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Netflix to suspend its controversial ISP error messages

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Netflix (S NFLX) will stop blaming your ISP when your Orange is the New Black stream starts to stutter, at least for now. The company announced Monday that it will suspend the display of messages that specifically blame individual internet providers for congestion within its apps by next week.

In a blog post, Netflix communications VP Joris Evers wrote:

“We started a small scale test in early May that lets consumers know, while they’re watching Netflix, that their experience is degraded due to a lack of capacity into their broadband provider’s network. We are testing this across the U.S. wherever there is significant and persistent network congestion This test is scheduled to end on June 16. We will evaluate rolling it out more broadly.”

Reports about these types of error messages first surfaced on Twitter earlier this month, when users reported that they were told by their Netflix app that Verizon’s (S VZ) network was “crowded.” Verizon called the messages a PR stunt, and went on to send Netflix a cease-and-desist notice, demanding to put a stop to the messages.

At the core of the spat is a long-running dispute about peering, with Verizon and other ISPs demanding that Netflix pays them to provide adequate peering capacity. Netflix has begrudgingly signed commercial peering deals with Verizon and Comcast, (S CMCSK) but at the same time continues to insist that it shouldn’t have to. In Monday’s blog post, Evers wrote:

“Some large US ISPs are erecting toll booths, providing sufficient capacity for services requested by their subscribers to flow through only when those services pay the toll. In this way, ISPs are double-dipping by getting both their subscribers and Internet content providers to pay for access to each other. We believe these ISP tolls are wrong because they raise costs, stifle innovation and harm consumers. ISPs should provide sufficient capacity into their network to provide consumers the broadband experience for which they pay.”

5 Responses to “Netflix to suspend its controversial ISP error messages”

  1. Cecil Moffet

    I don’t know who to blame, but Netflix’s claims seem to be suspect given my experience just this past weekend. We have AT&T Uverse in Los Angeles and we were watching OITNB on Netflix through a Roku and it kept getting interrupted and bufferring. We got tired of it and clicked over to Amazon Prime and had no problems or interruptions. I know OITNB is probably more popular than what we chose on Amazon, but should that make a difference given that both services are coming through the same pipe? It seems I should direct my ire at Netflix.

    • No Cecil, the ISPs (verizon in this case) refuse to add more connections to netflix in their local dc unless netflix pays them more money. Verizon refuses to do this unless netflix pays them. It’s a way for verizon to extract money. Should google pay verizon to deliver youtube? You already pay verizon to deliver your internet connection.

      The customers of verizon, who pay verizon, should insist that verizon get them the bits they pay them for. This avoidance of investing in their infrastructure by verizon is blackmail to get netflix to pay verizon.