Customers of Verizon have noticed a decrease in their mobile data speeds especially being limited whenever they streamed or accessed videos on Netflix and YouTube. This has sparked a response in Verizon to optimize video applications on its mobile network in order to satisfy Verizon Wireless subscribers.
The speed cap by Verizon was noticed by both users of Reddit and the mobile-focused Howard Forums. Verizon users in both threads reported slower speeds than what they had been left to believe by Verizon advertisements and services whenever streaming Netflix and YouTube. A majority reported the speed maximums around 10 megabytes per second (Mbps) whenever using these services on their mobile data network.
To counter suppositions that the entire network was performing slower than usual, the same users also reported that they were receiving the normal, faster download speeds Verizon offers and advertises when connecting to other apps and websites. This suggests that this was not just a bug or mobile traffic issue, but rather a tampering or direct influence over Netflix’s and YouTube’s streaming services.
Specifically, in Netflix’s case, a majority of those who noticed the change are largely using internet speed test tool called Fast.com. Fast.com connects to and is directly powered by Netflix’s servers, serving as a barometer for overall Netflix speeds. A similar internet service tool is Ookla’s Speedtest.net, which measures overall internet speeds. When comparing the results of both tools, it was found that the speeds reported by Fast.com were significantly slower that the overall internet speeds.
In order to continue testing and ensure the problem was at Verizon’s end, users also tried using a VPN to access both Netflix and YouTube. VPNs circumvent a direct connection to Verizon’s mobile data networks, which removes any impact Verizon may have on internet streaming speeds. Results show that with a VPN both Netflix and YouTube had much faster streaming speeds.
Netflix has in the past tampered with both AT&T and Verizon users streaming speeds in order to still provide users with an acceptable video quality without pushing users over their monthly data caps and having to pay larger fees. Despite their good intentions, Netflix faced some backlash, and have since last year stopped this practice, and therefore has nothing to do with the lower speeds Verizon users are reporting. Netflix has also reported that Fast.com is not having any technical difficulties.
On the other hand, Verizon have acknowledged that it has been doing network testing in recent days, but cited the video experience issues reported by users as something that should not have been affected. Despite substantial evidence arguing that user’s video experience had been altered, Verizon state that customer experience was not affected by the network testing. Verizon have not clarified what the network testing consisted of, and have given no reports regarding speed capping for Netflix, YouTube or other streaming services.
There is tension between mobile network providers and streaming services as the Republican-led Federal Communications Commission is on the verge of overturning its existing net-neutrality rules. These rules are designed to prevent mobile network providers like Verizon from blocking, restricting or limiting certain websites indiscriminately or creating fast lanes that allow services to be delivered faster in exchange for financial payment.
It should be noted that 10 Mbps is a sufficient internet streaming speed for even HD video streaming, with only 4K video experiences suffering. Considering that only a few mobile phones are capable of streaming 4K resolution videos, the overall impact does not completely restrict user access to video streaming. However, the main issue is not the quality of the video streaming, but that paying Verizon customers are not receiving the appropriate services that they pay for.
Featured Image via Flickr/Mike Mozart