Summary:

ISPs who use Netflix’s Open Connect caching appliances have fewer slow-downs during prime time, the company argues.

netflix isp index
photo: Netflix

Netflix really wants more ISPs to use its Open Connect caching appliances, and the video service just found a new way to make that case: Netflix’s monthly ISP speed rankings are now based on prime time peak performance as opposed to the previously used 24-hour averages. A blog post announcing the change explains the logic behind it this way:

“Prime time is the equivalent of rush hour on the Internet. This can lead to congestion on the network, just like physical traffic can on roads. When watching Netflix, network congestion can manifest itself as buffering, lower video quality or longer start-up times.”

But there’s a remedy. ISPs using Open Connect don’t have these rush hour problems, according to Netflix:

“ISP speeds are consistently much better for customers served by ISPs that directly connect their network to Netflix using our Open Connect content delivery network. This performance difference is even more evident during prime time.”

The company illustrated this effect by contrasting average customer speeds on Time Warner Cable, which doesn’t use Open Connect, with those of Cablevision customers, which does:

Prime time streaming ISP comparison

Open Connect is Netflix’s own take on content delivery: The company is building its own customized caching servers and puts them within an ISPs network infrastructure. These boxes then regularly download copies of the most popular content on Netflix, and stream it directly to customers of that ISP. However, a number of the largest ISPs in the U.S., including Comcast and Time Warner Cable, have thus far declined to sign on to Open Connect, in part because Netflix competes with their own video services.

This isn’t the first time Netflix is trying to publicly shame these into changing their stance. Earlier this year, Netflix rolled out higher-quality HD as well as 3D streams, but only made them available to customers of ISPs that use Open Connect.

The move was meant to prompt customers to demand better quality from their ISPs, but also led Time Warner Cable to cry foul and allege net neutrality violations. In September, Netflix announced that it would make these better-looking streams available to all its customers, in part because it wants to move to 4K next year.

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