Netflix’s formal response to Verizon’s cease-and-desist is another boatload of snark


(Netflix via Yuri Victor)

Netflix may be ending a series of controversial new error messages for now, but it's also doubling down on claims that Verizon is at fault when it comes to breakdowns in video streaming. And Netflix's latest broadside against the Internet provider is characteristically flippant.

The blow comes in response to a Verizon cease-and-desist letter sent to Netflix last week. In the letter, Verizon demanded that Netflix stop telling users that drops in streaming performance was the result of congestion on Verizon's network — and threatened to sue if Netflix didn't provide evidence backing up its claims.

Now Netflix has refused to comply with Verizon's data request, instead reiterating arguments that Verizon hasn't done enough to accommodate its subscribers' requests for streaming video.

"As an ISP, you sell your customers a connection to the Internet," Netflix wrote late Monday in its formal response. "To try to shift blame to us for performance issues arising from interconnection congestion is like blaming drivers on a bridge for traffic jams when you're the one who decided to leave three lanes closed during rush hour."

When asked whether Verizon intends to follow through on its threats of a lawsuit, a Verizon spokesperson didn't immediately respond to a request for comment.

Whoever's to blame, Verizon and Netflix came to a commercial agreement weeks ago to try and resolve the congestion, but the problems have persisted as Verizon's worked to upgrade its equipment as part of the deal.

Until recently, Netflix had been paying third-party companies to help bring videos to the edge of Verizon's network, at which point Verizon would take control of the data and transfer it to consumers. But a surge of Netflix traffic last year meant that the video company — and by extension, its third-party partners — was suddenly serving up way more data than ISPs were used to handling.

Another ISP, Comcast, told the Post that over a six-month period last year, traffic volume from Netflix ballooned 500 percent when a more typical growth rate would have been around 10 to 15 percent. The resulting dispute was what led to Comcast's paid commercial agreement with Netflix earlier this year.

Netflix argues that Internet providers have a responsibility to deliver to consumers what they've paid for.

"We brought the data to your doorstep," Netflix wrote. "All you had to do was open your door."

 

Brian Fung covers technology for The Washington Post, focusing on telecom, broadband and digital politics. Before joining the Post, he was the technology correspondent for National Journal and an associate editor at the Atlantic.
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