Pixel Envy

Written by Nick Heer.

Verizon Wireless Is Testing Capping Streaming Video at 10 Mbps

Will Johnson — Verizon’s SVP of Federal Regulatory & Legal Affairs — on July 12, the net neutrality “Day of Action”:

But we’re NOT backing off our consistent support for policies that ensure that consumers will always be able to go where they want, and do what they want, online or that allow any innovator to dream up the next big thing.

Jon Brodkin, Ars Technica, today:

Verizon Wireless customers this week noticed that Netflix’s speed test tool appears to be capped at 10Mbps, raising fears that the carrier is throttling video streaming on its mobile network.

When contacted by Ars this morning, Verizon acknowledged using a new video optimization system but said it is part of a temporary test and that it did not affect the actual quality of video. The video optimization appears to apply both to unlimited and limited mobile plans.

But some YouTube users are reporting degraded video, saying that using a VPN service can bypass the Verizon throttling. The Federal Communications Commission generally allows mobile carriers to limit video quality as long as the limitations are imposed equally across different video services despite net neutrality rules that outlaw throttling. The net neutrality rules have exceptions for network management.

In documentation on their website, Verizon says that they’re throttling indiscriminately:

The optimization techniques are applied to all content files coming from the Internet Port 80 that use the most common compression formats. The form and extent of optimization depends on the compression format of the content file, but does not depend on the content of the file, the originating web site, or the user’s device. No distinction in the application of these techniques is made based on the source website or originator of the content. The system optimizes files based strictly on the type of file and the relevant file formats (recognizing that some file types are not modified). Accordingly, all content, including Verizon Wireless branded content, of the same type will be subject to the same process.

I get what they‘re doing here, but it’s still discriminating against streaming video as a category. And if net neutrality laws were not currently in place for broadband, do you really think that Verizon would hesitate to apply the same throttling across the board, except for their own media? Of course not.