Pour one out for net neutrality. Oh, and your Netflix binge sessions while you’re at it.
As the FCC prepares to gut the regulations that require internet providers treat all online content equally, Verizon Wireless apparently decided to just get on with the damn thing and appeared to begin throttling the speed of some users’ video downloads. And, as no one likes the threat of their favorite show stuck in buffering hell, you’d better believe Netflix subscribers are pissed.
On July 19, internet sleuths noticed something fishy was going on and took to Reddit to share evidence of what they saw as Verizon Wireless’s plan to ruin their stream-life. Specifically, it appeared that the company was capping video-download speeds at 10Mbps.
“Whats [sic] the point of net neutrality, if they’re still gonna throttle my shit,” wondered one redditor.
“There’s fuckery afoot.”
And while net neutrality is certainly in its last days, narrowly targeting Netflix with speed caps would still be in violation of the law. So what’s the deal? Does Verizon just not give a shit?
It turns out the company isn’t just messing with Netflix — it’s capping all kinds of video-download speeds (temporarily, they insist). Including on YouTube, and other platforms. Although it says customers won’t be affected, users beg to differ.
“We’re always looking for ways to optimize our network without impacting our customers’ experience,” the company said in a wonderful non-statement provided to Ars Technica — while at the same time confirming to The Verge that a 10Mbps cap was indeed in place.
Notably, this isn’t the first time Verizon and Netflix have sparred. The New York Times reports that in 2014 the streaming platform showed some users a popup informing them that Verizon was to blame for slow speeds.
This didn’t make the California-based company any friends at Verizon, who, according to the Times, through a spokesperson blasted the message as “deliberately misleading.”
So is this just Verizon rehashing old beefs? Nah, not according to your friendly neighborhood telecommunications company. They’re just optimizing, remember? And anyway, they’re going to stop soon — they promise.
“The testing should be completed shortly,” the company said in a statement to The Verge. “The customer video experience was not affected.”
Reddit users checking their own video-download speeds might beg to differ.
But with net neutrality in its death throes, the latest “test” by Verizon Wireless is likely to become the norm. In other words, Netflix users should brace themselves for a whole lot of fuckery.