After agreeing to a deal with Verizon this past April that involved paying for high-speed internet, Netflix released a new tool that tells viewers when their ISPs are falling short of expectations. If a broadband provider’s bandwidth can’t keep up with “Orange Is the New Black,” the viewing Netflix customer will know exactly what network is responsible for the delay.
Though Netflix’s “ISP speed index” had been “using the data associated with the streaming experience to compare ISPs and give [customers] monthly insight into which ISPs deliver the best Netflix experience” (accord to their website), an image tweeted on Tuesday by Vox Media’s Yuri Victor illustrated a new element to the index. Now naming ISPs on the site itself, Netflix displayed the message, “The Verizon network is crowded right now,” beneath the usual, red loading bar you see while awaiting your streaming content.
A Netflix representative affirmed the verity of Victor’s tweet. Jonathan Friedland, the company’s chief communications officer, tweeted back, “We’re always testing new ways to keep members informed.”
Netflix has publicly come out in the past with its distaste for deals like the one’s its made with Verizon in April and Comcast back in February. As the video streaming giant believes that paying these ISPs violates the concept of “net neutrality,” its new move in naming which broadband providers aren’t performing up to speed could be seen as a passive aggressive (or just plain aggressive) tactic. Of course, Verizon would think so, as their spokesman Alberto Canal called Netflix’s move “a PR stunt.”
On the other hand, Netflix maintains that its speed index only serves to promote higher performance amongst ISPs. The index currently names Cablevision/Optimum as the highest speed provider, with Cox coming in at a close second. Comcast makes third on the list while Verizon Fios lingers at number eight, in the middle of ISPs Netflix ranks in the US.