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Netflix: RCN is Tops in Boston

Netflix said RCN delivered the highest quality Netflix video streams in the greater Boston region in the second quarter, outperforming a handful of other ISPs that operate in the area. The result also shines the spotlight on one of Netflix’s Open Connect partners.

Netflix, in its first ever Regional Netflix ISP Speed Index Snapshot, noted in this blog post that RCN delivered average Netflix streams of 2.42 Mbps, ahead of Charter Communications (2.19 Mbps), Verizon FiOS (2.15 Mbps), Comcast (2.13 Mbps), Time Warner Cable (2.05 Mbps), Fairpoint (1.59 Mbps) and Verizon DSL (1.42 Mbps).

Netflix, as it’s done with its previous global rankings of major ISPs, is using these rankings to nudge consumers in the direction of broadband service providers that deliver the best Netflix experience.

“This is useful information for consumers when picking an ISP, especially for those thousands of university students who are moving to Boston before school begins,” Greg Peters, Netflix’s chief streaming and partnerships officer, noted in the blog post. “In Boston, RCN delivers a very impressive connection, offering equal or better quality than fiber to the home.”

What the post did not point out is that RCN is a member of Open  Connect, Netflix’s private content delivery network.

The Netflix Open Connect program, offered free to ISPs, features the Open Connect Appliance, a 4-unit high caching chassis (pictured at left) that contains the most popular Netflix content. Netflix argues that Open Connect, which calls for partners to install the caching device on the edge of their networks, helps ISPs keep streaming traffic in check.

But the policies surrounding Open Connect aren’t free of controversy. Time Warner Cable has complained that the program unfairly holds back content in an attempt to get preferential treatment from ISPs because only Open Connect members get access to Netflix’s library of  “Super HD” (1080p) and 3D content.

In addition to RCN, other known Netflix Open Connect partners include Cablevision Systems, Google Fiber, Suddenlink Communications, Virgin Media, British Telecom, Frontier, Clearwire, GVT, Bell Canada, Telmex and Telus. Cox Communications has formally announced its participation, but has acknowledged that its broadband customers have access to Netflix’s SuperHD library.

Peters wrote that Netflix intends to publish more regional snapshots, and “highlight certain markets to showcase where ISPs are delivering a great Netflix experience to consumers.”

Google Fiber, Cablevision and Cox topped Netflix’s USA ISP speed index for July 2013. It has not yet released results for August.