updated 03:20 pm EST, Thu January 27, 2011
Netflix ISP chart puts Charter top, Clearwire last
Netflix as it promised Wednesday posted a chart detailing which Internet providers were the best and worst at providing Internet movie streaming. In spite of its complaints about Comcast possibly double charging for access and objecting to Time Warner, it gave cable providers most of the top spots for performance between October and January. The top seven were dominated by leader Charter as well as Cox, Suddenlink, Cablevision and Cable One.
The first non-cable provider only arrives in eighth place, with Verizon's DSL. Most providers in the bottom half of the 16-place chart used DSL, such as AT&T or Qwest. The last place was occupied by Clearwire, although it was the only wireless provider on the chart and thus the fastest in its category.
Extra-fast services ranging from AT&T's U-Verse to Verizon's FiOS were also factored in, although they were averaged out to prevent their large speed boosts from skewing the results.
While complimentary to the relative quality, Netflix noted that none of the regular Internet services were enough to sustain a full-quality HD stream. A full quality feed needs at least 4,800Kbps, but Charter couldn't go higher than 2,667Kbps and would have to use standard definition for most, if not all, of the stream. Clearwire at last place reached between just under 1,400Kbps and just over 1,600Kbps.
In Canada, Rogers was at the top spot and beat out its American counterparts with a 3,020Kbps average, but the spread was much tighter and saw even Telus' DSL sit at or slightly over 2,500Kbps.
Content director Ken Florance didn't strike political arguments in the comparison but underscored the FCC's concerns that most Americans aren't getting modern broadband. The agency currently requires 4Mbps downstream to qualify for the badge and believes that just a third of Americans are actually getting these speeds in practice. Previously, Netflix has expressed concern that customers couldn't get proper online video, whether through the service or through caps and other techniques that discouraged use.