Enraged Verizon FiOS Customer Posts Video Seemingly Proving ISP Throttles Netflix

The ongoing battle between Netflix and ISPs that can't seem to handle the streaming video service's traffic boiled over to an infuriating level for Colin Nederkoon, a startup CEO who resides in New York City. Rather than accept excuses and finger pointing from either side, Nederkoon did a little investigating into why he was receiving such slow Netflix streams on his Verizon FiOS connection, and what he discovered is that there appears to be a clear culprit.

Nederkoon pays for Internet service that promises 75Mbps downstream and 35Mbps upstream through his FiOS connection. However, his Netflix video streams were limping along at just 375kbps (0.375mbps), equivalent to 0.5 percent of the speed he's paying for. On a hunch, he decided to connect to a VPN service, which in theory should actually make things slower since it's adding extra hops en route to his home.

Netflix Stream

Speeds didn't get slower, they got faster. Much faster. After connecting to VyprVPN, his Netflix connection suddenly ramped up to 3000kbps, the fastest the streaming service allows and around 10 times faster than he was getting when connecting directly with Verizon.

"It seems absurd to me that adding another hop via a VPN actually improves streaming speed. Clearly it’s not Netflix that doesn’t have the capacity," Nederkoon vented in a blog post. "It seems that Verizon are deliberately dragging their feet and failing to provide service that people have paid for. Verizon, tonight you made an enemy, and doing my own tests have proven (at least to me) that you’re in the wrong here."


Verizon may have a different explanation as to why Nederkoon's Netflix streams suddenly sped up, but in the meantime, it would appear that throttling shenanigans are taking place. It seems that by using a VPN, Verizon simply doesn't know which packets to throttle, hence the gross disparity in speed. If that's truly the case, Verizon may have made more enemies than just a pissed off customer in New York City.

Comments
JohnRossLumbert 5 months ago

Thank you!

EdDeocampo 5 months ago

Nice article. I have FIOS and mine tops out at 3000 kbps at 1280X720 resolution using the test. The only difference however, my speed is twice that of the enraged customer. Thanks.

ThomasTaege 5 months ago

Verizon with an agenda... Shocking.

TButtons 5 months ago

shocking. this is why we need net neutrality.

RowenWindsong 5 months ago

The 3000 kbps is the max Netflix currently puts out for HD stream speed.

MichaelWorley 5 months ago

We won't have it Thadeus, I don't know about you but I've lost all faith in our government being able to actually represent the people they're elected to represent. Big business now rules this country, they pay for elections, they have unlimited abilities to fund their candidates at the expense of the general population and they have trained a huge number of people to be conservatives by claiming that the government doesn't have their best interests at heart and a multi-billion-dollar corporation does.

inspector 5 months ago

Surprised that this has just been done... lol

KyleHopping 5 months ago

3000 kbps is not the max, Netflix super HD 1920x1080 @ 5800 kbps is the max. Now not all devices can receive this; for example if your using windows only on windows 8 using the Netflix app can you get this.

heres the list of devices:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_Netflix_compatible_devices

You can manually try forcing the bit-rate on any movie with "Ctrl+Shift+Option/Alt+S" (this will also tell you the current rate its streaming at)

http://www.rewatchable.com/manually-force-hd-playback-on-netflix-watch-instantly/

but if your ISP is throttling it will probably never load.
Super HD was orginally limited to ISPs that signed up and used netflix openconnect

http://blog.netflix.com/2012/06/announcing-netflix-open-connect-network.html

That changed last Sept 2013 and they started allowing everyone to get it

http://blog.netflix.com/2013/09/highest-quality-hd-now-available-to-all.html

realneil 5 months ago

Verizon will come up with a weak-ass excuse for these results, and then start throttling any stream that uses so much data.

Is anybody surprised at this?

acarzt 5 months ago

Unfortunately, this doesnt actually prove anything. We dont know if he is doing split tunneling or if all traffi is going over the vpn.

He needed to do a traceroute to netflix before and after connecting to vpn.

Now dont get me wrong, what he is saying is probably true anyway, and i have been hating verizon lately... but he left room for doubt and did not properly prove his testing method.

CalicalCarlos 5 months ago

verizon can steam redbox fine but throttles netflix there is something worng there

RudyGarcia 5 months ago

Javier isn't this your issue?

Mordymion 5 months ago

Figured this was kind of common knowledge by now.

ShaunBlackman 5 months ago

Well duh. Anyone expecting good performance with Verizon should have their head examined. Their performance is awful on their cellular network... why would their home service be any better?

Ramon Zarat 4 months ago

A class action lawsuit against Verizon seem to be in order.

They are clearly asking for it now with their net neutrality disinformation and propaganda + Time Warner merger attempt + very aggressive lobbying with tons of cash (legal bribe...) + shameless throttling. They wage war on all front. Time to retaliate.

nfs3freak 4 months ago

Why are we surprised by this? We all know they do shady stuff. Throttling? It's a given.

MADSKILLZ412 4 months ago

There could have been a lot of things slowing down the internet. Just because it started to become faster while using the VPN doesn't necessarily mean it is what fixed it.

JohnLaneSchultz 4 months ago

Just traceroute or use a similar tool and see if the packets are still flowing across the same peering point between Verizon and Level 3. If the path goes across a different peering point, then it may simply be that your regular peering point is congested. If both ways go over the same path, then you have very strong evidence that Verizon is specifically throttling Netflix rather than all traffic from Level 3.

kodiak0330 4 months ago

Yep. You need a before-VPN and during-VPN traceroute to compare. I have seen the same results, but since VyperVPN doesn't have a location in my city, I am CLEARLY traversing a different peering point. If you run the traceroutes and find they are using the same peer (if you can actually determine which hop is the peering point), then you'd have a case for a complaint. If not, then it is apples and oranges.

Its sort of like complaining that your normal exit off the interstate is ALWAYS clogged. So you go to the next exit and take the u-turn lane to reach the intersection from the other directiong to get home faster. In order to prove that different cars are getting through the clogged intersection faster than others, you'd have to ensure that they are all actually entering and exiting the intersection the same way.

The Internet was built on Settlement-Free peering. From the earliest days of the Internet, ISPs would peer with each other without charging fees if they were delivering roughly equal amounts of value (e.g. traffic) to each other. This benefited both ISPs and the Internet at large. However, if an ISP wished to connect to another ISP without bringing equal value, then that ISP would have to pay for the peering. A heirarchy of ISPs from small to medium to large to backbone was the result, with settlement-free peering being the primary business relationship.

However, when the traffic flow becomes significantly assymetrical, the benefits of interconnecting are much greater for the information-providing ISP than the information-consuming ISP. The relationship is no longer symmetrical, so settlement-free peering isn't used. Verizon, and others, aren't intentionally throttling the bandwidth. The negative press that would result from this would far exceed the cost of providing the interconnection or settlement-based peering.

Netflix is using Level 3 as one of their primary ISPs, which is their right to do. However, when Level 3 cannot access the end users directly they must use their peering relationships. They clearly would prefer settlement-free peering as this would be the cheapest way to peer with the end ISPs. However, they don't bring equivalent value in terms of reachability to the end ISPs so settlement-free peering isn't applicable.

This leaves two options:

1) Netflix peers directly with the main end-ISPs they wish to reach (which they are doing), paying for the peering since the relationship isn't symmetrical in nature, or

2) Level 3 pays for the peering.

Neflix is rolling out deeper peering and/or CDNs. It just takes time.

KeithPratt 4 months ago

"the benefits of interconnecting are much greater for the information-providing ISP than the information-consuming ISP"

What makes you assume this to be true? Wouldn't the ability to be able to provide their (verizon) customers with the content they want (in this case netflix/level3) be the exact product that they (verizon) are selling?

"However, when Level 3 cannot access the end users directly they must use their peering relationships."

Couldn't this just as easily be turned around? "When verizon can't access netflix directly it must use its peering relationship" seems to be just as valid a problem.

The internet is a 2 way street and both sides provide a different service. Each is useless without the other. That is why peering agreements have been the norm. Verizon wants to turn that on its head. Also if you have been reading around, check this out:

http://blog.level3.com/global-connectivity/verizons-accidental-mea-culpa/

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