Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Netflix vs. Verizon: My Thoughts on the Latest

A friend of mine asked for my thoughts on this article: Netflix refuses to comply with Verizon’s “cease and desist” demands.

I figured others might be interested too, so here goes. You can read the article, but here’s a brief recap. Netflix signed an agreement with Verizon (similar to the deal with Comcast) in which they’ll pay for a better internet signal for their customers. So far, the Verizon signal hasn’t gotten better yet, so Netflix is putting up a message specifically naming Verizon as having a crowded signal. Verizon doesn’t like this (obviously) and issued a cease-and-desist, as well as requesting a list of customers that received this message with a justification that this was the issue. Netflix answered back saying it’s just a test that ending soon, but that they plan to continue letting their customers know when the signal is crowded. They offer to work with Verizon on optimizing their signal. And, they did not offer a list of customers. Ok, caught up? Good.

The first thing that jumped out at me was that Netflix signed a deal to pay for a better signal and they’re not yet getting it. Verizon said it should improve by the end of 2014. My obvious follow-up question to that is “Is Netflix paying them yet?”. If so, then Netflix has every right to expect a better signal and to exploit it if they’re not getting it. If the issue is due to Verizon, then there’s nothing wrong with Netflix educating their customers. In fact, I love the fact that they are pointing it out.
Money talks, but maybe not if they're getting money, but not improving their signal.
The next major thing that greatly concerned me was Verizon asking for a list of Netflix customers that received the message. That’s a huge privacy issue. Verizon has absolutely no right to even ask for that list and it shocks me that they would even make that request. They simply need to know better. I’m not a Verizon customer, but if I was, it’s no business of theirs if I’m also a Netflix customer.

Overall, this all goes back to the net neutrality issue and Netflix is right at the center of it. I’m heavily in favor of net neutrality, as I think most of us are. I think they made a mistake when they caved to Comcast and agreed to pay them. That opened them up to having to pay all the providers. I get that they’re trying to help out their customers, but it weakens their argument. Since, they’ve made heavy arguments for net neutrality. I think it’s just a stronger argument when they can show the effects of on their customers, not on their revenue.

Well, those are my thoughts. I’m curious what everyone else thinks. Let me know. Thanks for reading and please sure this with your friends!

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