Verizon Sends Cease And Desist To Netflix Over Video Quality Error Message, Netflix Caves (Sort Of)

Netflix and Verizon are in a bit of a spat at present. The issue is that some Netflix users on Verizon networks started seeing an error message when experiencing a laggy connection that said “The Verizon network is crowded right now” followed by a note that said Netflix was “Adjusting video for smoother playback”.

It certainly seemed to be a direct shot at Verizon by Netflix, and the former was (predictably) none too pleased. In addition to a scathing blog post penned by Verizon’s David Young--”This claim [of the Verizon network being the cause of lag] is not only inaccurate, it is deliberately misleading”, he wrote in part--the company actually sent Netflix a cease and desist letter demanding that the streaming video provider take down the error message, threatening litigation for non-compliance.

netflix error
Credit: Yuri Victor/Washington Post

Netflix appears to be complying, but in any case it’s not admitting to anything and hasn’t mentioned Verizon at all. Instead, Netflix’s Joris Evers addressed the issue in a blog post discussing the company’s monthly ISP Speed Index report.

“We started a small scale test in early May that lets consumers know, while they’re watching Netflix, that their experience is degraded due to a lack of capacity into their broadband provider’s network,” wrote Evers, who also stated that this particular trial would end on June 16th.

netflix isp speed

In a dig to Verizon, Evers continued, “Some broadband providers argue that our actions, and not theirs, are causing a degraded Netflix experience. Netflix does not purposely select congested routes.” Netflix is saying that it’s the fault of the last-mile providers, like Verizon, are to blame for congestion.

Evers went on to rail against ISP toll booths, asserting that these ISPs are effectively double-dipping by making service subscribers as well as content providers to pay for access to one another.

One thing is clear: These two giants are at the beginning of what may be a very ugly slugfest. The best-case scenario is that some long-standing problems pertaining to Internet access and content provision are brought to light for very public scrutiny and maybe--just maybe--we’ll see some improvements to how things are done.