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Verizon, responding to complaints from Netflix about its broadband service, says Netflix is slowing down its own video streams to the telco’s providers.

If that sounds confusing, that’s because it is. And if that sounds familiar, there’s a reason for that, too: In April, Comcast made a similar claim about Netflix. And like Comcast, Verizon has signed a deal with Netflix that’s supposed to alleviate Web traffic headaches.

This is the kind of he said, he said that’s nearly impossible to explain coherently, in part because reasonable people disagree about some of the basic technical points.

But I’ll try:

  • Both Verizon and Comcast have deals that are supposed to help Netflix deliver its streams into the broadband networks both companies operate, via a direct connection.
  • Comcast signed their Netflix deal in late February, and since then Netflix has said its speeds have improved.
  • But Verizon says that it is still implementing technical changes to accommodate the Netflix deal it signed in April.
  • So for now, Verizon says, Netflix is still responsible for getting its streams into Verizon’s network, and it is doing a lousy job of it. Key sentences from a blog post (titled “Shifting Blame”) Verizon published this afternoon: “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. Of course, Netflix is solely responsible for choosing how their traffic is routed into any ISP’s network.”

I’ve asked Netflix for a response but I don’t expect to get one.

That said, we did ask both Comcast CEO Brian Roberts and Netflix CEO Reed Hastings to talk about their dispute — and partnership — last week at the Code Conference. And since Verizon’s story seems to emulate Comcast’s so closely, you might get some benefit out of watching their comments.

* Comcast owns NBCUniversal, which is a minority investor in Re/code.




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