Netflix has been taking potshots at ISPs and Verizon isn't taking them lying down. On Tuesday, Twitter users started posting screenshots of their Netflix apps calling out Verizon by name for choking data, notably this one from Vox Media designer Yuri Victor:
Oh snap, netflix. pic.twitter.com/wMfavoHOyj— Yuri Victor ♥ (@yurivictor) June 4, 2014
Verizon was not amused. The company drafted a cease-and-desist letter and made it available to media; among other assertions, Verizon says that it isn't to blame for slow traffic. "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," wrote general counsel Randal Milch. "The cost-quality trade-off is one Netflix has chosen."
Netflix operates by buying traffic from content distribution networks that handle every kind of internet traffic. But Verizon (and other networks) have refused to upgrade links for the CDNs that carry Netflix's video streams, and Netflix has made deals with at least one provider—Cablevision—for direct network access.
But Netflix CEO Reed Hastings has been agitating for free network access, calling the charges for bandwidth a poor answer to consumers who overwhelmingly watch the company's content (Netflix accounts for fully 1/3 of internet traffic during peak streaming hours, a recent study found).
Verizon has demanded that Netflix cease pointing the finger at its network, calling the practice "deceptive."