US Netflix subscribers notice streaming is getting very poor

Why Netflix streaming is getting worse and worse

News By Ryan Whitwam Feb. 21, 2014 9:30 am Netflix
http://www.geek.com/news/why-netflix-streaming-is-getting-worse-and-worse-1585416/

Many Netflix subscribers in the US have been noticing a troubling trend. Even with super-fast connections, video quality has been on a downward slide in recent months. While ISPs would never admit to anything, a number of reports claim the slowdown is part of a standoff over the cost of carrying all that Netflix traffic. It seems Comcast, Verizon, and the other big names are happy to let Netflix degrade to make a point.

Netflix itself confirms the streaming speeds on major ISPs has fallen by an average of 14% in just the last 30 days. That’s enough to degrade an HD stream to mediocre SD. Some subscribers can’t even watch video without constant buffering. In some cases, running traffic through a VPN can dramatically boost speeds, which is suspicious all by itself.

The Wall Street Journal reports that Netflix traffic through internet backbone provider Cogent has quadrupled in the last six months as Netflix has expanded 1080p HD streams to all customers. ISPs are upset about the increased cost of delivering those bits to subscribers and want Netflix to pay additional fees to cover its usage. In an effort to compel the streaming company to agree, ISPs have allegedly delayed connection upgrades that would alleviate the increasing congestion.

Most ISPs have peering relationships with bandwidth providers like Cogent. Each party carries a certain amount of data for the other, and no one has to pay any money out of pocket. However, the increase in Netflix traffic has unbalanced the agreements and could lead to ISPs paying larger bandwidth bills. With net neutrality currently on the ropes, perhaps ISPs feel more confident in trying to extract fees from Netflix to deliver its traffic. Although, no one is admitting to that, and Verizon specifically denies it.

This is all happening in the background for consumers. The intricacies of peering, content delivery networks, and congestion don’t register — all subscribers know is Netflix doesn’t work as well as it used to.

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