Verizon Sends Netflix Cease-and-Desist Letter Over On-Screen Warnings

Varizon Cease and Dissest Letter Netflix
Paul Morigi/Getty Images for Netflix

Verizon fired off a cease-and-desist letter to Netflix on Thursday after the streaming service started posting warnings blaming the Internet provider when subscribers experience low-quality video.

In Verizon’s letter, its executive vice president Randal Milch writes that “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.”

Netflix’s error message, as identified by Vox Media’s Yuri Victor on Wednesday, reads, “The Verizon network is crowded right now. Adjusting video for smoother playback.”

SEE ALSO: Netflix Now Tells Users When Their ISPs Are Slow in Web Browser Messages

The messages stem from an escalating dispute over how Netflix content is connected to a subscriber’s Internet provider — what are called “interconnection” agreements. Netflix contends that it has been forced to deal directly with Comcast and with Verizon to ensure that their systems are not congested and subscribers don’t get degraded signals. Netflix CEO Reed Hastings has objected to “big ISPs extracting a toll [for the interconnection] because they can.”

But Comcast has said that it was Netflix that chose to enter an agreement, announced in February, rather than go through a third-party service. Netflix reached an interconnection agreement with Verizon in April.

In a blog post, Verizon’s David Young called Netflix’s error message a “P.R. stunt” and added, “The source of the problem is almost certainly NOT congestion in Verizon’s network. Instead, the problem is most likely congestion on the connection that Netflix has chosen to use to reach Verizon’s network.”

In the cease-and-desist letter, Verizon’s Milch writes that “Netflix’s false accusations have the potential to harm the Verizon brand in the marketplace,” giving customers the impression that their network is “generally ‘crowded’ and troublesome.”

A spokesman for Netflix said that “this is about consumers not getting what they paid for from their broadband provider. We are trying to provide more transparency, just like we do with the ISP Speed Index, and Verizon is trying to shut down that discussion.”

In March, Hastings suggested that big Internet providers were charging interconnection fees even though customers have already paid for service. “When an ISP sells a consumer a 10 or 50 megabits-per-second Internet package, the consumer should get that rate, no matter where the data is coming from,” he wrote.

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  1. kevyn mader says:

    I’m pretty sure that streaming a Netflix movie over Comcast broadband blew my LG blue ray player out!

  2. Jackson says:

    Netflix needs to get together with Google and start expanding that fiber network. With both of them working together they can really expand across the country and put true fear into Verizon, Comcast and others.

  3. Burying says:

    ISPs are already seen as the enemy. These guys are buying themselves. All it takes is corporate antics like this and a small shift in innovation for their total model to go under. If Verizon comcast etc continues this 5 to 10 years from now it’ll be the end of them. Good riddance.

  4. JoelR says:

    Just last night, I watched a Netflix film via FIOS. At 11:00 PM, I couldn’t get above 380 (on what should have been a 1080p image.) Nor did any message from Netflix pop-up. I did finally get 1080p…at 2 AM!! Plus, there is no access to Netflix 3D from Verizon. The way I see it, Verizon doesn’t need any help in harming the brand.

  5. ocdjm says:

    Good for Netflix. These giant telecoms have us all by the balls

  6. Dustin says:

    I agree with Netflix, due to a situation I had with Verizon. I managed a Goodyear store in Ca. And we used Verizon for Internet service. Ayer multiple crashes or IT dept. Found it to be on Verizon side. Verizon sent out a repair guy who said he fixed it by turning up the area amp. Next day crash, Verizon then said yes it was there problem that the area our store was in is way to congested for our stores system and they were not going to fix it. We might want to find another carrier. We went with Sky river.

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