Verizon denies throttling Amazon's cloud, Netflix services

In a post-net neutrality world, a blogger accuses Verizon of throttling its services

Verizon is denying a charge leveled by a security expert – and seemingly acknowledged by its own customer service department – that it is "limiting bandwidth" to Amazon Web Services, and by extension Netflix, in response to a recent court decision.    

Just a few weeks ago a Washington D.C. appellate court struck down the Federal Communication Commission’s net neutrality rules. The judge ruled that the FCC cannot regulate how ISPs like Verizon deliver services, which could open the door to ISPs providing different connect speeds to different services. Verizon says it has not changed its connection policies since the net neutrality rules were struck down.

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David Raphael, director of engineering for cloud security provider iScan, outlines in a blog post how he began noticing that his Internet connection at home was slow. It got to a point where it began impacting his streaming service from Netflix, he says. So he did a couple of tests. From his home he got a bandwidth rate of 40kbps when accessing Amazon Web Services’ Simple Storage Service (S3). When he tested it from his work, he got 5,000kbps. Both his home and work use Verizon’s FiOS Internet Service.

verizon

Credit: courtesy of David Raphael

He contacted a Verizon customer support representative to inquire about the issue. After what he says was about a half hour, he asked the representative point-blank if Verizon is now limiting bandwidth to cloud providers such as AWS. “Yes, it is limited bandwidth to cloud providers,” the online chat representative said. Raphael responded, “And this is why my Netflix quality is so bad right now?”

Verizon representative’s response: “Yes, exactly."

Raphael says he’s worried the net neutrality wars are upon us. “In my personal opinion, this is Verizon waging war against Netflix. Unfortunately, a lot of infrastructure is hosted on AWS. That means a lot of services are going to be impacted by this.”

In response to a request for an explanation, executive director of communications for Verzion Edward McFadden replied:

“We treat all traffic equally, and that has not changed. Many factors can affect the speed a customer’s experiences for a specific site, including, that site’s servers, the way the traffic is routed over the Internet, and other considerations. We are looking into this specific matter, but the company representative was mistaken. We’re going to redouble our representative education efforts on this topic.”

Raphael’s blog post is already garnering considerable attention on social media sites. On Twitter some users are wondering if Raphael’s account is one of the first results of the net neutrality ruling. On HackerNews, a tech forum, users point out that the statement is from a Verizon customer service representative and should be taken in that context.

Following the net neutrality ruling, Verizon stated that it had no plans to make any changes to its Internet service. “Today’s decision will not change consumers’ ability to access and use the Internet as they do now,” company officials wrote in a statement posted on its website. “The court’s decision will allow more room for innovation, and consumers will have more choices to determine for themselves how they access and experience the Internet.”

Neither Amazon nor Netflix immediately responded to a request for comment.

Senior Writer Brandon Butler covers cloud computing for Network World and NetworkWorld.com. He can be reached at BButler@nww.com and found on Twitter at @BButlerNWW. Read his Cloud Chronicles here.  

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