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Can We All Just Get Along? Netflix Pulls Back on Verizon Feud (UPDATE)

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by Jacob Combs
June 10, 2014 12:50 PM
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OK, seriously, corporate overlords--can we all just get along?  This is starting to look like high school!

Last week, a quick-triggered Twitter user posted a photo of his Netflix account's buffering screen that included a pointed jab at one of its Internet frenemies: "The Verizon network is crowded right now.  Adjusting video for smoother playback..."

Alright.  Wig snatched, Netflix.  According to Time, Netflix users have been suffering slow streaming speeds on Verizon FiOS connections in the last few months, after Netflix agreed this April to pay Verizon "to establish a direct connection to its network to deliver video content across the “last mile” into users’ homes."  Netflix is ideologically opposed to such a move, however, and they've been communicating that displeasure to their users.


"We are trying out different ways to keep our members informed,” Netflix spokesman Joris Evers said in an email to Time. "This is a test that isn’t limited to Verizon."

In response, Verizon posted on its blog Wednesday afternoon that Netflix was actually to blame for the slow speeds.  "The problem is most likely congestion on the connection that Netflix has chosen to use to reach Verizon’s network," Verizon asserted.  "Of course, Netflix is solely responsible for choosing how their traffic is routed into any ISP’s network. It is sad that Netflix is willing to deliberately mislead its customers so they can be used as pawns in business negotiations and regulatory proceedings."

Looks like Verizon isn't getting invited to Netflix's prom after-party.  But that's not all.  Now, this battle looks like it's about to blow up for real--as in, the whole school's going to know about it.  Again, from Time:

"What was a minor skirmish between Verizon and Netflix looks set to become a full-blown battle after Verizon sent Netflix a cease-and-desist letter Thursday demanding that Netflix stop blaming Verizon for slow streaming speeds.

"'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,' the letter reads. 'As Netflix knows, there are many different factors that can affect traffic on the Internet.'"

Verizon is threatening further legal action unless Netflix hands over the name of every customer who saw the message blaming Verizon for slow streaming speeds and provides proof that it was Verizon's network that caused the slowdown within the next five days.

Who needs scripted entertainment when the very companies we rely on to bring us our beloved shows are putting on an even better reality show performance for us almost daily now?

If you really want to get into the legal weeds on this one, you can read Verizon's full cease-and-desist letter, after the break.

UPDATE: It worked. As of Monday, Netflix seems to be making peace with Verizon, stating on a Netflix blog that it will stop running those messages -- at least temporarily -- by June 16.

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More: Netflix, VOD/Streaming

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