Verizon Slows Netflix Traffic

John Lister's picture

Verizon has admitted to slowing down connection speeds for users watching online video. But it insists it was part of a test and was not a deliberate attempt to penalize Netflix.

Users noticed the slowdown last week thanks to, a special website Netflix launched last year to let people test their connection speeds. Multiple sources reported getting slower figures on this site than on other speed testing sites. That's significant, as tests the speed by sending data to and from Netflix's servers, unlike other speed testing sites.

That led some to infer that Verizon was deliberately slowing down Netflix's traffic in comparison to other sites. That would be a clear breach of the principle of net neutrality that says Internet providers must treat all traffic equally. For now at least, Federal Communications Commission rules uphold this principle.

Picture Quality Likely Unaffected

This is definitely a case of principle rather than practice. Those running the tests said the speed appeared to be capped at around 10 to 12 Mbps, which is about as low as you can go without a noticeable effect on people streaming Netflix in the best picture quality.

The slowdown still attracted attention, however, given the long-running suspicion that some Internet providers believe Netflix should pay them a fee given that so much data is used on streaming its services. That has sparked fears that providers might slow down Netflix access to pressure the company into paying up.

In this case, it appears the slowdown may have been aimed at all Internet video rather than Netflix specifically. Some Verizon users noted that switching to a Virtual Private Network (which obscures which site you are connected to) tripled their data connection speed to YouTube. (Source:

Verizon Cites 'Optimization'

Verizon issued a media statement reading "We've been doing network testing over the past few days to optimize the performance of video applications on our network. The testing should be completed shortly. The customer video experience was not affected." (Source: The company hasn't yet replied to questions about whether the slowing down of video sites breached any laws or regulations.

What's Your Opinion?

Do you believe Verizon when it says this was just a test? Does slowing down some sites matter if it doesn't affect usability? Should Internet providers be allowed to intentionally slow connections to some websites?

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f58tammy's picture

Yes this was a test to make sure their system will do what they want once net-neutrality is removed by the FCC. Other IPS's will soon be conducting their own system wide testing in preparation for that glorious wonderful day.
It will not matter what public comments the FCC has gotten or will get this is already been determine to be the future.

Rusty's picture

I think we all can easily guess that any such tests are probably designed for Verizon to ensure that it can take full advantage if and when net neutrality laws are reversed. Of course, the current political climate seems to be leaning heavily toward reversal. Sad to say, I wish that was the worst threat we face. The new normals of the US political landscape are beyond distressing.