Verizon Throttling Netflix Traffic as Part of Temporary Video Optimization Test

Some Verizon Wireless users this week began noticing throttled streaming speeds when watching content from streaming services like Netflix and YouTube, and Verizon today confirmed to Ars Technica that it has indeed been throttling speeds as "part of a temporary test" of a "new video optimization system."

"We've been doing network testing over the past few days to optimize the performance of video applications on our network," a Verizon spokesperson told Ars. "The testing should be completed shortly. The customer video experience was not affected."

Reports of throttled speeds first surfaced on reddit earlier this week, after Verizon users noticed that Netflix's speed test site was returning streaming speeds limited to approximately 10Mb/s, while other speed test tools, like Ookla Speedtest, were returning normal results. Similar throttled speeds were also seen when using YouTube and the actual Netflix service.

verizonlogo
It wasn't clear what was going on until this morning, when Verizon told Ars Technica that it was conducting a temporary test of a new optimization system. According to Verizon, the optimization test did not impact actual quality of video, which is true in most cases, but some YouTube users noticed downgraded quality resolved through using a VPN. Other video services, including Verizon's own Go90 video service, are also impacted.

With Netflix, the 10Mb/s limit doesn't impact Netflix video quality when watching on a mobile device, but it has the potential to be an issue when tethering and watching on a device that can stream Netflix's Ultra HD 25Mb/s video. According to Verizon, the video optimization limits are used regardless of whether a user is tethering.

But will that actually harm your Netflix video? Probably not, as long as you're watching on your mobile device and not tethering. Netflix says its Ultra HD quality video can require 25Mbps but that's apparently just for non-mobile devices. For mobile devices, Netflix offers a few quality settings including "Unlimited," which it says "may use 1GB per 20 minutes or more depending on your device and network speeds."

When Verizon introduced its unlimited streaming data plan in February of 2017, the company said it would not throttle video or manipulate data, and Verizon was noncommittal when asked by Ars Technica if the alleged "temporary test" marked a change in policy. "We deliver whatever the content provider gives us," the company said. "We're always looking for ways to optimize our network without impacting our customers' experience."

As The Verge points out, what customers experienced appeared to be more of a hard cap than network optimization, raising some questions about Net Neutrality.

Verizon says its testing should be completed shortly, after which speeds will presumably go back to normal.

Tag: Verizon

Top Rated Comments

stygs Avatar
44 months ago
Great! I'm gonna throttle my payment as part of an "expense optimization test".

Brilliant idea VZ!
Score: 109 Votes (Like | Disagree)
max2 Avatar
44 months ago

I don't see the big deal.

Oh its a huge deal.

It is my connection I pay for.
Score: 24 Votes (Like | Disagree)
adamjackson Avatar
44 months ago


It is my connection I pay for.

ISPs do not see it this way. Verizon will say:


* I own the towers
* I own the fiber
* I Own the data center
* I own the customer support and brick & mortar stores


You pay an agreed upon monthly fee to lease my service. I can cancel the contract at anytime without cause and I can keep you from accessing specific parts of the web because you are a guest on my network.

FCC would say "You're just a utility, you aren't allowed to do that" but then Verizon said "oh okay here's billions of dollars and one of our top lawyers now runs the FCC and we're gonna go back to doing things how we please"

ISPs don't want to be classified like Power companies are. But it's akin to your power company saying "You can only run Kenmore appliances from now on" Imagine the outrage of our public on both sides of the aisle about this sort of announcement from power companies but for some reason, ISPs are allowed to do that.

I don't see any reason for Net Neutrality to be up for debate except for when you trace the lobby & donation dollars back to ISPs and see that this is why it's even up for debate. ISPs rate-limiting or blocking specific websites is just like a power company not allowing LG Fridges in the homes of their customers or saying "You've used enough power today" by 9PM and only half of your house now has power (i.e. throttling).
Score: 21 Votes (Like | Disagree)
X--X Avatar
44 months ago
But Verizon will sell you their own HD-TV content for just 80 bucks a month.

I'm sure it has nothing to do with Netflix being a direct competitor ;-)
Score: 14 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Zarniwoop Avatar
44 months ago
For just $9,99/month you can add unlimited use of Netflix in VZ network. Otherwise it is SD video for you no matter how much you pay for Netflix.

I suppose this is part of the Make Amurica great again -scheme?
Score: 14 Votes (Like | Disagree)
bugeats Avatar
44 months ago

I don't see the big deal.

The very fact that the ISP is doing anything to distinguish traffic as anything other than raw packets is problematic.

They are free to optimize the flow of network traffic, but the minute they start cracking open the content stream and saying "this is video" or even "this is video from one of our competitors" they cease to be neutral. How many more steps until "this is video that we've throttled to save our infrastructure costs and injected our own advertisements into"?

I suspect that what we are seeing is evidence for software/systems development in anticipation for an anti net neutrality victory. If there was any question as to the net-neutrality agenda of big ISPs, this should be red flag.
Score: 12 Votes (Like | Disagree)

Top Stories

m1 chip macbook air pro

Kuo: Redesigned MacBooks With Apple Silicon to Launch in Second Half of 2021

Tuesday November 24, 2020 7:53 pm PST by
Apple plans to release additional MacBook models with Apple Silicon in the second half of 2021, according to analyst Ming-Chi Kuo, as part of the company's two-year transition away from Intel processors across its Mac lineup. In a research note today, obtained by MacRumors, Kuo said that these MacBook models will feature a new design. Kuo did not specify which models these will be, but he...
Apple Watc black friday 20 sale feature

Apple Black Friday 2020: Best Apple Watch Deals [Updated]

Wednesday November 25, 2020 4:01 pm PST by
Black Friday sales have begun on a variety of products, including the Apple Watch. There are quite a few deals across the Apple Watch lineup this year, including one of the lowest price we've ever seen the Apple Watch Series 3. Note: MacRumors is an affiliate partner with some of these vendors. When you click a link and make a purchase, we may receive a small payment, which helps us keep the...
AirPods Pro black friday 20 sale feature 2

Black Friday 2020: AirPods Pro Reach Lowest Price Ever [Updated]

Wednesday November 25, 2020 3:22 pm PST by
Black Friday has kicked off this week, and one of the first major sales for the AirPods Pro is available right now on Walmart. You can find this deal below, along with a few other solid discounts on the regular AirPods. Note: MacRumors is an affiliate partner with some of these vendors. When you click a link and make a purchase, we may receive a small payment, which helps us keep the site...
13 16 inch macbook pro air trio

Reliable Leaker Suggests Redesigned MacBooks in 2021 Will Include Both Apple Silicon and Intel Models

Wednesday November 25, 2020 9:15 am PST by
Reliable leaker known as "L0vetodream" has today suggested on Twitter that redesigned MacBooks coming in the second half of 2021 will include models with both Apple Silicon chips and Intel processors. The brief Tweet came in response to a MacRumors article from earlier today, which outlined a report from Ming-Chi Kuo claiming that Apple plans to release redesigned MacBook models with Apple ...
mac mini macbook pro macbook air

Apple M1 Hands-On Comparison: MacBook Air vs. MacBook Pro vs. Mac Mini

Monday November 23, 2020 3:40 pm PST by
Apple's M1 Macs are out in the wild now, but ahead of the holidays, you might still be trying to figure out which one to pick up, either for yourself or as a gift for someone else. We've got all three of the new Macs available, so we thought we'd give MacRumors readers a hands-on overview of each machine in our latest YouTube video. Subscribe to the MacRumors YouTube channel for more videos. ...
app store christmas icon

Apple Shutting Down App Store Connect From December 23 to December 27

Monday November 23, 2020 10:14 am PST by
Apple shuts down App Store Connect for a week around the holidays each year in an effort to give App Store staff time off from work. This year, App Store Connect will be unavailable from December 23 to December 27. With App Store Connect unavailable, Apple will not accept new apps or app updates, so all pricing changes and new app submissions need to be locked in before those dates for...
iPads black friday 20 sale feature

Apple Black Friday 2020: Best iPad Deals

Tuesday November 24, 2020 8:51 am PST by
Although we're still a few days away from the official launch of Black Friday, we've known for a few weeks that many retailers would be kicking off discounts ahead of November 27. Because of this trend, today we're tracking discounts across Apple's lineup of iPads, including the 10.2-inch iPad and 2020 iPad Pro. More sales are likely to appear as the week progresses, and when they do we'll update ...
Target November Deals 1

Black Friday Spotlight: Target Begins Week-Long Sale With Deals on iPhone 12, Powerbeats Pro, and More

Monday November 23, 2020 8:07 am PST by
We've been tracking early Black Friday deals in our dedicated Black Friday Roundup, and in an effort to prepare our readers for the big shopping event we're highlighting sales store-by-store in the lead-up to November 27. Note: MacRumors is an affiliate partner with Target. When you click a link and make a purchase, we may receive a small payment, which helps us keep the site running....
new mac mini logicpro screen

M1 Macs Able to Run Up to Six External Displays Using DisplayLink

Tuesday November 24, 2020 6:53 am PST by
It is possible to run up to six external displays from the M1 Mac mini, and five external displays from the M1 MacBook Air and MacBook Pro, with the aid of DisplayPort adapters, according to YouTuber Ruslan Tulupov. This far exceeds Apple's specified limits on external displays with the M1 Macs. Apple's host of new M1 Macs are not capable of supporting as many external displays as their...
2020 apple shopping event

Apple Offering Up to $150 Gift Card With Select Products on Black Friday Through Cyber Monday

Monday November 23, 2020 2:53 am PST by
Apple has announced its annual four-day shopping event, offering customers up to a $150 Apple Store gift card with the purchase of select products between Black Friday and Cyber Monday in the United States. The gift card values in the United States are as follows: $150 for 16-inch MacBook Pro $150 for 21.5-inch iMac $50 for 13-inch MacBook Pro $50 for MacBook Air $50 for iPhone SE,...