Is Netflix Traffic Being Throttled?

Try to get the real picture behind the low video quality experienced by Netflix users and what is happening behind the scenes.

Netflix users around the world have experienced a steady decline in the quality and speed of video quality. The video is heavily pixilated and constantly buffering. What’s going on and why Netflix is slowing down and going low on quality? Read on to learn more.

A high-quality video feed is possible with just 1 or 2 megabits per second. And, almost every Netflix subscriber carries a connection that is competent of 10Mbps or more. This leaves us even more confused and puzzled. Actually, Netflix is a victim of its own success and has outgrown its allotted bandwidth. What is happening is that those countless network operators and ISPs are choking Netflix, before we look into the matter it is essential to understand Peering.

What is Peering?
The internet is a series of tubes that are connected with the help of routers and for a network connecting of homes and businesses all over the world. When you stream a video on Netflix or do anything on the internet, the data packets reaching you have to move across dozens of different networks that may belong to different companies and those companies are naturally looking for payment. You also need to understand that there are two kinds of traffic on web, upstream and downstream. Google, Netflix, YouTube, etc. create upstream traffic. The gatekeepers in the middle demand payment from the upstream and downstream users and comprise of core network operators and the telecommunications companies that support the network of the web.

The internet is based on peering agreements that make sure that everyone is fairly paid for the traffic that moves across their network. Peering is usually free if the web traffic is fairly symmetrical. The problem arises when asymmetrical connections arise and peering is not able to cope very well.

What Is Happening?
Netflix is still growing at a very fast pace and accounts for 30% of the bandwidth consumption in US. It seems to have outgrown its peering agreements with ISPs in US and this is why its traffic is getting throttled. Verizon’s FiOS service is a good example, where prime-time speeds of Netflix dropped by a huge 14%. Verizon can reduce the congestion by going in for a larger peering arrangement with Netflix, but would want money from Netflix. Netflix can place its own streaming video servers but ISPs to peer want these servers for free. But, the ISPs like Time Warner Cable, Verizon, AT&T, Comcast, etc. want money.

Netflix’s video quality will continue to decrease unless an agreement is reached. The service continues to gain more users, but at the rate its services are expanding and the quality is declining, Netflix will have to give in to the demands of ISPs and sooner rather than later. Its subscribers are not bothered about what happens behind the scenes and would not want to pay for a crappy service. If ISPs turn to bullying, Netflix argues that it will be the start of the end of for internet freedom. The ISPs, on the other hand claim that they are making reasonable demands and the negotiations are just normal. It seems Netflix will have to shell out some money if it wants to maintain the high quality of its services.