Verizon Wireless doesn’t have a great sense of timing. Shortly after tech companies, digital rights organizations, and individuals banded together in support of net neutrality, the wireless network provider has reportedly capped data transfer speeds from video services like Netflix and YouTube.
The Verge reported that several Reddit users have complained about Verizon Wireless capping Netflix data transfer speeds. We were able to confirm this ourselves using Fast.com, which is Netflix’s download speed tester. When we were connected to Verizon Wireless our download speeds peaked at 12Mbps; over Wi-Fi they hit 46Mbps. Testing via Speedtest.net, however, resulted in almost identical download speeds over cellular and Wi-Fi.
That means Verizon Wireless is currently throttling data transfer speeds from Netflix to about one-fourth of their potential, at least on our connection. (We suspect the company is shooting for 10Mbps and that it’s just a coincidence that our home Wi-Fi is roughly four times faster.) Others have said that Verizon Wireless is also throttling download speeds from YouTube, too, so it seems the company is targeting popular video services.
It makes sense for wireless network providers to want to cap streaming video download speeds. Watching something on Netflix or YouTube puts much more of a strain on their networks than, say, scrolling through Twitter. But this throttling violates the tenets of net neutrality, which insists that a byte is a byte and that data shouldn’t flow slower or faster based on its source. Limiting Netflix and YouTube is the exact opposite of that position.
Like we said at the top, this wasn’t a great time for Verizon Wireless to limit Netflix and YouTube. Earlier this month, more than 100,000 “websites, internet users, and organizations” protested the FCC’s plans to roll back Obama administration net neutrality protections. Supporters included Twitter, Amazon, and the Electronic Frontier Foundation, among many others. (And, yes, Netflix was one of the companies backing this protest.)
We’ve reached out to Verizon Wireless to learn more about the extent of the download speed limits and why they were put in place. The company hasn’t responded to our request for comment. Netflix told The Verge that it isn’t responsible for the download limits, which means it’s taking place on Verizon Wireless’ end. We’ll update this post if the company gets back to us. In the meantime, it seems Netflix and YouTube will be just a bit slower.