Verizon calls Netflix customer ISP messages 'misleading PR stunt'

One day after onscreen messages started appearing on Netflix (NASDAQ: NFLX) users' display screens blaming their current buffering delays on their ISP, Verizon (NYSE: VZ)--in what is becoming an all-to-familiar refrain--struck back on its company blog.

In a post titled "Shifting Blame," David Young, VP of federal regulatory affairs for Verizon, labeled Netflix's ISP messaging "a PR stunt," noting that any Netflix connection problems experienced by Verizon Internet service customers are "most likely congestion on the connection that Netflix has chosen to use to reach Verizon's network."

Netflix and Verizon signed an interconnection deal in late April, but of course, the subscription video on demand company has a messaging agenda that is much bigger than the individual peering deals it makes with ISPs. In fact, Netflix wants the Federal Communications Commission to legislate things so that it doesn't have to make peering deals at all to get the streaming performance it wants over the major networks.

It's still unclear as to whether Netflix was specifically targeting Verizon with its error message. But Verizon became the focal point when Vox Media blogger Yuri Victor virally tweeted an image of his buffering message, which said "The Verizon Network is crowded right now--adjusting video for smoother playback."

Of course, in this messaging war, it's also unclear if there were actually Netflix performance problems on Verizon's network Monday. And given the amount of publicly available data, it's probably also impossible to properly assess blame for any real issues.

Nonetheless, Thursday was Verizon's turn at the pulpit, advising blog readers to read Streaming Media's Dan Rayburn and CNET's Maggie Reardon to find out "what is really going on."

And without a hint of intentional irony, Young added, "It is sad that Netflix is willing to deliberately mislead its customers so they can be used as pawns in business negotiations and regulatory proceedings."

For more:
- read this Verizon blog post
- read this DSL Reports story

Related links:
Netflix deals with Verizon, Comcast aren't helping net neutrality, but does that matter?
How much are Netflix, Amazon and Hulu spending on original content?

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