according the WSJ, spokesman Joris Evers said that "generally our members are able to watch Netflix, albeit perhaps at a lower quality and with potentially some startup delays at the busiest times of day."