Rayburn: Netflix's ISP complaints may just be hot air

Netflix's (NASDAQ: NFLX) continuing assertions that ISPs such as Verizon (NYSE: VZ) and Comcast (NASDAQ: CMCSA) are to blame for poor streaming performance aren't passing the smell test for at least one analyst.

Streaming Media VP Dan Rayburn presented data that questions some of Netflix's claims that ISPs are deliberately congesting the peering points at the edges of their network. Using data provided by an unnamed major U.S. broadband provider, Rayburn analyzed the SVOD provider's download speeds and found that, in some cases, Netflix may be causing its own problems.

In the past, Netflix paid to have its traffic delivered through CDN providers such as Akamai, Level 3 and Limelight, Rayburn explained. But its speeds began to suffer after it took control of its own network routing through its CDN Open Connect.

Further, Netflix has worked out a number of settlement-free peering deals with smaller ISPs but was not able to do so with larger ISPs, such as Comcast and Verizon.

"For the providers Netflix did not qualify for peering, Netflix moved their traffic onto very specific Internet paths that were not capable of handling their massive load and caused the congestion that impacted customers," Rayburn wrote.

Rayburn also charges that Netflix "specifically chose transit paths to those ISPs who refused to give it free peering that it knew (and measured) were not capable of handling an increase in load." He was told by some ISPs, unnamed in the article, that traffic levels on some paths increased 500 percent within a few months.

Further, Rayburn said, "When Netflix delivered video through similar-sized third-party CDNs, customers received a consistent HD video stream 24 hours a day, and from the CDNs I have spoken to, none of them had any problems getting Netflix's traffic to the ISPs."

If Rayburn's data holds up--a June 18 peering event in D.C. being held by MIT may provide more detailed insight, he said--it's somewhat damning evidence that the online-video-streaming provider isn't being as transparent as it claims.

For more:
- see this Streaming Media story

Related articles:
Cisco study: 79% of all IP traffic will be video by 2018
Verizon ramps up Netflix tiff with cease and desist letter
The perils of Netflix
Verizon FiOS speed drops in Netflix ISP index, despite peering deal

Update: corrected host of June 18 peering event from Netflix to MIT.