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Netflix to name and shame ISPs that throttle movie streaming

Netflix is ready to expose ISPs that throttle its movie streaming service in a bid to stop them giving their own services an unfair advantage.

The transparency campaign is designed to show users the actual bandwidth they are getting from their ISP, which began with the monthly Netflix ISP Speed Index league tables for every country where it’s active.

The latest move follows a small scale test in the USA, where viewers see an alert if Netflix detects that problems with poor performance are down to a lack of capacity into their broadband provider’s network.

“Some broadband providers argue that our actions, and not theirs, are causing a degraded Netflix experience,” said Joris Evers, head of Communications for Europe at Netflix. “Netflix does not purposely select congested routes.”

Evers added that its pays some of the world’s largest transit networks to deliver Netflix video right to the front door of an ISP.

The bottlenecks occur where Netflix connects to the ISPs network and there isn’t enough capacity to accommodate the traffic susbcribers have requested, although they’re paying their ISP to deliver it.

Evers added: “ISPs are erecting toll booths, providing sufficient capacity for services requested by their subscribers to flow through only when those services pay the toll. “

He accused ISPs of ‘double-dipping’ by getting money from both customers and content providers to pay for access to each other.

“We believe these ISP tolls are wrong because they raise costs, stifle innovation and harm consumers. ISPs should provide sufficient capacity into their network to provide consumers the broadband experience for which they pay,” he said.

It’s the latest round in the war over Net Neutrality, where Netflix is forced to pay Verizon and Comcast extra fees on top of their broadband subscribers’ payments in order to guarantee its bandwidth isn’t restricted.

The conflict has yet to reach European shores, although in the UK providers like BT, Sky and TalkTalk all have their own broadband-delivered entertainment services which compete with the likes of Netflix, Amazon Instant Video and Wuaki.

Hopefully, we’re better protected on this side of the Atlantic, because throttling alternative providers could trigger strict European laws against anti-competition behaviour.

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