updated 04:09 pm EDT, Thu June 12, 2014
General counsel for Netflix sets congestion blame squarely with Verizon
The war of words between Netflix and Verizon over Internet service provider (ISP) performance issues is continuing, a new leaked letter reveals. A response from Netflix General Counsel David Hyman to his counterpart at Verizon firmly pins the connection blame on the ISP, after receiving a cease and desist letter over Netflix's congestion warning messages.
Received by Quartz, the letter advises the error message, which directly names Verizon as having connection issues when changing the quality of a stream, is part of Netflix's "ongoing transparency efforts." Just like a company blog post from earlier this week states, it was an experiment that was not limited to just Verizon, with warnings shown on specific ISPs after examining the difference in connection speed at peak and non-peak times.
Verizon's attempt to shift the blame onto Netflix is also attacked, as it "disregards Verizon's responsibility to provide its customers with the service it has promised them." After pointing out Verizon upsells customers on the promise of better video streams from Netflix and its competitors, Hyman argues "Verizon's unwillingness to augment its access ports to major Internet backbone providers is squarely Verizon's fault."
An earlier accusation from Verizon said that it was Netflix's fault for using slower connections between it and Verizon, causing the issue. Netflix denied this as the problem, claiming to only use faster connection providers for its bandwidth, and that it was Verizon's own networkat fault. "To try to shift blame to us for performance issues arising from interconnection congestion is like blaming drivers on a bridge for traffic jams when you're the one who decided to leave three lanes closed during rush hour," writes Hyman.
Hyman also advises that, while Netflix offered its Open Connect Program to ISPs to help with connectivity, Verizon opted not to do so, instead allowing the network to degrade until Netflix agreed to pay for connectivity. "We brought the data right to your doorstep...all you had to do was open your door."
The letter ends with Hyman reconfirming the error message test was to end on June 16th, but it will continue to work on "ways to communicate network conditions to our customers."