Verizon admits to “optimizing” amid accusations of Netflix throttling

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Verizon and Netflix are on opposite ends of another battle, though this one technically does not involve net neutrality.

Subscribers to Big Red have reported seeing download speeds of up to 10Mbps on Fast.com, Netflix’s speed analysis tool, compared with their usual speeds of anywhere above 75Mbps or 80Mbps on other apps such as Speedtest.

Verizon told The Verge and Ars Technica today that this was all done as part of a test.

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.

Full HD streaming on Netflix’s “Unlimited” mode — which the company itself reported to use up to 3GB per hour — would only need a rough average of 6.67Mbps, so for practicality’s sake, the speed cap does leave room for buffering.

People are complaining, though, that all video services were affected. YouTube and even Verizon’s own go90 service are all capped at 10Mbps. Those who prefer to stream at Quad HD or Ultra HD resolutions say that contrary to what the Verizon spokesperson said, they have had their viewing experiences affected.

However, it is this “equal treatment” of video providers that the FCC has allowed as an exception to its net neutrality guidelines set back in 2015. The original and current stipulation for video streaming on the Verizon Unlimited plan mentions “HD video streaming”. Ironically, the bucketed (limited) data plans don’t have any stipulations on video streaming. It also allows for a “traffic management” throttling threshold — in this case, Verizon sets 22GB as that point during a billing cycle for users of its Unlimited plan.

That said, Verizon traffic through a VPN to these video streaming sites has not been affected. But many aren’t eager to see these technicalities mess around with what they believe to be a crisis of net neutrality.

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About The Author
Jules Wang

Jules Wang is News Editor for Pocketnow and one of the hosts of the Pocketnow Weekly Podcast. He came onto the team in 2014 as an intern editing and producing videos and the podcast while he was studying journalism at Emerson College. He graduated the year after and entered into his current position at Pocketnow, full-time.