Verizon has slammed Netflix and played the blame game over a notice the site sent out to some of its subscribers over slow streaming, with Verizon calling the act a “PR stunt.” The notice attributed the slow service to Verizon’s congested network. Verizon sent the streaming site a cease-and-desist letter over Netflix’s “false accusations” for fear that they could hurt the company’s brand.
Netflix blamed Verizon for the slow buffering some customers experienced while using their computers to access the site. The notice read that the Verizon network was “crowded right now.” Verizon soon released a statement that said Netflix was wrong.
Randal Milch, Verizon’s general counsel, sent a letter to his peer at Netflix, David Hyman yesterday. Milch wrote that Netflix was wrong to blame the Internet service provider (ISP), adding that Verizon could not be held responsible for the playback issues and Netflix was to blame instead. He also wrote that “congestion issues” arose from Netflix not choosing to send traffic on freer network routes, and other factors such as Wi-Fi settings and network connections could have been causes of the slowed service.
David Young, Verizon’s vice president of federal regulatory affairs, slammed Netflix by calling the incident a “PR stunt” and “deliberately misleading” in a statement released on Wednesday after initial reports of Netflix’s slow streaming. Young added that Netflix controls its traffic routes with ISPs.
Netflix responded to Milch’s letter and the attention the notice received by saying that it was trying to give its customers “more transparency” when service issues came up. A Netflix spokesman added on Twitter that the company is always looking for new ways to keep subscribers informed with whatever problems arise. No additional comment has come from Netflix.
Verizon’s cease-and-desist letter orders Netflix to stop lying to customers about the cause of the slow buffering speeds. The company also wants evidence supporting the streaming site’s claims by Monday or else Netflix could face legal action.
About a month ago, Netflix and Verizon signed a deal to ensure that the streaming site’s customers with this ISP would have better service. Netflix is to pay for direct access to Verizon’s network and would not have to face issues such as what some customers experienced earlier this week.
The episode has brought the issue net neutrality back into the picture. Some sites with the money may soon be able to pay ISPs for faster lanes in such networks. The question of how free and open the Internet will be in future is yet to be answered.
With Netflix adding content every month and renewing shows that are original to the site, the service provides a break from commercials on live television and pop-ups from sites that host illegal links to content. Subscribers have much more control over what they want to watch while being spoilt for choice. New customers have seen an increase in service charges, with older subscribers having more time to still pay the $7.99 streaming-only fee every month.
This incident does not affect the aforementioned deal as of late. Young wrote that he hopes the event is not a bad foreshadowing of things to come regarding Netflix’s relations with business partners and the two companies’ “mutual customers.”
Whether Verizon will be satisfied with whatever evidence Netflix provides to disprove the alleged PR stunt over slow streaming is yet to be seen after having slammed the site. With Orange is the New Black back for its second season and hundreds of on-demand options, many customers would want a smooth viewing experience, whichever ISP they choose to subscribe to.
By Sibylla Chipaziwa