Following in the footsteps of Netflix, YouTube has become the next streaming service to blame the speed of videos on internet service providers. The website has added an error message to all videos which reads “Experiencing interruptions?” whenever a video has choppy load times or stops playing altogether.
The error message links to Google’s new website that provides a breakdown of video playback quality for internet service providers (ISPs) in numerous countries. Google, which owns YouTube, believes ISPs should be held responsible for providing consistent high-quality video streaming. According to Business Insider, “Streaming content companies…want to make sure everyone has equal, fast access to their service…public shaming is their way of letting the public know internet providers are the ones in control.”
The news of YouTube blaming internet service providers for the speed of videos came almost exactly a month after Netflix launched a similar campaign against ISPs in regards to video quality. This is only the latest in a series of squabbles concerning net neutrality—a concept which states that all data must have equal access to high-speed transmission. Youtube’s approach to the situation is less direct than Netflix’s public shaming of Verizon, but the end goal of determining how and why video playback is deteriorating remains the same.
In response to these recent allegations, many ISPs are citing the inevitability of crowded networks and suggesting video services find less congested routes for streaming their data. Possible solutions include investing in direct connections provided by ISPs for a fee. When Netflix’s download speeds began faltering towards the end of 2013, the company signed agreements with Comcast and Verizon allowing for faster internet speeds. According to Netflix’s ISP speed index, download speeds improved for both providers, though only marginally for Verizon customers.
The U.S. Federal Communications Commission is heading closer towards a proposed set of rules that would essentially eliminate the idea of net neutrality altogether. If successful, the proposal would allow ISPs to charge streaming companies for premium bandwidth. This would effectively force websites such as YouTube and Netflix to shell out extra dollars every month in order to continue providing their users quality download speeds. Additionally, streaming services would have no choice but to increase their monthly subscription in order to cover these new costs.
Google has remained relatively quiet throughout these discussions. This is in direct contradiction to four years ago when the company was central to the efforts in creating new regulations on net neutrality. Instead, Google appears to be more focused on public relations. Google’s ISP Index is available in 20 countries and provides information about how well its services function in conjunction with a range of ISPs. Google’s Video Quality Report, recently utilized by YouTube to allow users to determine the relationship between video playback and the consumer’s ISP, is currently available in the United States, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand. Google has also begun labeling some ISPs with a “Youtube HD Verified” seal to reflect satisfactory video playback.
YouTube has begun to place blame upon internet service providers for the speed of videos. According to Google, there are several factors that can impact playback quality, but it cannot be denied some ISPs are having a detrimental influence.
By Samuel Williams