Writings of a techie wizard
Archive: 2014‑Jul
Thu, 17 Jul 2014

The latest round of the Netflix-Verizon tiff that I recently blogged about has now appeared in a post by Verizon and a response from Level 3. First, Verizon purports to describe the problem and its solution:

Even though there is no congestion on our network, we're not satisfied if our customers are not. We fully understand that many of our customers want a great streaming experience with Netflix, and we want that too. Therefore, we are working aggressively with Netflix to establish new, direct connections from Netflix to Verizon's network.

Which sounds good, but now look at Level 3's response explaining what would actually be needed to fix the problem:

[W]e could fix this congestion in about five minutes simply by connecting up more 10Gbps ports on those routers. Simple. Something we've been asking Verizon to do for many, many months, and something other providers regularly do in similar circumstances. But Verizon has refused. So Verizon, not Level 3 or Netflix, causes the congestion. Why is that? Maybe they can’t afford a new port card because they've run out - even though these cards are very cheap, just a few thousand dollars for each 10 Gbps card which could support 5,000 streams or more. If that's the case, we’ll buy one for them. Maybe they can't afford the small piece of cable between our two ports. If that's the case, we'll provide it. Heck, we'll even install it.

In other words, Verizon wants Netflix to make a huge investment in a "direct connection" between the two networks, when all that's really needed is a few port cards and cables, the cost of which wouldn't even amount to rounding error in Verizon's accounting (and as you can see, they wouldn't even have to spend that since Level 3 has offered to cover all the costs).

But that seems daft: Verizon customers are having a serious problem that has a simple fix, yet Verizon refuses to allow that fix. What could Verizon possibly be thinking? Here's Level 3's answer to that:

This congestion only takes place between Verizon and network providers chosen by Netflix. The providers that Netflix does not use do not experience the same problem. Why is that? Could it be that Verizon does not want its customers to actually use the higher-speed services it sells to them? Could it be that Verizon wants to extract a pound of flesh from its competitors, using the monopoly it has over the only connection to its end-users to raise its competitors' costs?

If you're wondering how Netflix and Verizon are competitors, see here.

It's worth noting that Verizon's talk about "direct connection" leaves me wondering exactly what the Netflix-Verizon deal I referred to in my previous post was supposed to accomplish, since the whole point of that deal was supposed to be giving Netflix a direct connection to Verizon's network, similar to the deal it made with Comcast. But if that were really the case, Level 3, which is a transit provider, would not even come into the picture. It's possible that, as Ars Technica notes, Verizon is simply taking time to implement the direct connections that their deal with Netflix makes possible, and until that implementation is complete, at least a part of Netflix traffic to Verizon customers goes via Level 3. But Verizon's post, quoted above, certainly seems to imply that "direct connection" is an alternative to what Netflix is doing now, not something Netflix has already paid Verizon for but Verizon has not finished implementing yet. Either way, this confusion certainly doesn't help Verizon's credibility.

I'll leave you with this statement in Verizon's post, which is particularly ironic in view of all the above:

Verizon is focused on providing its customers with the best Internet experience possible.

As long as you don't try to experience Verizon's competitors, apparently.

Posted at 23:12   |   Category: opinions   |   Tags: computers, politics   |   Permalink
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