New York-based Verizon user finds Netflix to be nearly 10x faster with a VPN than without it
Netflix and Verizon are now locked in a blame game over the sluggish performance of the former’s video streaming service on the latter’s network. This despite Netflix (grudgingly) agreeing to pay Verizon to ensure the smooth delivery of its streaming video content to the ISP’s subscribers. Regardless of who’s to blame, it’s paying customers of both companies who are being made to suffer for no fault of theirs. One such end user caught in the crossfire, New York-based entrepreneur Colin Nederkoorn, posted a video exposing the severity of the issue. The video has since gone viral, having amassed over 400,000 views on YouTube.
WiMAX network operator Clearwire is facing the legal ire of customers upset over what they deem deceptive practices. At issue is the company's throttling practices that leave users without the bandwidth they paid for. Many are also assessed an early termination fee when they try to leave. The customers have a compelling case, and Clearwire's response has thus far been lacking.
Boy Genius Report discovered a new memo (PDF) up on Verizon Wireless' website that's sure to ruffle a few feathers, particularly if you're one of the wireless carrier's heaviest data users. Here's the short and sweet of it:
"If you use an extraordinary amount of data and fall within the top 5 percent of Verizon Wireless data users we may reduce your data throughput speeds periodically for the remainder of your then current and immediately following billing cycle to ensure high quality network performance for other users at locations and times of peak demand," Verizon explains.
Many wondered how Verizon would handle the increased data demands that an influx of upcoming iPhone 4 subscribers would put on its network, and here's your answer, or at least one of them. The wireless carrier also said it's "implementing optimization and transcoding technologies" to help transmit data more efficiently. These techniques will include caching less data, using less capacity, and sizing the video more appropriately for the device, Verizon said.
There's a huge difference between 100Mbps and 64Kbps, and throttling the former to the latter has earned Austrian ISP "Optus" a date with a judge.
According to the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC), Optus misled consumers with its "Supersonic" and "Think Bigger" broadband plans, violating the Trade Practices Act in the process. The ACCC points out 11 television, print, billboard, and Internet advertisements claiming the Supersonic services are "four times faster than standard broadband," but fail to disclose the almost dial-up speeds for users who chew through their monthly data limit.
The data caps sit at 50GB for peak hours (12am to 12pm) and 70GB for off-peak hours (12pm to 12am), and those who go over will see their supersonic 100Mbps throttled to a super slow 64Kbps. Absent, however, are any excess usage charges.
Even so, the ACCC "alleges that Optus engaged in misleading or deceptive conduct and made false representations in relation to the advertising of certain broadband plans." To help with their case, regulators plan to call in an expert to examine the practical differences between 100Mbps and 64Kbps by going over what services and apps can be realistically be used on each speed grade.
This isn't the first time Optus' advertising practices have landed the company in hot water. Back in June, the ACCC took Optus to court on similar charges for using the word "unlimited" to describe voice and data plans that had usage caps and prices.
Some users of Netflix’s streaming service have groused about dwindling performance in recent times. The dip in performance has not only nettled users but also engendered speculation as to its cause. The most plausible conjecture is that video streams are being deliberately throttled by Netflix.
“Also, routing to different ISPs in the same region may be quite different, thus performance may also be quite different, even for neighbors, if they are connected to different ISPs. Moreover, congesting points can rise and fall with ISP configuration changes and other conditions,” Hunt wrote.
All systems are go for Comcast, who confirmed to DSL Reports it has implemented its broadband throttling system across all markets. The two-condition throttling system works by first examining aggregate traffic usage data for individual segments of Comcast's high-speed internet (HSI) network. If the overall upstream or downstream usage reaches a predetermined level, the software system then identifies which subscribers are using a disproportionate share of the bandwidth and assigns them a lower priority status. According to Comcast, throttling won't actually occur "so long as the network segment is not actually congested" (see Comcast's filings with the FCC in PDF form).
It will take a sustained use of 70 percent of the downstream throughput for a user to be assigned a lower priority, which will remain that way until usage drops to 50 percent of the provisioned upstream or downstream bandwidth for about 15 minutes. In this throttled state, traffic may or may not be delayed or dropped, depending on the overall demand, Comcast says.
In the past, Comcast received heavy criticism over its decision to use forged TCP packets to throttle upstream P2P services no matter how much bandwidth a user was consuming. This new system of identifying and potentially thwarting bandwidth hogs sounds a fair bit, well, more fair than the ISP's previous approach, but we'd like to hear your thoughts on the matter.
Do you like what Comcast is doing? Hit the jump and sound off.