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Netflix streaming speeds plummet on FiOS despite Verizon denial

Image used with permission by copyright holder

According to the latest Netflix ISP speed index for the United States, the average streaming speed on Verizon FiOS has dropped to its lowest point in the last 15 months. Topping out at an average speed of 2.22 Mbps just three months ago, average streaming speed for Netflix subscribers during January 2014 has plummeted by nearly 20 percent down to an average of 1.82 Mbps. That speed just barely tops the national average of 1.78 Mbps and it’s the first time that FiOS users have dropped below an average of 2 Mbps. In addition, Verizon DSL speeds have also been dropping, 1.42 Mbps during September 2013 down to 0.97 Mbps during January 2014.

Of course, this data was released just a few days after a Texas software engineer published a blog post about Verizon supposedly throttling his connection to Amazon Web Services, the service that powers Netflix Instant. Following that post, Verizon representatives released a statement denying the claim and alluding to the fact that it could have been an issue with Netflix. However, the blogger, David Raphael, indicated that he immediately tried out Netflix on an ISP other than FiOS and it worked perfectly without any quality degradation. 

verizon-fios-netflix streaming speed
Image used with permission by copyright holder

It’s likely that Netflix subscribers could seek out service alternatives to Verizon FiOS if the average streaming speed continues to degrade over time. However, Verizon isn’t alone on the charts. Comcast speeds have also taken a nose dive over the last 4 months dropping from over 2 Mbps down to around 1.5 Mbps. Conversely, the average streaming speeds for Google Fiber users have been on a tear as of late hitting a national best of 3.78 Mbps. Other quality ISPs for Netflix include COX, Cablevision/Optimum and Suddenlink. Services like Time Warner and Charter haven’t really moved in either direction significantly. 

If these average speeds seem somewhat slow, it’s likely because the majority of broadband subscribers are likely on less expensive plans. However, these speeds definitely show off a trend in how service providers are handling the stress of streaming video. According to Netflix’s Internet Connection Speed Recommendations page, 3 megabits per second is recommended for DVD quality, 5 megabits for HD quality, 7 megabits for super HD (1080p) quality and 12 megabits for 3D quality. In addition, future 4K streams will require a minimum of 15 megabits per second. 

fios van
Image used with permission by copyright holder

It’s also possible that Netflix streaming speeds are suffering on services like Verizon and Comcast because neither company has joined Netflix’s Open Connect program. This program places servers with popular content in the vicinity of large batches of ISP subscribers, thus reducing queue times when pulling up a new video. According to Netflix, this is particularly effective during peak times when watching streaming video is most popular since the video is cached.

Another potential cause for the decreased speeds is a greater stress on Netflix’s network due to the availability of Super HD and 3D content. Without Open Connect, Verizon customers have to wait longer times to pull up that high definition content. In any case, Verizon FiOS customers should be wary of any particular quality issues when streaming Netflix Instant in the coming months. 

Mike Flacy
By day, I'm the content and social media manager for High-Def Digest, Steve's Digicams and The CheckOut on Ben's Bargains…
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