Has Your Netflix Been Streaming Slower Lately? There's a Sinister Reason for That.
If House of Cards seemed to be loading slowly in the middle of your binge party, you weren't imagining it.
Due to the standoff between Netflix and Verizon over how much content can be streamed without additional fees, the broadband provider is reportedly slowing Netflix down on purpose; according to the video site, "its average prime-time speeds dropped by 14% last month." And things don't look like they'll get better any time soon.
After a D.C. federal court struck down net neutrality last month, many expressed concern that telecom companies would hike up prices or force certain content providers to cough up more money to stream through their site — and the ongoing Netflix debacle shows that our worst fears are already coming true.
The conflict between broadband and content providers is tied to the ongoing issue of upgrading America's outdated Internet infrastructure. As more and more Americans stream video content, the need for updating existing connections has become glaringly clear. Now, the question is about who should bear the cost: the telecom companies, Internet intermediaries, the content providers, or the consumers.
In the meantime, major Internet providers are punishing Netflix for not wanting to pay additional fees:
These companies' argument is that since streaming sites such as Netflix and Amazon dump so much more content than average sites, they should have to pay more. "When one party's getting all the benefit and the other's carrying all the cost, issues will arise," said Craig Silliman, Verizon's head of public policy and government affairs.
Companies such as Google, Microsoft and Facebook already pay additional fees for direct connections and faster access to their sites.
Earlier this month, Verizon denied that it was intentionally sabotaging certain connections. "We treat all traffic equally, and that has not changed," the company said in a statement. "Many factors can affect the speed of a customer’s experience for a specific site, including that site’s servers, the way the traffic is routed over the Internet and other considerations."
But with the net neutrality ruling, Internet providers are now allowed to give preferential treatment to certain sites — or in this case, hold sites and customers hostage. So the next time you want to hold a Netflix marathon, be prepared for that pesky buffering sign.