Reports Say Netflix Slowing Down on Comcast

Questions raised about Philly-based cable giant's service.

Photo | AP, Matt Rourke

Photo | AP, Matt Rourke

What started out as a trickle has grown to a torrent: Reports from around the country suggest that Comcast customers are having more trouble with Netflix service, increasingly getting hiccups,  stops and a generally slowed-down experience.

The Consumerist reports:

Comcast’s average speeds for Netflix users have dropped dramatically in just a handful of months. From January through September of 2013, Comcast bounced around between 2 Mbps and about 2.13 Mbps. But starting in October, their performance fell and by January of this year, their average was closer to 1.5 Mbps. FiOS saw a similar, though not quite as precipitous, drop, from a high around 2.2 Mbps to their current low of about 1.8.

Back when Netflix first started publishing their ISP speed rankings in 2012, FiOS and Comcast were in positions #2 and #3, right behind Google Fiber. They currently rank #7 and #14, respectively.

This data, of course, comes from Netflix and specifically measures Netflix’s connections with broadband providers. There is now no active rule requiring ISPs to treat different internet traffic the same way. So major networks might actually be getting slower… or they might be throttling some of the traffic moving through them.

But Netflix doesn’t seem to think that’s happening:

That update comes to us via a note from J.P. Morgan analyst Doug Anmuth, who says he has been talking to Netflix CEO Reed Hastings and CFO David Wells, and they told him they don’t think cable and telco companies are hampering the company’s video streams.

Anmuth doesn’t have much to report on the topic, so here are his comments in their entirety: “Netflix does not seem overly concerned regarding Net Neutrality, and continues to believe that violations would be escalated quickly. Netflix also indicated that it has no evidence or belief that its service is being throttled.”

If evidence were found that Comcast is throttling Netflix that could be a problem for the carrier: The terms of its merger with NBC-Universal require it to observe net neutrality rules at least until January 18. And Comcast’s David Cohen said last month he doesn’texpect to deviate from that model: “Comcast’s customers want an open and vibrant Internet, and we are absolutely committed to deliver that experience.”