When big phone companies get into serious public relations problems, they usually call the lawyers first and ask questions later. That’s exactly what Verizon did after Netflix began posting messages at its site calling out the carrier for poor video streams on Wednesday.
Netflix is not singling out Verizon. Anytime streaming performance goes south for one of its members, Netflix detects what ISP the member is using and posts one of these:
Above: The new in-player notifications Netflix is displaying for Verizon Internet subscribers experiencing streaming quality issues.
Netflix says it’s only “testing” the messages, adding that it has no intentions of bowing to Verizon’s wishes.
Verizon says it’s not at fault for pixilated or interrupted streams. “There is no basis for Netflix to assert that issues with respect to playback of any particular video session are attributable solely to the Verizon network,” Verizon says in its cease-and-desist letter to Netflix.
“As Netflix knows, there are many different factors that can affect traffic on the internet, including choices by Netflix in how to connect to its customers and deliver content to them, interconnection between multiple networks, and consumer in-home issues such as in-home wiring, Wi-Fi, and device settings and capabilities,” writes Verizon’s public policy chief Randal Milch in the letter.
It is true that Verizon manages only the last mile of the broadband network. But Verizon has already exacted payment from Netflix for the right to connect video servers directly to the carrier’s network, and Verizon holds that that still isn’t enough to guarantee solid streams.
We’ll have more as the standoff develops.