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Verizon Accused of Intentionally Slowing Netflix Video Streaming

Soulskill posted about a year ago | from the if-you-can't-trust-giant-corporations,-who-can-you-trust dept.

Networking 202

colinneagle writes "A recent GigaOm report discusses Verizon's 'peering' practices, which involves the exchange of traffic between two bandwidth providers. When peering with bandwidth provider Cogent starts to reach capacity, Verizon reportedly isn't adding any ports to meet the demand, Cogent CEO Dave Schaffer told GigaOm. 'They are allowing the peer connections to degrade,' Schaffer said. 'Today some of the ports are at 100 percent capacity.' Why would Verizon intentionally disrupt Netflix video streaming for its customers? One possible reason is that Verizon owns a 50% stake in Redbox, the video rental service that contributed to the demise of Blockbuster (and more recently, a direct competitor to Netflix in online streaming). If anything threatens the future of Redbox, whose business model requires customers to visit its vending machines to rent and return DVDs, it's Netflix's instant streaming service, which delivers the same content directly to their screens."

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202 comments

aren't there laws against monopolistic practices? (5, Informative)

roc97007 (608802) | about a year ago | (#44044721)

...or does that not apply to internet service providers?

Re:aren't there laws against monopolistic practice (5, Interesting)

Mashiki (184564) | about a year ago | (#44044819)

...or does that not apply to internet service providers?

In Canada it does, back a few years ago [dslreports.com] Rogers was involved in throttling everything, even though they said they weren't. Took the work of a few very determined people who brought it before the CRTC, and were told to stop or face fines. As a fun note, Rogers and Bell Canada were two of the greatest throttlers in the world back then.

Re:aren't there laws against monopolistic practice (5, Interesting)

sabri (584428) | about a year ago | (#44044879)

...or does that not apply to internet service providers?

Nothing prevents Cogent from purchasing access to Verizon network. What Cogent expects instead, is for Verizon to purchase more network ports so Cogent can offload their traffic for free. "Peering" is usually mutally beneficial, meaning traffic ingress and egress is balanced. If it is not, it does not make sense to provide free access and it is fair to expect on of the parties to pay.

Essentially, Netflix pays Cogent as their "ISP". Cogent probably won that deal with their ridiculously low pricing. And now Cogent expects Verizon to invest in their network so that they can act as an extension of the Cogent network, through a "peering" agreement.

Probably necessary disclaimer: I am not in any way affiliated with Cogent nor Verizon. I do, however, work for a vendor of high quality networking equipment.

Re:aren't there laws against monopolistic practice (4, Informative)

peragrin (659227) | about a year ago | (#44044915)

um that is the entire point of the internet.

I pay an ISP, you pay an ISP, Company A, B and C all pay different ISP's.

It is the 5 different ISP's job to share the data load between them. Once you start having ISP's charge different rates to other ISP's the entire network collapses into AOLhell. Once ISP's stop working together to connect each other entire value of all ISP's fails. ISP's solely exist to connect tiny communities to larger ones.

Re:aren't there laws against monopolistic practice (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44045703)

"It is the 5 different ISP's job to share the data load between them."

No, it is not. The job of an ISP is to deliver traffic from their paying customers to other paying customers, or hand off the traffic to another ISP to deliver to their own customers. In this case, one ISP (Cogent) expects another ISP (Verizon) to absorb infrastructure costs because they failed to plan for external capacity requirements of their customers. Feel free to name your own guilty party here - I am feeling generous at the moment. Either way, the modern Internet is not the same "for the benefit of all mankind" research network it was years ago and ISPs are not sugar daddies. We are talking about for-profit companies making and spending real money in the name of making more money for their shareholders. Your comments do bring a twinge of nostalgia for the old days, but they are wrong today.

Re:aren't there laws against monopolistic practice (5, Insightful)

visualight (468005) | about a year ago | (#44045811)

Yes, it is. The job of the ISP is to provide their paying customers access to 'TheInternet'. That is still the promise they make, and still their obligation. If they can't meet that obligation they should go do something else.

They are using publicly subsidized infrastructure on publicly owned land to seek rent on a network they are not investing in or improving. So fuck them.

Re:aren't there laws against monopolistic practice (3, Insightful)

PopeRatzo (965947) | about a year ago | (#44045991)

They are using publicly subsidized infrastructure on publicly owned land to seek rent on a network they are not investing in or improving.

That is the heart of the matter. They're so used to huge profits for next to no effort that the notion of giving customers value for their money never enters their mind. And they'd laugh at the suggestion of "invest in your own network".

There really needs to be some anti-trust cases brought against the biggest telecoms. Threaten to do to them what was done to AT&T decades ago. You'd see service improve everywhere in a big hurry.

Re:aren't there laws against monopolistic practice (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44046019)

The job of an ISP is to deliver traffic from their paying customers to other paying customers

What? The job of the ISP is to purchase bandwidth and resell it to customers. Peering makes purchasing bandwidth cheaper. For an ISP, peering is always a good thing.

But wait... Verizon isn't just an ISP, they're also a content distributer and being neutral about enhancing their network would not be good for their investments in the competition.

Re: aren't there laws against monopolistic practic (3, Insightful)

Wovel (964431) | about a year ago | (#44046339)

Are you sure? Why is the traffic being routed to Verizon? Because Verizon is the optimal path for that traffic. The bulk of that traffic is gong to Verizon's customers or the customer of Verizon's customers. No one is asking Verizon to do anything for free. There may be some case where Verizon has a shorter path to another provider than Cogent, but that will be a small fraction of the traffic.

Re:aren't there laws against monopolistic practice (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44046467)

The ISPs charge for and outline the service they provide for that charge. If every paying customer decides to watch a streaming service from any provider and the ISP has to throttle it's outbound connections below the outlined service specs then it is the ISPs responsibility to upgrade their infrastructure to compensate.

Re:aren't there laws against monopolistic practice (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44044943)

The way internet works is 'uploader pays'. Netflix pays Cogent, Verizon is being paid by their CUSTOMERS to provide those customers with access to the internet (specifically netflix). The only reason that consumer ISPs get to charge at all, is the amount of upstream they provider their customers, and the infrastructure to deliver the connection to the users' home.

Re:aren't there laws against monopolistic practice (5, Insightful)

mmurphy000 (556983) | about a year ago | (#44044945)

Nothing prevents Cogent from purchasing access to Verizon network

Verizon already got paid, by their customers, the ones who are requesting to stream from Netflix.

it does not make sense to provide free access and it is fair to expect on of the parties to pay

Verizon already got paid, by their customers, the ones who are requesting to stream from Netflix.

And now Cogent expects Verizon to invest in their network so that they can act as an extension of the Cogent network, through a "peering" agreement.

More importantly, Verizon's paying customers -- the ones who are requesting to stream from Netflix -- are expecting Verizon to invest in their network so that they can deliver the contracted-for services. The fact that Netflix uses Cogent versus Billy Bob's Bass Boat, Bait Barn, and Content Distribution Network does not really play a role here.

Re:aren't there laws against monopolistic practice (-1)

pitchpipe (708843) | about a year ago | (#44045017)

Funny and informative. Wish I had mod points.

Re:aren't there laws against monopolistic practice (5, Funny)

mandark1967 (630856) | about a year ago | (#44045441)

You do have mod points...it's just taking time for them to show up because you're throttled...

Re:aren't there laws against monopolistic practice (5, Interesting)

mysidia (191772) | about a year ago | (#44045257)

Verizon already got paid, by their customers, the ones who are requesting to stream from Netflix.

Not only that... if you are ISP, and you have enough traffic to Netflix; Netflix will provide a 'local cache box' to install on your network. OpenConnect [netflix.com] hardware appliance.

Netflix pays for the hardware and such.

Large ISPs such as Verizon, can potentially put multiple boxes on their network, so they save cost and do not transport large amounts of Netflix traffic long distances.

Verizon chooses not too. Obviously, they cannot think their customers do not value Netflix. Clearly, they don't care much about their customers -- or there's an alterior motive; or just plain ignorance, blindness, and stupidity.

Re:aren't there laws against monopolistic practice (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44045363)

Or they'd simply rather not spend time and money to solve someone else's problem?

It's not like rack space is free, or electricity is free, or ensuring that someone else's hardware isn't going to harm your network is free. If I were an ISP, Netflix would "get" to install hardware in my network over my dead body - simply because I DO NOT TRUST HARDWARE AND SOFTWARE I HAVEN'T VERIFIED.

What about the people who AREN'T Netflix customers and DON'T want to pay for someone else's service? Why should my ISP fees be used to help someone else stream movies I can't access?!

If Netflix wants to solve this, they can talk to Cogent and help Cogent come up with a solution that isn't making Verizon and their non-Netflix subscribing customers foot the bill. There's absolutely no reason I should be footing the bill for a service I have no intention of using.

Re:aren't there laws against monopolistic practice (4, Insightful)

Guido von Guido II (2712421) | about a year ago | (#44045665)

There's absolutely no reason I should be footing the bill for a service I have no intention of using.

You realize that a caching appliance for a heavily-used service like Netflix could save an ISP bandwidth costs, right? Presumably more than enough to offset the cost of switch ports, rack space and electricity.

Re:aren't there laws against monopolistic practice (5, Insightful)

mdielmann (514750) | about a year ago | (#44045669)

Or they'd simply rather not spend time and money to solve someone else's problem?

You're looking at this the wrong way. The problem is their customer not being able to access the services they wish to in a reasonable manner.

It's not like rack space is free, or electricity is free, or ensuring that someone else's hardware isn't going to harm your network is free. If I were an ISP, Netflix would "get" to install hardware in my network over my dead body - simply because I DO NOT TRUST HARDWARE AND SOFTWARE I HAVEN'T VERIFIED.

You do realize that the whole point of the internet is to connect to servers, clients, and peers of an unverified nature, right? And if they co-locate for any of their clients, they already deal with this issue on a daily basis? Go ahead and google Verizon colocation services, just for fun.

What about the people who AREN'T Netflix customers and DON'T want to pay for someone else's service? Why should my ISP fees be used to help someone else stream movies I can't access?!

Well, the benefit to their other customers would be that their connection to other servers outside of Verizon's network wouldn't be impeded by the congestion of their customers who would like to stream said movies. Keep in mind, the customer who wants to watch movies on Netflix have exactly as many rights as the customer who wants to play MMOs, or the one who wants to send emails. This benefits all their customers - just not their RedBox business.

If Netflix wants to solve this, they can talk to Cogent and help Cogent come up with a solution that isn't making Verizon and their non-Netflix subscribing customers foot the bill. There's absolutely no reason I should be footing the bill for a service I have no intention of using.

It must be a source of relief to you to know that all those services that you use are vitally important to all the other Verizon customers. Or just maybe those other customers' service fees pay for those services they use, on average.

Re:aren't there laws against monopolistic practice (4, Insightful)

Y-Crate (540566) | about a year ago | (#44045701)

Or they'd simply rather not spend time and money to solve someone else's problem?

Verizon's bandwidth is indeed Verizon's problem.

It's not like rack space is free, or electricity is free...

The backspace and electricity demands of an OpenConnect box are likely negligible in comparison to the overall strain placed on the network by Verizon customers using Netflix en masse.

...or ensuring that someone else's hardware isn't going to harm your network is free. If I were an ISP, Netflix would "get" to install hardware in my network over my dead body - simply because I DO NOT TRUST HARDWARE AND SOFTWARE I HAVEN'T VERIFIED.

Good. You sound like a capable admin. Now, what's to say you cannot verify the box?

What about the people who AREN'T Netflix customers and DON'T want to pay for someone else's service? Why should my ISP fees be used to help someone else stream movies I can't access?!

By having an ISP you are splitting the cost of using the network among X number of people. Since the cost of an OpenConnect box is rackspace + electricity + verification / customer base, the cost to you alone is exceedingly low.

There's absolutely no reason I should be footing the bill for a service I have no intention of using.

This mentality is destroying the country.

Re:aren't there laws against monopolistic practice (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44046151)

There's absolutely no reason I should be footing the bill for a service I have no intention of using.

This mentality is destroying the country.

  Because streaming your faggot ass Netflix original series should be a public good. Makes perfect sense.

Re:aren't there laws against monopolistic practice (-1, Flamebait)

Pseudonym Authority (1591027) | about a year ago | (#44046409)

Start your own ISP then, idiot. No one is forcing you to be a Verizon subscriber. Why don't you crawl back under the rock you live under and take masturbate with your money to avoid spending it.

Re:aren't there laws against monopolistic practice (1, Insightful)

Pseudonym Authority (1591027) | about a year ago | (#44046393)

lf l were an ISP, Netflix would "get" to install hardware in my network over my dead body - simply because l DO NOT TRUST HARDWARE AND SOFTWARE l HAVEN'T VERIFIED.

lF YOU'RE AN lSP THEN lNSTALLlNG RANDOM SHlT ONTO YOUR NETWORK lS WHAT YOU GET PAlD TO DO. SUCK lT UP AND DO YOUR FUCKING JOB.

Re:aren't there laws against monopolistic practice (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44045847)

NetFlix traffic makes up an extraordinarily large proportion of the evening Internet traffic, thanks to their adaptive bit rate streaming (The Atlantic Wire recently reported NetFlix alone as 32.3% of Internet traffic, and growing at 35% y/y). I'm sure every provider would love to rate-limit their traffic, assuming it were legal and possible (since it's usually just hidden as port 80 traffic). The peering points are the next best place, if you know from which peering partner is a heavy carrier of NetFlix traffic. Even then, you're probably affecting other types of traffic since it uses the common HTTP port. NetFlix traffic comes in from multiple sources (transit providers), and it's unlikely that Cogent (in this case) is the only source of said NetFlix traffic.

As for the 'local cache box', it's a great idea, but my customer (large cable provider in the US) had to say no to this solution due to legal issues. Their point: if they allow NetFlix to put a caching box on their network, they may set precedent that they have to allow any other over-the-top provider to put a cache box on their network, in the interest of fairness. Right now, they're not willing to go that route. With that said, I'm sure some providers are already doing it, but it's not as simple as just slapping the caching box into their network, sadly.

The dramatic growth of "smart" phones, and their always-growing bandwidth utilization (like those of us who stream NetFlix on our smart phone), is another source of huge pressure on the ISPs to meet bandwidth demands. And that's not just limited to the cell providers, like AT&T and Verizon; they often use other companies, including other ISPs that have a footprint in the area of their tower, to "backhaul" their traffic back to the cell provider's network. Kind of a random thought, but there it is.

I do not work for an ISP or NetFlix. I work for a large networking company, and my customer is a large cable company in the US that has often faced the question of what to do with NetFlix.

Re:aren't there laws against monopolistic practice (4, Funny)

Jason Levine (196982) | about a year ago | (#44045285)

More importantly, Verizon's paying customers -- the ones who are requesting to stream from Netflix -- are expecting Verizon to invest in their network so that they can deliver the contracted-for services. The fact that Netflix uses Cogent versus Billy Bob's Bass Boat, Bait Barn, and Content Distribution Network does not really play a role here.

[BEGIN ISP REASONING MODE] Of course, it does. You see, Netflix makes lots of money. Partly, they make that money in a method involving Verizon's network. Verizon doesn't get any of that money. Therefore, it deserves lots of money from Netflix. What's that you say? Verizon gets paid by their customers and Netflix pays their ISP? *sticks fingers in ears* LA-LA-LA-LA-LA-LA-LA I CAN'T HEAR YOU!!!! LA-LA-LA-LA-LA-LA-LA GIVE ME MORE MONEY!!!! LA-LA-LA-LA-LA-LA-LA-LA [/END ISP REASONING MODE]

Re:aren't there laws against monopolistic practice (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44045641)

You really have no idea how this works. What kills me is Netflix is the problem. If Netflix cared about its customers it would make sure it had the best possible access to those eyeballs, instead they bought the cheapest network access they could get knowing that Cogent runs hot everywhere.

Re:aren't there laws against monopolistic practice (5, Insightful)

mysidia (191772) | about a year ago | (#44045171)

Nothing prevents Cogent from purchasing access to Verizon network.

Verizon is a Tier1. Tier 1 providers do not buy transit, period.

"Peering" is usually mutally beneficial, meaning traffic ingress and egress is balanced. I

No: settlement-free peering is usually mutually beneficial, meaning the benefit to both parties of the relationship is larger than the cost.

Traffic ratios are almost irrelevent. Although, they are commonly used for negotiation purposes.

Pushing more traffic into Verizon's network than you pull, means that Verizon's users are requesting data from you.

If Verizon were not a monopoly; there is no question that this would be mutually beneficial --- if there is poor connectivity to Netflix, or greater latency / worse performance, then competing providers would be favorable for subscribers.

Better connectivity to Netflix is beneficial for an ISP; moreso, than the cost of some extra ports.

Re:aren't there laws against monopolistic practice (1)

chriscappuccio (80696) | about a year ago | (#44045317)

What you are describing is the classic Cogent peering dispute

Specifically, the deal here is that we are contrasting one of the oldest and highest priced providers vs. one of the lowest priced.

Many networks do not have 1:1 peering relationships. That's reality.

The fact that Verizon has agreed to peer, but won't properly expand and add ports when they are hitting capacity means that I really don't want to be using Verizon or Cogent's fucking networks!!!

Re:aren't there laws against monopolistic practice (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44045951)

"Peering" is usually mutally beneficial, meaning traffic ingress and egress is balanced.

Your conclusion is wrong. Mutually beneficial has no relationship with in/out ratio. That was an old way to determining benefits, but turned out to be bad in practice.

The general rule is that peering is always beneficial as long as it doesn't involve handing out free bandwidth to potential customers. So, as long as the peer is not a potential customer, it is beneficial. Rule of thumb, not always true.

Re:aren't there laws against monopolistic practice (1)

DragonTHC (208439) | about a year ago | (#44045959)

you're missing the point.

Other ISPs have already setup their own CDNs for netflix because it's simply cheaper. Verizon is in direct competition with netflix now with Redbox's streaming service.

I have comcast. Trying using netflix on your cable modem with and without comcast DNS servers. When using OpenDNS, the streams are stalled for minutes. Using comcasts own DNS servers, the streams start quickly.

Re:aren't there laws against monopolistic practice (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44046059)

No, I as the customer pay the ISP to provide me access to these services. They are no longer providing me the access I am paying for and abusing their government established monopoly position in ways to stifle competition. These practices are anti-competitive. Either the government needs to stop limiting competition or they need to step in and regulate these companies to provide better service.

It's sad that in America we pay higher prices for worse Internet services and we, the customers, are then subject to anti-competitive behaviors all because ISP's have bought our politicians.

Re:aren't there laws against monopolistic practice (1)

samkass (174571) | about a year ago | (#44044933)

...or does that not apply to internet service providers?

Well, depends what you mean by "internet service". In this case, the basic problem is that Netflix streaming accounts for 1/3 of all the traffic on the internet, and "peering" assumes roughly equal sharing in both directions. The whole peering issues with Netflix has been going on for years... it's too bad the article doesn't put it in context and oversimplifies.

Re:aren't there laws against monopolistic practice (1)

cheater512 (783349) | about a year ago | (#44045047)

With peering to ISPs it isn't about equal traffic in both directions, that is more when Tier 1 companies peer.

ISPs usually peer because it is cheaper and/or faster than paying to send the same traffic over the regular internet.
Over here in Australia most ISPs peer with PIPE. PIPE does not provide any internet access, just traffic between peers.
The ISPs consequently get nearly free data from Google, Akamai, etc... just by setting up the one peering connection which is unlimited.

Re:aren't there laws against monopolistic practice (2)

mysidia (191772) | about a year ago | (#44045349)

With peering to ISPs it isn't about equal traffic in both directions, that is more when Tier 1 companies peer.

Actually... "traffic ratios" are more about what large ISPs use as a tool to prevent smaller ISPs from peering with them settlement-free, as a substitute from purchasing transit.

Other than traffic ratios are an illustrative tool, that beancounters can understand. They kind of fall apart in a sense, when there are "one of a kind" destinations that aren't on your network -- that your own subscribers demand access to. Whatever ISPs have the best connectivity to Netflix, Google, and the top CDNs, have a sizable advantage, in terms of their end users' perception of performance.

Verizon (Formerly UUnet) is Tier1. Cogent is a "wannabe" Tier1; that likes to get into 'peering disputes' with other providers, as a way of strong-arming in attempt to claw its way from transit-free to Tier1 status.

So "Verizon vs Cogent" is a Tier1 matter.

Cogent's transit-free status, does prevent them from paying, by the way.

Re:aren't there laws against monopolistic practice (1, Informative)

FuzzNugget (2840687) | about a year ago | (#44044957)

Silly pleb, laws don't apply to corporations

Re:aren't there laws against monopolistic practice (4, Funny)

osu-neko (2604) | about a year ago | (#44045131)

Sure they do! A few years ago, Microsoft was found guilty of violating the laws, and received a harsh sentence. They had to give people coupons or something...

Re:aren't there laws against monopolistic practice (4, Interesting)

PopeRatzo (965947) | about a year ago | (#44045079)

aren't there laws against monopolistic practices?

There are but they were pretty well gutted back in the days of the Reagan Administration. Now, the ones that are left are mainly ignored. The big exceptions, like the Microsoft case, usually come as political punishment or when the infraction is so blatant that it cannot be ignored.

If we had a Justice Department that was more than a bunch of cronies and amateurs, there wouldn't be a single telecom with any interest in content providers, and there certainly would not have been any of the mega-mergers in the airline industry and others.

We haven't had a real Justice Department since before the days of Ed Meese. Meese is really the very model of the modern attorney general, who believes his main job is to make sure no rich people get in any trouble and to find ways to subvert the Constitution.

Re:aren't there laws against monopolistic practice (1)

mkiwi (585287) | about a year ago | (#44046197)

We haven't had a real Justice Department since before the days of Ed Meese. Meese is really the very model of the modern attorney general, who believes his main job is to make sure no rich people get in any trouble and to find ways to subvert the Constitution.

The current DOJ is good at making sure that no rich people get in trouble---after all, the Feds are the ones who decide what trouble is.

That said, I think you meant to say something regarding morality and ethics---don't worry, I would have made the same mistake.

Re:aren't there laws against monopolistic practice (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44045217)

Centurylink slows down YouTube. This is not at all new.

Re:aren't there laws against monopolistic practice (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44045653)

In the US:

Sherman Act (1890)
1 prohibits agreements/conspiracies in restraint of trade -- could qualify
2 prohibits monopolization, attempts to monopolize, and conspiracies to monopolize -- depends on how you define the relevant product market and relevant geographic market
Clayton Act (1914)
3 prohibits potentially anticompetitive acquisitions, exclusive dealings, tie-ins, and interlocking directorates

partly taken from the first antitrust outline I found with google http://webcache.googleusercontent.com/search?q=cache:xXme4TnJ4yUJ:www.law.nyu.edu/idcplg%3FIdcService%3DGET_FILE%26RevisionSelectionMethod%3DLatestReleased%26dDocName%3DECM_DLV_012183+&cd=1&hl=en&ct=clnk&gl=us

Re:aren't there laws against monopolistic practice (1)

DragonTHC (208439) | about a year ago | (#44045933)

apparently the OP doesn't realize Redbox now has a streaming service.

Re:aren't there laws against monopolistic practice (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44046281)

...or does that not apply to internet service providers?

Please. Monopolistic practices don't apply period. Don't give me this bullshit about case X or ruling Y either, because I've yet to see a ruling that actually stopped monopolies from their continued domination. And fines turn into nothing more than a tax write off. They are as much of a joke as levying them against "too big to fail".

I think it's more likely a Cogent problem. (5, Interesting)

AlphaWolf_HK (692722) | about a year ago | (#44044731)

This wouldn't be the first time people have had issues with Cogent having saturated peering links. A common complaint among Cox customers is that latency is high to certain WoW servers, and saturated Cogent links has been found to be the cause - and they don't seem particularly interested in fixing it.

Re:I think it's more likely a Cogent problem. (1)

Forever Wondering (2506940) | about a year ago | (#44044761)

Perhaps. But, IIRC, the same complaints/problems happened with Netflix, Level 3 Communications, and Comcast.

Re:I think it's more likely a Cogent problem. (0)

girlintraining (1395911) | about a year ago | (#44044963)

This wouldn't be the first time people have had issues with Cogent having saturated peering links. A common complaint among Cox customers is that latency is high to certain WoW servers, and saturated Cogent links has been found to be the cause - and they don't seem particularly interested in fixing it.

Cogent isn't the only ISP out there for Verizon to choose from. They deserve some of the blame. And if they are choosing to bandaid the solution by implimenting QoS on a service-preferential basis, they're attempting to cover up their poor decision here; "Hey, rather than ponying up the cash for a real internet link for our subscribers, let's just throttle the hell out of everything that isn't http traffic... it'll keep customer service calls down and our network will appear to still be just fine, while everything else goes to crap!" "Brilliant! Promote this man at once!" It doesn't help that, just like Obama and Bengazi, the appearance of impropriety by having a competing service while its competitors suffer on your own network looks exactly like what people are reporting it as: A dick move.

Re:I think it's more likely a Cogent problem. (3, Insightful)

Burdell (228580) | about a year ago | (#44045355)

Verizon doesn't "choose" ISPs; they _are_ a backbone provider (they don't buy transit from anybody). Cogent is known for peering disputes, as well as selling hard to content providers (and sometimes eyeball networks) they think will give them leverage in peering disputes.

Smaller ISPs (that do buy transit) know that you don't buy from Cogent unless you have at least two other paths to everything on the Internet.

Re:I think it's more likely a Cogent problem. (0)

silas_moeckel (234313) | about a year ago | (#44045571)

Because if it were not for companies like cogent Verizon/AT&T would still be charging 200 a megabit and making it seem like a deal.

Re:I think it's more likely a Cogent problem. (4, Insightful)

Rockoon (1252108) | about a year ago | (#44045677)

Cogent isn't the only ISP out there for Verizon to choose from.

Why open your mouth when you don't know what you are talking about? You did know that you didn't know what you were talking about, right? Right? yeah.. you did...

Verizon is a tier 1 provider.
Cogent acts like a tier 1 provider, but isn't.

Cogent has run into this "problem" more than once, and more than a few times it was before Netflix used them as a provider. The problem is that Cogent dumps data onto other peoples networks as fast as possible, even when its a significantly longer route than if they had moved the data themselves most of the way.

The only reason that any of the tier 1 providers put up with Cogent at all is because Cogent landed quite a few CDN deals that people feel are important, and they landed those deals by offering a lower cost that was only enabled by their bad faith routing practices.

The fair thing is for Cogent to stop existing entirely.

Capacity planning failure - by one of the parties (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44045359)

Exactly. Netflix is simply one highly visible service affected by factors that may trigger a peering dispute between Verizon and Cogent. Any number of lesser known online services using Cogent are experiencing the same symptoms, but the only reason we are not reading about them is that reality no longer makes for a headline that draws in readers.

The real problem is that someone did not practice capacity management because they felt it was the other party's responsibility. This is yet another example of why big business only plays well within contractual sandboxes with financial terms. "Free" always ends with somebody crying foul and calling their attorney.

More perspectives can be found here: http://www.dslreports.com/shownews/Cogent-Verizon-Peering-Dispute-Leads-to-Netflix-Issues-124709

Backfire? (2)

AuralityKev (1356747) | about a year ago | (#44044737)

I know when my Netflix stuff starts throttling (not saying it's intentional by my cable co) I just sit and watch slightly more pixelated versions of whatever I was watching at the time. My last reaction is "Dammit, gotta get my ass off the couch, pants on, get in car, drive to Redbox, get disc, watch disc, remember to go back to Redbox and return disc because that's a lot less hassle."

Re:Backfire? (1)

bananaquackmoo (1204116) | about a year ago | (#44044745)

Redbox has its own netflix-like streaming service now

Re:Backfire? (1)

Brucelet (1857158) | about a year ago | (#44044951)

Well most of us don't need to drive very far to find the URL bar.

Re:Backfire? (1)

Tablizer (95088) | about a year ago | (#44044991)

I haven't seen a lot of control over buffering levels etc. If it stopped due to insufficient bandwidth, then it would be nice to pause, set it to buffer ahead up to say 20 minutes, take a restroom or snack break, and then come back with more of the movie in the buffer to reduce chance of flow stoppage.

Has this changed?

Re:Backfire? (1)

cheater512 (783349) | about a year ago | (#44045059)

Hit pause. It will do what you just described then.
You don't usually get to see how far it has buffered however. Youtube does show you by a gray bar.

Re:Backfire? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44045813)

Most devices will _not_ cache Netflix for more than a few minutes.

Re:Backfire? (4, Funny)

Jason Levine (196982) | about a year ago | (#44045309)

But Redbox has a streaming service now. Coincidentally, it's owned by Verizon. But I'm sure Verizon doing this in no way is a plot to make people think Netflix is horrible and Redbox Streaming is wonderful. I'm positive that they're not trying to leverage their network to benefit one of their unrelated services over a competitor. After all, big companies are owned by good, kind-hearted people who only seek to make as many people happy as possible. (Also, the sky is the most beautiful shade of orange in the world I live in.)

Google should buy netflix. (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44044755)

Google should buy netflix. Then google should make netflix free with fiber internet subscription.
and make it free to non google subscribers but with skippable soundless ads every 30 minutes.

Re:Google should buy netflix. (3, Funny)

Overzeetop (214511) | about a year ago | (#44045077)

Yeah, 'cause the rest of the country doesn't hate those with Google fiber enough yet.

Re:Google should buy netflix. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44045143)

Yeah, 'cause the rest of the world doesn't hate those with Google fiber enough yet.

FTFY

File this under... (1)

JoeyRox (2711699) | about a year ago | (#44044771)

Re:File this under... (1)

Mashiki (184564) | about a year ago | (#44045015)

Except we already know that most US ISP's like many in Canada deploy or have deployed DPI boxes.

Re:File this under... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44045361)

They are probably used for spying on Canadians for the government now, so no more throttling in Canada.

Equal Opportunity Suckage (5, Funny)

Tablizer (95088) | about a year ago | (#44044793)

My provider solved the fairness problem by making everything slow and spotty.

Re:Equal Opportunity Suckage (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44044821)

Oh you are on Comcast, too? :)

Re:Equal Opportunity Suckage (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44045031)

And the trees are all kept equal,
by hatchet, axe, and saw.

Ready... set... GO! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44044809)

BLAMEFIGHT!

(hand waving and excuses)

Altho we already know it's likely true. Since you DON'T have the same slowdown problem with the redbox video steaming service... That verizon owns a chunk of...

Analrapy (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44044835)

They seem to have inadvertently shot their wad on what was supposed to be a dry run.

Nobody likes Cogent (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44044839)

Cogent has been undercutting the market for a long time. So much that folks do not want to peer with them.

Re:Nobody likes Cogent (1)

Spy Handler (822350) | about a year ago | (#44044873)

Cogent has been unwilling to participate in price-fixing for a long time. So much that the telco collusion do not want to peer with them.

FIFY

Grammar... (0)

aitikin (909209) | about a year ago | (#44044845)

If anything threatens the future of Redbox, whose business model requires customers to visit its vending machines to rent and return DVDs, it's Netflix's instant streaming service, which delivers the same content directly to their screens.

FTFY

Re:Grammar... (1)

MightyYar (622222) | about a year ago | (#44044913)

Wow, thankyou, I was really struggling over that sentance.

Normal practices for Verizon (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44044869)

Bitches constantly on NANOG and to customers about bandwidth being filled to Level3. ... while Verizon peering refuses to turn up any more peering to Level3 even though it's the biggest internet backbone in the world.

Churn (1)

Technician (215283) | about a year ago | (#44044871)

Whenever I get issues with content delivery, I call the tech dept of my ISP. If they fail to fix it, I become part of the churn data. This is why I am no longer a Comcast customer. They were caught dropping connections and bringing some services to a standstill.

My last slowdown with my current provider wasn't their fault. A neighbor cracked my older weak encryption and saturated my connection. It pays to check your router's lights. Changed SSID, encryption, and password and the problem was fixed on the spot.

Re:Churn (1)

Jason Levine (196982) | about a year ago | (#44045335)

My problem is that I can't become part of the churn data because I live in an area where there's ONE broadband ISP (Time Warner Cable). I could go with Verizon DSL, but they're ditching their DSL service as quickly as they can and I'm not jumping onto a service like that. FIOS doesn't reach into my neighborhood. (I'm not in a rural area. They just stopped their build out before they reached my house.) So if I ever have a major problem with Time Warner Cable's Internet service (like if they instituted those 5GB caps they were drooling over recently), my options would be to a) complain about it as I kept paying them for worse service or b) go back to dial up (not really an option).

Wouldn't put it past them, but... (1)

m.dillon (147925) | about a year ago | (#44044937)

I wouldn't put it past Verizon to do that but one of my colo's peers primarily with Cogent and Cogent blows up internet connectivity from that colo all the time, an issue I just don't have in my other colo. Honestly I don't think Cogent has the moral authority to be able to assert anything.

-Matt

There's a reason Cogent is inexpensive (1)

SSpade (549608) | about a year ago | (#44044953)

It's partly because they're big, but it's also because they're cheap.

Cogent and Verizon deserve each other (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44045023)

Cogent vs. Verizon is like the Iran/Iraq war. There are no good guys in this fight, and you kind of wish both of them could lose.

It's possible that Verizon is holding back on bandwidth to make Netflex look bad. Verizon is certainly sleazy enough to do that.

Having said that, my money is on Cogent. They're notorious for these disputes. They think peering rules don't apply to them, and are quite willing to hang their customers out to dry rather than pay for bandwidth like everybody else. When their customers cry and complain, Cogent tries to spin it as the other ISP's fault. Somehow they've managed to win several of these pissing contests, and it's only emboldened them.

Cogent involved in another peering dispute... (1)

Drakonblayde (871676) | about a year ago | (#44045043)

Gee, that like, never happens!

Cogent is well known for undercutting the market to acquire another networks eyeballs, and then sending all that traffic into the networks they have settlement free peering agreements with. That kind of dick move means nobody wants to turn up settlement free links with you. Verizon's no angel either, but they're merely the latest to disagree with Cogent about what constitutes polite use of the access to their network.

This is no different than the Comcast/Level3/Netflix peering dispute, except for the fact that this time Netflix is using Cogent as it's beater instead of Level3... which from a respectability standpoint is just about as bad that money grab snafu they made that cost them a whole lot of customers.

Re:Cogent involved in another peering dispute... (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44045429)

Yup. And watch everyone here trash talk Verizon as they don't understand the tier1 market.

its been a few years (0)

Osgeld (1900440) | about a year ago | (#44045085)

since I was a netflix customer, but when I did have it, it was rare that I watched much on the streaming content, and none of it was new, which means your stuck waiting a couple days for the mail, meanwhile passing a dozen redbox's on the way home

now are they serving the same thing as redbox online? fuck if I know, you cant even look at movies on either site without signing up, but to me it sounds like the whambulance is firing up over a betea service. I would actually take it seriously if apple, amazon, hulu, comcast, or any other service was also making the same claims, but it just seems like netflix's piggy streaming service is just cloggin up the pipes.

More likely YouTube, too (4, Funny)

kriston (7886) | about a year ago | (#44045103)

More likely YouTube, too, is being throttled or at least left in a state of benign neglect. Verizon FiOS, supposedly to be the fastest anywhere, consistently has trouble delivering YouTube videos. I work on many different networks and peering points but the only one that has trouble with YouTube is Verizon FiOS. Even if the YouTube video is serving from a local edge server (Ashburn) it will pause within the first twenty seconds each and every time.

Oddly enough, and likely because we are only down the road from AWS-East, we never have trouble with Netflix or Amazon Instant Video on our FiOS connection.

Cox never had any sort of problem but that might be a lack of customers since FiOS came into town.

Re:More likely YouTube, too (1)

Osgeld (1900440) | about a year ago | (#44045339)

I regularly have issues with youtube, almost unwatchable on my comcast

Re:More likely YouTube, too (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44045525)

I live in the same area. The lack of streaming YouTube HD really pisses me off. My old COX 1.5mb down 384kb connection will stream YouTube HD all day long but on Verizon FIOS 15mb down 5mb up it usually auto selects the lowest quality stream and even that has trouble keeping up. I especially like how the majority of my east coast to west coast routing goes through NY where it chokes killing my latency that I used to get when I would play on USA central and west gaming servers. 15-20ms to 50+ms all day long....

I like the latest Verizon FIOS commercial "I got it when..." you see everyone walking around the house streaming HD videos, music and playing games without issue. "I got it" when I my Netflix would pixelate to shit, YouTube would auto downgrade quality or just halt, and the latency on my usual gaming servers have left me stuck with playing in just my own regional area.

Worst internet I have ever had and I can't wait for my 2 year contract to be over. Don't even get me started on the TV. Constantly being inundated with ad's trying to sell me bandwidth upgrades which won't fix my streaming/gaming issues. Always trying to sell me the latest movies on the on demand streaming services. Every time I hit the guide button the fucking box lags as it waits to load the latest pop up. I go into the settings menu to disable pop ups, disable promotional items, then the next fucking week they come out with a new menu setting of some type of intrusive TV lagging bullshit for which I need to dig through the menu's again and fucking disable.

FIOS I GOT IT

I CAN'T FUCKING WAIT TO GET RID OF IT

Re:More likely YouTube, too (3, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44045789)

Yep. I'm a Comcast customer in a metropolitan area of Northern California.

I used a *nix tool to get the actual URL that the Youtube player uses to download the video that's being streamed to it and used wget to fetch the video file. On my wired home connection, the first fifteen or twenty seconds of the video transferred at ~2MBps, the remainder transferred at ~100KBps. When fetching the resource at that very same URL from a machine at a university in Alabama, the *entire* video transferred at a constant 14MBps.

tl;dr: A Youtube video that comes out of their datacenter in LA transfers far faster in rural Alabama than in metropolitan California... all because Comcast wants to deprioritize Youtube's bits.

Re:More likely YouTube, too (1)

Rob_Bryerton (606093) | about a year ago | (#44045981)

YouTube is also hit or miss for me. Sometimes it'll work fine, other times I get the dreaded 10-20 seconds of video, then wait, wait, wait... forget it; close the tab. I'm on a 50mb/s Time-Warner connection in North Carolina, FWIW.

I think the problem with YouTube is YouTube...

The reason why... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44045109)

Redbox and Verivon has seen the writing on the wall. They right now have a project running to build their own Redbox branded streaming service using Verizons' netowrk for delivery. The project is based in Dallas and the servers are in a Verizon data center in Tampa. Why would Verizon spend their own money to help a competing service?

Cool... I predicted this! (3, Funny)

thule (9041) | about a year ago | (#44045111)

"Hey, we're not throttling. It is just that our peering is maxed out. Use this other service, it works better for our customers."

Totally legit way of doing this. I haven't seen any Net Neutrality discussions cover this possibility.

How to fix "natural monopolies" (3, Interesting)

Okian Warrior (537106) | about a year ago | (#44045127)

This is an example of a "natural monopoly", where a limited community resource is owned as property by a corporation. In this case it's the easements and permission needed to run the phone lines, and the RF spectrum for cell-phone service.

If you treat the resource as property, you get the situation we have now: high fees for access and discouraged use. Phone service has high monthly fees (access) as well as data caps, fixed monthly "minutes", and roaming charges (discouraged use). Similarly for internet: high monthly fees (access), data caps, throttling, kicking off high-usage users, and so on (discouraged use).

As an alternative, take the revenues from the carriers and divide by the total minutes of service. I don't know what that figure actually is, but for purposes of discussion let's say it's 5 cents a minute. A similar calculation can be done per gigabyte of internet data.

Suppose the government mandated that carriers could only charge that amount or less, with no other restrictions. Any phone could be used with any carrier, and you choose a carrier at call time by scanning the available carriers like we scan wireless access points. (You wouldn't explicitly scan for each call. Most likely you choose one carrier as default, like we now do with wireless access points.)

Now instead of making money by getting people to sign up and not use the service, carriers make money the more people use the service. They have to encourage more people to use it, and for longer periods. They have an interest in putting unused capacity to work, and promoting innovative new uses. If a channel is overallocated, they have an interest in building out more capacity.

The reasoning can be applied to cable TV, internet, and phone service. If the cable company can only charge 15 cents per hour of viewing/downloading (whatever the fee structure works out as), then they will encourage more usage rather than throttling.

If this change is made, the existing players will make the same profit as now: initially the profits are the same, and no workers need be laid off. Their bottom line doesn't change, only their focus of service.

It's game theory: change the rules so that the outcome is more desirable.

This is a uninformed article (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44045173)

Verizon own a 50% stake in redbox because of the Redbox Instant service that also allows streaming of movies.

FFS, do your homework before making yourself look like an ass.

Except... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44045175)

If anything threatens the future of Redbox, whose business model requires customers to visit its vending machines to rent and return DVDs, its Netflix's instant streaming service, which delivers the same content directly to their screens.

Except the instant streaming selection is horrible if you want anything recent. I signed up for the trial of Netflix only to cancel it because there wasn't enough selection to make it worth $8/month.

Re:Except... (1)

Annorax (242484) | about a year ago | (#44045249)

We rarely watch movies on Netflix. The real strength of Netflix is the television series that it carries. Our kids can watch tons of the kids shows that they want all afternoon long on rainy days. It's a great source of content if you approach it from that angle.

Network ports are like toilets (3, Insightful)

mc6809e (214243) | about a year ago | (#44045267)

And peering is like agreeing to allow guests to use your toilet as long as you are allowed to use theirs.

Okay. Fine.

But what Cogent does after making this agreement with its neighbors is open up a buffet next door with a big sign directing its customers to your bathroom. Then when their customers complain about the backups and stink, Cogent demands you build more toilets.

Re:Network ports are like toilets (1)

Rockoon (1252108) | about a year ago | (#44045713)

Exactly.

I am amazed at how few of the people here know what Cogent is doing, even though this is just another in a long line of slashdot-featured stories about Cogent.

Net nutrality? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44045283)

I don't need no stinking net neutrality!

whatever happened to boycots? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44045443)

tell everyone to not use redbx driving it out of business. I know its a dream, and I wouldn't say say it except Verizon's response seemed arrogant.
 

Don't make us force net neutrality (1)

Karmashock (2415832) | about a year ago | (#44045629)

There are reasons for throttling bandwidth. Entirely reasonable and practical reasons for it... and I wouldn't get in the way of ISPs from doing that. But they can't take advantage of that understanding to exploit people or undermine services using their bandwidth.

Please... do not make us take your flexibility away ISPs. Because if you start messing with this we will do it.

Prepare thyself, you villainous scum, Verizon (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44045673)

Prepare to meet thy maker as Netflix takes you in the joust, and in the Duel with Sword and Shield, and if there's anything left, the dog boy will be eating it for supper.

In other words, you shouldn't have fucked with the tubes man, you're gonna get reamed, hard sans lube.

Wait (5, Interesting)

Charliemopps (1157495) | about a year ago | (#44045783)

I work for a telco, and not too long ago I got to chat with one of our VPs about why this happens. I'm a total net neutrality guy, but after talking to him I understood his point of view a bit better.

With most large content providers, like google for example, ISPs can go to them and say "hey, we're getting a lot of traffic from you. It's cheaper for us if we can make arrangements that are beneficial to the both of us." and then the ISP and the content provider enter into an agreement where the ISP pays a bulk rate for trunks to a network, and the content provider remains on that network and gives plenty of warning before switching so the ISP can make sure that they have enough capacity in that direction.

Netflix however, doesn't make these kind of agreements. The switch providers and hosting at will. The ISP will pay for large trunks leading to where the majority of netflix traffic is coming from and then Netflix will suddenly drop that host and switch to another. Suddenly 20% of the ISPs traffic is coming from an entirely new network. But they are still locked into a contract with that other network.

Also, Netflix has no interest in the health of the ISPs network. If Netflix had a financial interest in the health of the network they could do some rather simple things to help the isp, like encourage users to queue up movies ahead of time, have them download at off peak times and then play when they wanted to watch them. This is was cable companies do after all... but netflix has no interest in this sort of thing and as far as the ISP is concerned is doing is best to be as damaging to the network as possible.

I'm still all for net neutrality, but its good to understand the ISPs concerns. They aren't just out to thwart Netflix. But Netflix is digging their own grave on this one.

Re:Wait (4, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44045845)

Right on Man - you VP really straightened things out for you. To obad Netflix would think of a way to help out [netflix.com] those poor ISPs.

Vz throttling streaming (1)

jmw123 (2866773) | about a year ago | (#44046071)

This behavior is inevitable. Content providers that are *also* carriers will inevitably lead to this. The FCC should have stopped this in its tracks years ago but now it's too late. Feckless anti-trust enforcement for a generation doesn't help either.

they do this with youtube.com as well (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44046085)

they do this with youtube.com as well..

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