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Verizon Rails Against Netflix ISP-Shaming

Netflix and Verizon Communications are business partners, but the events of last week suggest that their relationship is fraying as the telco threatened to pursue legal action against the streaming video giant.

At issue is a new tactic Netflix is using that outs last-mile broadband providers by name if it believes it is the ISP’s fault that Netflix streams are having a tough time reaching customers. In a highly-cited example, Yuri Victor of Vox Media last week tweeted a screenshot of a Netflix browser message that read: “The Verizon network is crowded right now. Adjusting video for smoother playback …”

Verizon initially labeled the practice a “PR stunt” designed to push Netflix’s desire to include paid peering deals in the discussion as the Federal Communications Commission pursues fresh network-neutrality rules. The telco took it up a notch last Thursday (June 5) when it presented Netflix with a letter demanding that the OTT programmer discontinue what Verizon described as “self-serving, deceptive, and an unfair business practice.”