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Level 3 blames Verizon for Netflix stream congestion, offers to help

updated 10:44 am EDT, Fri July 18, 2014

Verizon congestion fix claimed to be cheap, simple, completed in five minutes

The ongoing feud between Netflix and Verizon has stepped up, with a transit provider weighing in over Verizon's connection congestion claims. Level 3 claims the high utilization of the connection between Verizon and itself is Verizon's fault, as the Internet service provider is actively refusing to upgrade its connections at the point of the apparent congestion.

Verizon blamed Netflix's choice of transit provider when streaming videos to Verizon customers, claiming the streaming service should have used more providers in order to spread the overall load. In a chart, Verizon claims that its network had 56-percent peak utilization between its Los Angeles Border Router, with the utilization hitting a maximum of 65 percent at one part of the connection. The sticking point happens to be Verizon's border router connection with transit providers, with Verizon claiming only 44 percent peak utilization for other providers, but 100 percent for those used by Netflix.

Level 3's response claims its network has a similar level of overall utilization to Verizon's, but at the border routers between the two companies, Verizon is apparently at fault. While both border routers have some 10Gbps Ethernet ports free, Verizon is refusing to make more connections between its router and Level 3's, and so constricts the connection.

In the blog post, Level 3 Vice President of Content and Media Mark Taylor claims the congestion issue could be fixed "in about five minutes simply by connecting up more 10Gbps ports on these routers." After accusing Verizon of not doing so for months despite requests, Taylor makes a couple of offers to make the connection happen.

"Maybe they can't afford a new port card because they've run out - even though these cards are very cheap, just a few thousand dollars for each 10Gbps card which could support 5,000 streams or more," writes Taylor, continuing "If that's the case we'll buy one for them. Maybe they can afford the small piece of cable between our two ports. If that's the case, we'll provide it. Heck, we'll even install it."

Taylor goes on to reiterate that both networks have "ample capacity" with minimal congestion occurring, except at network interconnect locations, the cost of solving the issue is "absolutely trivial," and that while it takes two parties to remove congestion at interconnect points, "Level 3 is not the party refusing to add that capacity."

At one point, Taylor stops to wonder about why Verizon is refusing to co-operate. Pointing out the congestion occurs "between Verizon and network providers chosen by Netflix," and that transit providers not used by Netflix don't have the same issues, Taylor asks "Could it be that Verizon wants to extract a pound of flesh from its competitors, using the monopoly it has over the only connection to its end-users to raise its competitors' costs?"

Level 3 has previously called out six Internet providers for failing to work with the company to improve their connections, with Taylor at the time claiming the companies are "deliberately harming the service they deliver to their paying customers."

The musing over why this has occurred highlights an issue that has apparently already been solved. In April, Verizon and Netflix signed a peering deal which would help Netflix improve its connections with providers, shortly after Netflix made a similar arrangement with Comcast. The peering deals are being examined by the FCC, a task it is undertaking as part of the overall net neutrality debate between law makers, Internet providers, and Internet services.

by MacNN Staff



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