updated 11:20 am EDT, Wed June 4, 2014
Warning message blaming Verizon for slow connection being tested by Netflix
Netflix is testing out messages warning users of Internet service providers with poor network connectivity, with the first target being Verizon. The video service has started to offer up an error page advising Verizon subscribers of high levels of congestion on the network, in what appears to be the latest in the net neturality-related spat between Internet services and telecommunications providers.
The warning, spotted by Vox Media designer Yuri Victor when a stream paused to change quality, states "The Verizon network is crowded right now. Adjusting video for smoother playback..." Recode spotted a response by Netflix spokesman Jonathan Friedland on Twitter, claiming it is "always testing new ways to keep members informed." A later e-mail from Friedland advises the message was a "test that advises members when their network is congested. We'll see whether they think it's valuable or not," and that it was not specific to Verizon.
The passive-aggressive warning is notable, as Netflix signed a data peering deal with Verizon in April, two months after making a similar agreement with Comcast. These peering deals would in theory allow for Netflix content to have a far shorter journey from its servers to subscribers of both ISPs, in turn potentially allowing for a far better service.
Despite signing the interconnect deals with Internet providers, Netflix and others have continued to be vocal against the practice, claiming charging for access to be against net neutrality principles and forcing the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to examine such arrangements. The topic has become enough of an issue that a recent call to action by comedian John Oliver for people to comment on the FCC's net neutrality proposals is believed to have caused the FCC website to become unavailable for several hours.