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Does Your ISP Cap Data, Throttle Netflix?

20 February 2014 709 views No Comment

Given the mechanics and politics of that internet net neutrality, isn't happening. So, here's a quick look which ISPs cap data and/or throttle Netflix

What is net neutrality? It is a simple rule that states that all internet traffic should be treated equally. Given the mechanics and politics of that internet that, quite obviously, isn’t happening. Here is a quick and dirty look which US ISPs cap data and/or throttle Netflix.

Call it the double douchebag index (DDI), a listing of broadband ISPs that both cap data and throttle Netflix. And, here, the words “throttle Netflix” is a stand in for the throttling of any streaming media service, like Hulu Plus and Amazon Prime Instant.

us-broadband-data-caps
Want to know if your ISP is capping data? (GigaOM)

Yes, data caps are common, but enforcement is spotty as a practical matter.

Throttle Netflix: With Both Hands?

What does it mean to throttle Netflix? While Comcast and Verizon have been shown to throttle Netflix — what they’re doing seems to be a conscious effort.

Is your ISP throttling Netflix streaming speeds? (ITWorld)

Other broadband ISPs, like Time Warner, seem to be taking a different path, one that likewise results in poor Netflix performance — not adding capacity to meet peak hour demand, not peering efficiently and/or prioritizing other traffic.

That is, rather than consciously trying to throttle Netflix, some carriers consciously choose not to make acceptable/better.

Where Matters

How does that look out in the real world? Netflix grades US and Canadians broadband ISPs — Comcast and Verizon (DSL) score near the bottom and Time Warner, AT&T U-Verse and Verizon FiOS earn middling ratings.

netflix-grades-broadband-isps
Netflix Grades Broadband ISPs (Netflix)

It also matters greatly where you live. For example, where I live in Erie, Pennsylvania — I suspect neighborhood matters, too — while Time Warner might indeed be guilty of lacking peak capacity, efficient peering relationships and/or prioritizing other traffic, as a practical matter, streamed video usually is very smooth.

Conclusions? Shop around and talk to your neighbors. Also, even if your best choice broadband ISP is a known Netflix throttler, it is often possible to get around that by using a VPN (virtual private network).

If you are living with a data cap, then you need to find a new broadband ISP, which could involve moving…

What’s your take?

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