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Verizon and Netflix trade barbs in streaming dispute

Netflix Inc.Verizon CommunicationsNet NeutralityComcast Corporation
Netflix and Verizon take shots at each other over streaming issues

Netflix and Verizon are in a spat over who's to blame for slow streams.

Recently, Netflix started displaying a message to customers whose viewing experience was being delayed by buffering.

"The Verizon Network is crowded right now," the notice said.

Asked on Twitter about the notice, Netflix spokesman Jonathan Friedland said, "we're always testing new ways to keep members informed."

Verizon doesn't think Netflix is keeping its customers informed with the truth, however. David Young, Verizon's vice president of federal regulatory affairs put out a statement on its public policy blog Wednesday saying Netflix is misleading its customers about what's really going on.

"The source of the problem is almost certainly NOT congestion in Verizon's network," Young said. "Instead, the problem is most likely congestion on the connection that Netflix has chosen to use to reach Verizon's network."

Young added that, "it would be more accurate for Netflix's message screen to say: 'The path that we have chosen to reach Verizon’s network is crowded right now.' However, that would highlight their responsibility for the problem."

Netflix has been very vocal in criticizing Internet service providers over streaming issues. Many of the ISPs have fired back that Netflix, which accounts for a large chunk of Internet traffic, is trying to shift the blame away from itself and attempting to turn business disputes into a public policy issue.

In February, Netflix reached a deal to pay Comcast in return for a direct connection to the cable giant's broadband network. Previously, Netflix paid third-party providers for such access to Comcast's network.

Netflix struck a similar pact with Verizon.

But since those agreements, Netflix has suggested that if it hadn't agreed to pay, its customers would have received an inferior product and has tried to use the deals to make the case for a need for tougher regulation of the Internet.

The ISPs have countered that Netflix is trying to confuse consumers and lawmakers by attempting to tie its streaming issues to net neutrality and an open Internet.

"It is sad that Netflix is willing to deliberately mislead its customers so they can be used as pawns in business negotiations and regulatory proceedings," Young said.

Copyright © 2014, Los Angeles Times
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