Two tech companies who share red as a corporate color are now seeing red over each other's actions, or lack thereof.
Internet provide and telecommunications giant Verizon on Thursday sent a cease-and-desist letter to Netflix, the streaming video service, over the latter's public shaming of Verizon over alleged broadband bottleneck issues that Netflix is blaming on Verizon, AT&T and other Internet service providers.
It seems that some Netflix customers who experience buffer delays and interrupted streaming are shown an onscreen message, The Verizon network is crowded right now," attributing the data logjam to Verizon inadequacies.
Verizon has responded by stating "This claim is not only inaccurate, it is deliberately misleading. Instead, the problem is most likely congestion on the connection that Netflix has chosen to use to reach Verizon's network," wrote David Young, a Verizon spokesperson, in a blog. Verizon also pointed out that connection issues can be prevalent in-home, such as poor wiring, router malfunctions and incorrect device settings.
Young goes on to declare that Netflix is motivated to mislead customers as leverage for Netflix in business negotiations and regulatory proceedings. He claims the Netflix error message should state "The path we have chosen to reach Verizon's network is crowded right now."
Verizon, in the cease-and-desist letter, gives Netflix five days to show evidence that there is truth to their claims. Verizon also asked Netflix for a list of Verizon network customers to whom Netflix delivered the notices or face legal action. It is thought that Netflix dispatched the message to approximately 200,000 subscribers.
Netflix responded by insisting that what they call a notification is just a measure of support for transparency and is only being test-marketed to a segment of their customer base to "keep members informed," said spokesperson Jonathan Friedland.
He also went on to say "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."
This dispute occurs, oddly enough, in the glow of an agreement the two companies reached last month in which Netflix will pay for a direct connection to Verizon's network. This is similar to a deal Netflix already has in place with Comcast that appears to be providing improved service and better data throughput. Despite the current round of acrimony, both Verizon and Netflix say they will move forward on their deal.
This raises the question, did Comcast's service improve because they could afford to provide Netflix with greater bandwidth, or did Comcast squeeze Netflix until they decided to pay up? The answer to that goes straight to the heart of the net neutrality issue.