Netflix Throttling Instant Video Streaming Performance for Viewers

netflix-white-logo

What’s Going on with Netflix Streaming Performance?

I noticed about 3 weeks ago my streaming video performance from Netflix has become unbearably slow. I’m on a 7 mbps Qwest DSL line in Tucson, AZ and my previous experience with Netflix “Watch Instantly” service had generally been excellent, almost never showing the buffering screen for a movie on either my PC or Xbox 360 and playing at the highest quality.

On the Xbox 360 for the last few weeks I can get playback to start quickly but everything I’ve tried to watch will stop 10 seconds into the playback and “adjust the quality” for about 5 mins, before resuming playback in the absolutely lowest quality setting — the quality approximately looks like a 320×200 resolution image is being upscaled on my 65″ TV — it’s so muddy every scene almost looks like it’s shot with a fuzzy “Dream” filter or something.

The odd part is that if I stop the playback on the Xbox 360, go to my computer and try and play the same media, I get presented with a “Your connection is not fast enough to start playback immediately…” notice and usually a wait time of 1hr or more. The overall slow down combined with the huge discrepency between the two experiences (Netflix-enabled device and my PC) made me decide to start Googling and see if I could figure out what was going on — I smelled shenanigans…

Detecting if Netflix is Throttling Streaming Video

I immediately ran into this post from another person who has a Qwest DSL line and piss-poor performance from Netflix and their streaming service. The original poster mentions:

I have been on the phone with netflix tech support only to be told they are aware there is a problem and their engineering department in California is looking into it. The problem is some people like myself who have high speed dsl (avg 1.5 mbs) find out their download speed from netflix is about 60% slower for some reason.

This post was from February 12, a month ago; so whatever the Netflix “engineers” have been doing, isn’t working. One of the most interesting bits of information is the tip the poster gives on accessing the secret diagnostic menu on the Netflix streaming player by holding the SHIFT key and Right-clicking to bring it up.

From there you can select:

  • Status window
  • Media info MessageBox
  • Show log info

Bringing up the Status window I noticed my download performance was a far cry from my 7 mbps speed, but rather a measly 0.48 mbps, about 1/14th the speed of my line:

netflix-streaming-video-player-poor-performance

I decided to pop open the “Show log file” screen to see if I could get more information about where my video stream was coming from to help determine if it was my connection (and my fault) or Netflix’s problem.

After opening the log file, 26 lines down I found the line:

CAxPlayerCtrl::SetMediaURL: “http://netflix-699.vo.llnwd.net/s/d3/699/393441699.wmv?e=1237204120&h=b493e799e62ec39856e36a667a1eb2d0

So I did a tracert from my PC to the base llnwd.net URL to see what came up, here’s what I got:

Tracing route to netflix-699.vo.llnwd.net [68.142.79.69]
over a maximum of 30 hops:
  1     1 ms     1 ms    <1 ms  home [192.168.1.1]
  2    36 ms    34 ms    33 ms  tcsn-dsl-gw13-205.tcsn.qwest.net [SNIP]
  3    35 ms    33 ms    35 ms  tcsn-agw1.inet.qwest.net [SNIP]
  4    33 ms    35 ms    33 ms  tcs-core-01.inet.qwest.net [SNIP]
  5     *       47 ms    47 ms  lap-brdr-03.inet.qwest.net [67.14.22.74]
  6    45 ms    47 ms    45 ms  63.146.26.50
  7    49 ms    51 ms    49 ms  64.213.78.254
  8    48 ms    51 ms    48 ms  ve6.fr3.lax.llnw.net [69.28.171.205]
  9    46 ms    66 ms    45 ms  cdn-68-142-79-69.lax.llnw.net [68.142.79.69]
Trace complete.

With an average of a 50ms response time, I’m going to go ahead and say my 7 mbps Qwest DSL service is working as advertised, and there is something fishy going on with the Netflix service.

I then copy-pasted the URL from above into my browser and decided to literally try and download the WMV, surprisingly enough it started to download, at exactly the same speed I was seeing from the player:

direct-netflix-wmv-stream-download-firefox-dialog

My first thought was “maybe Netflix is throttling per-thread” like a lot of download sites do, so I popped open the Firefox “Download Them All” addon and re-started the download. This time, with 4 concurrent threads, I got 306 KB/sec, almost 6x the performance (roughly 2.5 mbps):

direct-netflix-wmv-stream-download-using-dta-4-threads

I figured I’d bump the threads up to 10 and see how far we get here, apparently Netflix isn’t running out of bandwidth, it’s just throttling me to hell and back.

After turning Download Them All up to the maximum of 10 threads and relaunching the download, I saw my speed spike over 700 KB/sec (roughly 5.6 mbps):

direct-netflix-wmv-stream-download-using-dta-10-threads

Now we have confirmed that Netflix is throttling instant streaming PC-users to a rediculous 50 or 60 KB/sec cap… I was about to make the qualification of “at peak times” but after seeing my ability to easily increase my download speed from the Netflix streaming server by a factor of 14, I have to imagine the servers have quite a bit of room to grow at the moment and could offer me better performance than this.

To further clarify, I think throttling is likely a valid strategy for Netflix to employee to stop servers from maxing out and crashing — the problem here is the 50-60 KB/sec cap that produces unusable results with a “Watch Instantly” service — you could easily drive down the street to a video store, take your time choosing, and have it back in your house before your video were done buffering with the Netflix Watch Instantly service — and view it at a higher resolution as well. This is the core of the problem, Netflix is throttling PC viewers (And likely others) so aggressively they aren’t delivering the service they advertise. And when we work around this trottle manually (with DTA) we see that the servers scale bandwidth (and potentially video streaming performance) without a problem — so what’s going on here?

OK, Netflix is Throttling Streaming, but Why?

Netflix already has a reputation for silently throttling their customers, but what would cause them to throttle performance so hard that the service is basically unusable for any customers that are either watching “too much” instantly streaming video from the Netflix service (as determined by Netflix of course) or just trying to watching movies at times of very heavy server loads?

My guess is that Netflix didn’t have the infrastructure to support the rollout of the Xbox 360 Netflix streaming dashboard update that went out a few months ago. I’d also further a guess that due to contractual obligations with Microsoft, Netflix had to guarantee a certain level of service to the Xbox 360 users above and beyond what the PC-streaming viewers got, making the Xbox 360 a prioritized device when it came to throttling instant video streaming requests from one of the Netflix servers.

netflix-branded-xbox-360

I would also further a guess that we won’t see this situation fixed for users of the Netflix “Watch Instantly” service until Q4 this year as Netflix tries to find the balance between spending themselves into bankrupcy and signing additional device deals with Sony (for the PS3), TiVo and possible some of the cable providers which will all require basic QoS conditions for those customers.

I would predict that my 2010, if Netflix signs 1 or 2 more significant partnerships, Friday and Saturday nights PC-based users of the streaming video service will barely be able to watch something without an hour of buffering at the lowest level.

Conspiracy Theory

… for those that like taking thoughts to the logical extreme — I could also see Netflix trying to degrade the PC-based streaming experience to drive people towards more “official” Netflix-enabled devices, like the Xbox 360, Roku box, hybrid Blu-ray media players and I’m sure 10 more devices that will hit the market this year.

You know the real shit of it all? I can absolutely see how this is probably better for Netflix’s bottom line, both in the sense that it improves relationships with exclusive contractee’s (Microsoft, Samsung, etc.) and drives consumers to look around for alternative solutions to their streaming problems which are very clearly outlined on the Watch Instantly web page in your browser.

Updates

Update #1: I’m going to go ahead and assume that this post got passed around Netflix HQ (as one of their engineers already posted to the story with a random suggestion of upgrading to the much-maligned Silverlight-based player) and I’m now feeling the wrath of their angry fingers:

netflix-watch-instantly-horrible-performance-6hrs-buffering

Incase the image doesn’t display or you aren’t clear on what I’m getting at, during the original authoring of this article, my buffer time for media on my PC was around 1.5hrs. Now when I try and play something on my PC (2 days after this was written) my buffering time just hangs at 6hrs and 59 mins… that’s right, 7 hours of buffering time.

</sarcasm>That’s definitely a technical glitch and not Netflix leveling the hammer of streaming-justice against me as retribution for the article… god knows they are above that</sarcasm>

My previous run-in with Netflix “customer service” was when I had the 5-at-a-time account, and had what I think was Transporter 2 (Blu-ray) sitting at the top of my queue for 7 weeks. I got everything else in my queue as it bubbled to the top, but Transporter 2 stayed right at the top with “Long Wait”. I finally lost it and sent an admitedly rude (and typical internet-venting) email to the Customer Service team at Netflix. 3hrs later the wait had changed to “Unknown” or some other dubious hint at Netflix giving me the “Fuck you guy, go climb up a tree and die”.

After I cooled down (1 day later) I sent an appology… guess what? Just guess… yea… you know where this is going… I got a shipment notification for the movie a few hours later and it was on it’s way to my house.

Naturally Netflix claimed that the Customer Service reps have no access to individual customers Queues or the abilities to change them. I’ll go out on a limb here and declare shenanigans all over this like a warm pile of turtle-shit.

This company is an odd duck… it delivers an awesome service that would be so easy to sing the praises of if they just delivered it as advertised. But they don’t… and they’ll zing you if you call them on it, so you get left with this meloncholy feeling of trying to decide if you like their service or not, cause you know your aren’t getting the service they advertise… but you sorta-kind are.

If you don’t agree, cut your subscription back to “2-at-a-time unlimited” and try and rent-and-return 1 movie every other day, $1 says after you get to 6 rentals for a month, you’ll start seeing major lag in the turn around time on your movies.

Update #2: From the screenshot above where you see the 7hr buffer time now that I’m getting on my PC from Netflix for anything streaming, the odd part is that when I bring the debug menu back up and show the status window, it’s still capped at the same 50 KB/sec or so.

To clarify, the day I wrote this article, my transfer was capped at 50 KB/sec, and buffer time was 1-2hrs as reported by the player.

Now 2 days after this story went up, my transfer speed is still 50 KB/sec, but now my buffer time is 7hrs… odd.

Update #3: Stephen Stockard wrote in with a workaround for folks having this issue and it was essentially to use a proxy service to hide his throttled IP address from Netflix, more specifically:

I had the same problem as you did with Netflix throttling my streaming. It is very odd though only on my computers, which are both connected to a high speed network, the speed was throttled. When I signed in on my brother’s computer at home the movies were instant, and the same when my fiancé watched movies from her home.

I concluded that it was my IP address that Netflix was targeting.

To solve the problem I downloaded a proxy that would hide my IP address and use another while enabled. I tried again and while enabled the proxy allowed full streaming speed back at the high quality it was originally. Personally I use GoTrusted Secure Tunnel, though you might not want to pay an extra $5 something to stream from Netflix, but I have found the service well worth it. If you can find a free program that works too, but that is the solution I got.

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About Riyad Kalla

Software development, video games, writing, reading and anything shiny. I ultimately just want to provide a resource that helps people and if I can't do that, then at least make them laugh.

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238 Responses to “Netflix Throttling Instant Video Streaming Performance for Viewers”

  1. navtal March 15, 2009 at 12:15 am #

    It’s very likely that it is your ISP and not NetFlix throttling your network.

    Can you provide any evidence against this?

    • UnknownP1 April 9, 2011 at 10:47 pm #

      Yes I agree with this article. He has presented clear evidence! From my own experience, I know it is not my ISP. Also, I have a PS3 and high speed internet that allows me to stream videos from HULU and you tube, perfectly fine- Even full length videos. I cannot even watch a black and white movie on Netflix. I watch alot of Netflix, but I am going to cancel because of the movies now looking like screen shots and lack of choices for instant plays. I’d rather watch free movies on Hulu, at least there are some more choices and better play- Instantly buffers!

      P.S. They took forever to send me my dvds! grrrr, I thought they would be awsome but I guess I am going to redbox and Hulu again lol

      • Steve Jobs June 9, 2011 at 3:55 pm #

        Actually, I hate to break it to you but it’s defanitly QWest this is the one throttling you. I have notice on my QWest 7MB connection if I download or upload about 5GB of content on ANY one TCP stream that it will get limited to 50KB every time.

        I have seen this with multiple services NOT just netflix on this connection.

        • carole D September 16, 2011 at 8:49 am #

          I work for an ISP and many of our customers have NetFlix issues when their download speed from us is 2 or 3 Mbps. We do not throttle our speeds at all.

    • Nunnayabidness September 30, 2011 at 1:31 pm #

      I would like to CONFIRM the conspiracy theory in this post. I had been unable to get Netflix (of which I have been member since forever) to stream anymore. At all.

      I found this godsend article and read the comment referenced about GoTunnel. I immediately went to download and activate it just to see what would happen.

      At the moment, my show that I streamed from Netflix is paused so I can write this. It also streamed superfast, just like in the old days.

      I am on my PC. I don’t want to buy any gadgets because I am 43 years old and do not need an XBox or need the clutter of limited device such as Rokio.

      I will just have to see the 5.99 a month charge as the cost of doing business with Netflix.

      Of course, now I am getting superfast jammin’ streaming for all my video applications, including YouTube.

      Money well-spent, for a change!!

    • Steve December 3, 2011 at 1:27 pm #

      It is Netflix and it still continues to this day. I did a speed test and my current bandwidth is 10.79 Mbps… The web in general, youtube, and internet radio through my slim Device is great. Netflix is dismal and streaming has become unbearable yet again. 35 minutes to watch 2 minutes of video today. If NF keep this up, I’m booting them to the curb for good.

      PS: I got rid of Quickster on Oct 9th this year; the disk were scratched, 2 web sites, etc… I’m glad I got rid of it because I now have $20 extra in my pocket each month. Soon, it will be $29 more if they keep this up.

      • laura September 20, 2012 at 3:11 pm #

        after dumping my server and trying another with the same results netflixs kept stalling so i was unable to stream, I went back to my original server and had to apologize because netflix convinced me it was my own isp wrong wrong wrong, I now stream from another site and never ever watch anything else it is on 20/7, I believe as did the people I mistreated looking for why I was not getting the service / speeds/ I was paying for. that netflix created a problem they would not own up to. After dumping netflix I have no problems streaming at all.NEVER LAGS

    • Umar May 22, 2012 at 2:35 am #

      I have Comcast and so does my neighbor. Netflix from my house is DOG slow but is fast through her connection. I’m a heavy Netflix user. Netflix is throttling WITHOUT A DOUBT.

    • Somebody February 5, 2014 at 8:14 pm #

      I ran a complete network diagnostic and guess what… I got a stream of 52’000 kbps. That’s 52 Mbps! But when I try to stream it and the browser reports my specific data it throttled me down to 110 kbps. Just thought you should know.

  2. Fred March 15, 2009 at 12:16 am #

    Funny, I’m streaming Netflix to my PC no problem, looks great.

    Anyway, the way to look for network bottlenecks is to put the path under load by downloading/watching a movie while running tracert. This gives you a better indication of bandwidth issues at each node than a ping under no load.

  3. Bruce Hobson March 15, 2009 at 12:50 am #

    Use a network sniffer and see what the netflix 360 puts in it’s packets to ID it’s self.

    Use a wrapper around your pc software that puts out the same ID. And eats anything else.

    You should then get the same bandwidth.

    Sorry, I’m no longer programming these days.

    Bruce ;-)

  4. Corwin March 15, 2009 at 12:55 am #

    Dufus – it’s not netflix (or limewire), but your own ISP, or your own network. latency has no impact on bandwidth. A traceroute isn’t going to tell you jack about your path, otyher than it’s route, and if it’s intact. Please understand how all of this works BEFORE you go slandering folks. Oh, btw – pick a real ISP instead of RBOC crap.

    • Jack February 18, 2014 at 11:20 am #

      Dufus, I was at a party where a Netflix employee also attended. He told me Netflix slows down the DVD shipping cycle if you use the service too much. So why not the Watch Instantly service as well. I don’t over use so I only suffer slow streaming if I have problems with my PC like Disk errors, registry problems, Malware etc

  5. Samhain March 15, 2009 at 1:16 am #

    Corwin, his demonstration with DownThemAll pretty clearly shows it’s not the ISP. I’m even willing to bet he’s getting his full bandwidth when he downloads from other sites.

    I performed the same tests as Riyad, and got the same results from a different network (AT&T Uverse), about 48kbit/sec per stream.

    It’s unfortunately Netflix doing the throttling.

    • Bowhunter May 1, 2011 at 10:12 am #

      I have been looking into issues also myself. I am currently on a corporate network – 50 MB Down and Up. I am able to view 1 complete movie and if I click on a second it starts to studder about 5 minutes into the movie. It is the same exact way when I am at home. There I have 3 mb down and 1 mb up. So I know it is now related to bandwidth bottle neck. I beleive that Netfilx knows when you will be at a point that they feel you are going to use more of their service than they feel you pay for and they throttle to holy h… I can wait untl the next day and it works again for the 1st movie and studders any after. Also I notice that Silverlight is hanging on my laptop. I have a Core2 2.0 with 4 Gigs of ram.

  6. I'm Old March 15, 2009 at 1:23 am #

    You need a tracert containing _EVERY_ hop for _EVERY_ download thread before you can prove anything. Your entire post was a troll. Enjoy the ad-revenue.

  7. Alex March 15, 2009 at 1:38 am #

    Congratulations to [mostly] the elite sleuths above for your outstanding diagnostic skills. Clearly none of you know anything about computers or how they work.

    The article is a valid and logical representation of the facts.

  8. Wee March 15, 2009 at 1:41 am #

    curl -O “http://netflix-699.vo.llnwd.net/s/d3/699/39344169.wmv?e=1237204120&h=b493e799e62ec39856e36a667a1eb2d0″
    % Total % Received % Xferd Average Speed Time Time Time Current
    Dload Upload Total Spent Left Speed
    12 331M 12 42.1M 0 0 1397k 0 0:04:03 0:00:30 0:03:33 1817k

    Notice the 1817k that is MAXING out the 20 Mbit connection I have from Cox. Calculate the average out for yourself,

    42.1 MB in 30 seconds.

    Yeah, NetFlix is really throttling the paying customers!

  9. Vincent March 15, 2009 at 1:58 am #

    Create the problem, then the solution. It’s how the corporate mentality works.

    It is too bad Blockbuster bought up http://www.MovieLink.com. You could start watching a movie in as little as 1 minute after starting the download. I have never had a movie stop due to buffering. I am willing to venture a guess that it’s service too, is as bad as Netflix now.

    • Bob July 31, 2012 at 3:07 pm #

      Problem Reaction Solution

  10. Bruce Hobson March 15, 2009 at 1:58 am #

    Dude,

    The internet was designed in the 60′s by DAPA. It was designed to survive and route around any wholes created by Atomic Bombs. Each packet from each session is dynamic routed and can take a different path from the one’s before or afterwards. But, as we all know there can be bottlenecks and a number of points where throttling and traffic-shaping can and sometime does happen.

    There has been much talk and even a few law suites about these and other events like traffic-shaping….

    But, as has been said before you need to be very careful about who and what you claim. Especially if you want help and need to work with others to solve your problems not ours.

    Moreover, newbie’s will believe anything you say. Even when not based on proven facts. Do you really want to mislead others?

  11. nix March 15, 2009 at 1:59 am #

    “Congratulations to [mostly] the elite sleuths above for your outstanding diagnostic skills. Clearly none of you know anything about computers or how they work.”

    This doesn’t prove that netflix is to blame. His ISP could be throttling the connection to netflix. All this means is that it requires greater investigation.

    Alex obviously your have awe inspiring computer skills (lol) but your networking skills are severely lacking. Yes I do networking for a living: IE: I get paid professionally. You obviously don’t work in technology; perhaps scrubbing toilets is more in line with your skill set.

  12. nix March 15, 2009 at 2:08 am #

    Here is one tip:
    Try using your friends netflix account at your house and take a look at the speed. See what happens. If netflix is throttling then his account should be fine; full speed ahead. If you’re experiencing the issue still; then you may have to look at other causes.

    Just my unprofessional .02 cents worth. :-)

  13. Bruce Hobson March 15, 2009 at 2:10 am #

    Nix you need to use the same restraint you use on your job. Employers are looking at more than just a resume these days. Even conversations like these get into search engines.

    I’m retied for me it doesn’t matter.

  14. Vincent March 15, 2009 at 2:10 am #

    We need more sampling here. If you have NetFlix then repeat the experiment and let’s see the results. Preferably from thosecwho are on different ISP’s. Then you can find a common path/choke point where the throttling is taking place.

    • Travis May 20, 2013 at 5:20 pm #

      i know this is an old thread with old comments but i use a sony media player and right now any movie on netflix maxes out between .3mbps to .9mbps but if i exit netflix and go to crackle i get a steady 3.3mbps defenitely seems throttled to me if nothing else their server is way overloaded

  15. Bruce Hobson March 15, 2009 at 2:13 am #

    You can also try your account at your friend’s house. And see what you get. Especially if he/she has a different ISP.

  16. Bruce Hobson March 15, 2009 at 2:34 am #

    What nix was suggesting was a binary search. Which is the right way to find your problem.

    Are you running something else on your machine that’s slowing your connection.
    Is it some of your Hardware?
    Is it your drop to your house?
    Is it your ISP?
    Is it the Long Distance Carrier for your ISP?
    Is it the same server at Netflix each time.

    You get the picture.

  17. broilr March 15, 2009 at 3:27 am #

    One common thing I have seen regarding this is QWEST. I too have Qwest dsl and have seen the same thing concerning my netflix on both XBOX 360 and PC. I streamed from a friends house who has Comcast and then from work on another isp with out any issues, I am thinking QWEST is the real issue.

  18. Trae Dorn March 15, 2009 at 5:22 am #

    Coming to the conclusion that Netflix is the problem (or at least doing it on purpose) is nuts.

    I’m a heavy Netflix Instant Play user — I don’t have cable, so I watch at least several hours of it every single day. I haven’t had these bottlenecks pop up.

    The only time I’ve had problems is during some peak internet usage a week or two ago, and I’m pretty sure Netflix wasn’t doing it on purpose.

    Your ISP could have been throttling Netflix — or, the Netflix server you were connecting to may have *had (or currently has) a problem*. Just because it was slow doesn’t mean it was on PURPOSE.

  19. Vitiris March 15, 2009 at 6:07 am #

    The most interesting part of this article is that is shows how to permanently download any movie from the Netflix stream.

  20. Ron March 15, 2009 at 6:27 am #

    “The overall slow down combined with the huge discrepency between the two experiences (Netflix-enabled device and my PC) made me decide to start Googling and see if I could figure out what was going on — I smelled shenanigans…”

    What discrepancy? The service is sucking on both. Maybe the client software is written slightly different on each platform?

    “Now we have confirmed that Netflix is throttling instant streaming PC-users to a rediculous 50 or 60 KB/sec cap…”

    Uhh… yeah… no you didn’t. All you proved is there’s an issue somewhere between your computer and the netflix service. Where did you, at any point, prove it’s not Qwest putting in an artificial limit? Maybe it’s a peering problem somewhere on the route. Traceroute isn’t going to show you where the bad link is. Lets say Qwest is filtering the video service, well ping and traceroute wouldn’t show a damn difference compared to normal.

    Personally I think this is a non-story as far as it’s written until further, better proof can be obtained. For now, this is someone who knows just enough to do basic network diagnostics and who jumps to conclusions, rather than taking a more “scientific approach” to solving the problem. Go around asking other people with Netflix streaming over other ISP’s who watch about as many movies a month as the writer if their service has crapped out, then maybe you’ll have more of an “Educated Guess” rather than your “just pointing a finger” answer.

  21. Riyad Kalla March 15, 2009 at 7:01 am #

    @Everyone, a lot of excellent feedback so far, especially to the posters with additional diagnostic suggestions. I’ll pester some of my friends with NF accounts to see if we can do some A/B comparisons with their accounts at my house later today.

    @broilr, interesting data point — the other post I linked as to where I learned how to find the diagnostic menu on the Windows media player was on Qwest DSL as well…

    Is anyone else on Qwest that could lend an additional data point?

    I was under the impression that if Qwest were shaping my connection, the Xbox and PC would behave exactly the same, as both connections are Netflix-bound, media connections — but they don’t, two devices on the same network, streaming the same content have different behaviors — that’s what lead me to believe it was *not* Qwest. If I can collect enough circumstantial evidence from other Qwest users that they experience the same thing, that is absolutely something valuable to look at.

    • DBNickerson January 30, 2012 at 9:34 am #

      Goddamnitall! I’ve typed an extensive replyTWICE only to be told both times that “I typed the wrong ‘CAPTCHA’ phrase. I’ll try this ONE MORE TIME with only this snarky comment…if you actually want data-input from me, contact me by e-mail. I don’t have time to waste on websites that DON’T WORK!!!

      • Riyad Kalla February 2, 2012 at 1:36 pm #

        DBNickerson, that is one of the most goddamn frustrating things I’ve experienced on websites before (forums especially) and I apologize for subjecting you to that. Unfortunately I had to enable CAPTCHAs after the spam bots got crazy (I avoided it for 3 years), but manually deleting 50-150 spam posts a day is exhausting and was pissing off the readership.

        The odd thing is that comments are streaming in regularly on other posts just fine without CAPTCHA errors. I try and post from the user-facing portion of the site with the CAPTCHA’s as well when I reply to make sure the CAPS are working too.

        How long was the post out of curiosity? Was it like 10 pages printed? I wonder if the CAPTCHA error was a red-herring and if the post was hellaciously long that is what was pissing of WP.

  22. DoctorVoodoo March 15, 2009 at 7:03 am #

    Hmmm…veiled threats against future employment, clear indications of inability to understand networking, strawman arguments against clear evidence, and ludicrous claims of “no, you.”

    I deduce netflix technical support has found this post.

  23. Puggg March 15, 2009 at 7:48 am #

    I’ve had the same problem w/Netflix streaming over PC. Incidentally, I started having these problems right about the time that my ISP (Charter, St. Louis, MO) announced monthly bandwidth caps for broadband accounts that aren’t the top of the line. I get the feeling Charter is throttling Netflix so that Charter’s broadband users don’t run up against the monthly limit.

  24. lowendpdx March 15, 2009 at 8:04 am #

    Based on the screen capture you posted, it looks like you are using the old version of the Netflx movie player. Maybe you should try upgrading to the new version of the player, which is based on Microsoft Silverlight instead of Windows Media Player.

    However, the issue likely lies with Qwest, which is to internet service what Cricket is to cell phones… pretty much a bottom feeder. Netflix isn’t going to be routing traffic… Qwest is.

  25. Robay March 15, 2009 at 8:21 am #

    Hmm, yes, this artic doesn’t eliminate the ISP (Quest in this case) from being the culprit. Means, motive, opportunity. Netflix has no rational motive to throttle back (which would only piss off customers). Much more likely the ISP is the culprit as it has the motive to throttle back (bits throughput as backend cost plus system load balance), and, ISPs HAVE throttled traffic when they felt so compelled (torrent etc.).

  26. Rust March 15, 2009 at 9:23 am #

    The link in the story is not to a Netflix server at all – “llnwd.net” is a Limelight server (Limelight is a CDN, similar to Akamai, but aimed at streaming media). In this guy’s case, he is being routed to a Los Angeles based Limelight server (according to his traceroute info).

    Anyways, Netflix *cannot* throttle this link, as they do not control the server. I can’t think of any reason Limelight would need to throttle connections either – their entire infrastructure is based on the need for speed, so to speak.

    It is possible that Limelight is the culprit if their edge server was having difficulty getting the source file from Netflix’s origin point, but that would only be the case if Netflix was using it’s own origin point instead of a Limelight origin point (the company I work for uses both types of origin, and we do occasionally see speed problems with files from our own origin point).

    So, to summarize, it sounds like the problem might have been Limelight, which was a result of Netflix’s origin point having shitty speed (and it is possible that Netflix’s origin might have been throttled, as Limelight would not do that).

  27. Riyad Kalla March 15, 2009 at 9:54 am #

    @lowendpdx,

    653 comments hating on the new Silverlight player, a front page post on Slashdot about how much trouble it’s caused viewers and blog posts across the web about people reformatting just to get rid of it would stop me from upgrading.

    NOTE: I would encourage Netflix employees not to post here from work, you realize your post came from “netflix.com” right? ;)

  28. Riyad Kalla March 15, 2009 at 9:56 am #

    @Robay,

    Netflix absolutely has motivation to throttle *PC* based users, which is the point of the article. It encourages an improved user experience to official Netflix-enabled devices — a more locked down and vendor-controlled experience that they want to encourage and nurture.

    I am not knocking the business of that decision — it’s a great policy, I’d push my devices harder as well and offer perks like “HD streaming” only on those devices to get people to buy them, it’s the “kicking PC streamers in the trash” part that I hate.

  29. Riyad Kalla March 15, 2009 at 9:59 am #

    @Rust,

    As a CDN (service provider) it is my expectation that Limelight and any others would be fully capable of offering traffic controls to their customers like Netflix, Revision3, PC Mag and everyone else that uses networks like that.

    After all, I have to imagine CDNs make their money by way of the bandwidth that is consumed, so providing bandwidth controls to customers to be able to give priority to certain types of customers, regions, packet header information, etc. absolutely would need to be part of a service like that.

    – I’m not a CDN expert, I just have to imagine this is the case which means this is still entirely likely… no?

  30. nospam9 March 15, 2009 at 11:54 am #

    I am downloading the same link at 800K Bytes/sec. Thus, I don’t think the problem is with the server.

  31. Anonymous March 15, 2009 at 12:11 pm #

    You know what’s really hilarious?

    The link he posted for directly downloading the WMV actually works for *anyone*.

  32. Anonymous March 15, 2009 at 1:02 pm #

    Notice that the stream is actually coming from Limelight Networks, not directly from Netflix. Limelight has plenty of bandwidth, it’s their whole business model. Quest, being a RBOC, also has more bandwidth than god, but not necessarily everywhere.

    It seems likely that Quest is throttling on a per-flow basis, perhaps particularly targeting Limelight. You should try doing the same sort of check on stuff from Revision3, for instance, since those streams should come from the same server farms as Netflix.

    Then, complain to Quest.

  33. Rick March 15, 2009 at 1:18 pm #

    OP’s got it right. I’ve been watching and measuring the same thing from my house. I have a cable based ISP that isn’t yet employing *ANY* throttling/traffic shaping to date. I know because I make my living knowing this sort of thing. The troubleshooting carried out in the original article is valid (the traceroute only shows that a particular router along the way isn’t overloaded/silently discarding)

    I hope Netflix can get their act together… whether it’s their own server/network capacity, or whether it’s a CDN that’s unable to deliver the volume (doubtful) I want to watch my netflix uninterrupted.

    To the poster above that cites the origin/design features of the Internet, thanks for the history lesson. But you’ve got it quite wrong. While any given packet *COULD* traverse any number of paths from source to destination, the reality is routes are tightly controlled thru BGP4 (look it up) and TCP is a connection-based point-point method for reliable segment delivery. Packets traversing multiple paths to reach their destination would throw off TCP’s ability to deliver in *REAL TIME* and would jack up the re-transmit and out-of-order packet counters available to you with a netstat -s.

  34. Kenny Johnson March 15, 2009 at 1:28 pm #

    Not that they couldn’t be doing this, but it seems unlikely to me. I’m a heavy user of Netflix Instant Watch. I have a Roku. I easily watch at least 2 hours a day of Netflix content and more on the weekends. I’ve never once had any problems since I started using it regularly in August. It seems like someone who is watching 2-3hrs on week days and more on weekends would be a prime target for throttling, but it hasn’t happened to me.

  35. Harrison Hopper March 15, 2009 at 3:05 pm #

    I don’t think Netflix is throttling downloads. I think that they just don’t have enough servers to handle the load. More and more people are starting to stream movies every day and Netflix is just not keeping up with the load. YouTube has the same problem. Their servers have been almost non-existent lately since they introduced a lot of HD.

    I have never had a consistent situation with Netflix. I can watch one movie that streams perfectly and then the next one has to be stopped every few minutes to buffer. It just depends on the load on the system. I have a 25Mbps connection and can get every bit of it. The best I’ve ever seen from Netflix is 6.5Mbps and then that will drop to .5Mbps which is not fast enough to stream decent video.

  36. Kenny Johnson March 15, 2009 at 3:13 pm #

    @Harrison Hopper

    Who is your ISP? I have 20mbps from FIOS and always get highest quality. Every time.

  37. Davis Freeberg March 15, 2009 at 3:31 pm #

    I’m not convinced by your experiment. I’d like to see you try downloading with a different Netflix subscription to see if your problem is related to your account or your internet connection.

  38. bob March 15, 2009 at 3:50 pm #

    I intermittently get the same throttling problem. At first I blamed Comcast, but this experiment makes me think it is in fact Netflix. Unfortunately, Watch Instantly is the only reason I subscribe to Netflix, and I will cancel my service if they don’t fix it soon. Hulu has most of what I want anyway, and it’s free.

  39. scarabic March 15, 2009 at 4:56 pm #

    >>when we work around this trottle manually (with DTA) we see that the servers scale bandwidth (and potentially video streaming performance) without a problem

    Maybe for 1 person, but I don’t think that your multi-threading test proves that Netflix has all the bandwidth they need to serve *everybody* necessarily. If everyone dialed up 10 threads, their stuff might go down.

    It’s their bad either way. They should have the capacity to serve you. I’m just saying you can conclude they do but are mysteriously holding out on you just from this experience.

  40. hhopper March 15, 2009 at 5:04 pm #

    I’m with Brighthouse and always get great throughput as long as the sending server can push it. I sometimes see speed bursts in the high 30s.

  41. Davis Freeberg March 15, 2009 at 5:30 pm #

    Here is a way that you override Netflix’s defaults to only offer you the higher quality streams.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Cje3gM0FIuk

  42. hhopper March 15, 2009 at 5:32 pm #

    Can you get YouTube videos at the moment? I can’t get YouTube videos at all. It looks to me like their servers are down.

  43. URL_Seeker March 15, 2009 at 6:04 pm #

    Where is this logfile located?

    Windows 7 beta with IE8 DOES NOT seem have the Shift-Rt-Click menu and I cannot access the “view log” function on IE8 or Firefox 3. All I see with that is “Silverlight” which clicking on just shows the basic silverlight “About” info.

    XP MCE 2005 with IE6 also DOES NOT seem to have this feature either. Has it already been patched by netflix?

    PS: I got up to 3MB (big “B”, so 24mbits/sec) when clicking the URL above withOUT using Download Them All so my speeds are fine. I just hate the silverlight/browser player. I want to be able to use my MCE box remote to pause, fastforward, rewind my Watch Now videos.

    M

  44. URL_Seeker March 15, 2009 at 6:05 pm #

    @Davis Freeberg

    I viewed your youtube video and that is yet another thing that I cannot get to work – how recent is that video and does it still work for anybody? Tested on WIndows 7 Beta IE8 and Firefox 3, as well as MCE 2005 IE6.

    M

  45. hhopper March 15, 2009 at 6:06 pm #

    I finally got the YouTube video to load. I have a newer Netflix viewer and that trick doesn’t work with it. They’re using a SilverLight viewer now.

  46. Jason March 15, 2009 at 6:34 pm #

    Well as a professional network engineer, I will just put in my two cents of simple testing. I am an At&t Uverse user in the San Diego area. I am watching a movie right now on my PC and am getting a constant 9Mbps connection from Netflix for my movies. I am getting my stats from the “secret” debug menu. I have watched two movies so far today. I did a test off my Verizon Business DS3 at my office, same result 9Mbps. I tested from an east coast office with a 3Mbps MLPP connection and different ISP. Hit the 3Mbps mark with no problem streaming from Netflix. Not sure what you people are seeing, but I can not reproduce it. It could be a configuration issue on the server or servers from LimeLight.

  47. hhopper March 15, 2009 at 7:50 pm #

    I guess I should say that I’m watching Netflix through my computer streaming to a PS3 using the Playon server. I think the problem is the Playon server as I’m getting a steady 15Mbps from Netflix and a 10Mbps transfer across my local net. The image is freezing every few seconds or so. I don’t see how this can be an amount of data problem as the speeds are way higher than necessary.

    An interesting thing though… when I just watch on my PC, I only get about 2.5Mbps down and not 15Mbps.

  48. year March 16, 2009 at 12:06 am #

    “This post was from February 12, a month ago”

    The link is over a year old. Anything is possible, but you must start troubleshooting by trying a different connection/isp.

    “Anyone else having this netflix streaming video problem?
    Posted by tim turks on February 12, 2008 at 8:21pm in Instant Watching
    View Discussions”

  49. Anon March 16, 2009 at 12:20 am #

    Why are you people calling them “threads”? “Concurrent connections” would be a more appropriate term.

    FTR, I’m getting 750KB/sec with a single connection. I think it’s your ISP.

  50. Chris March 16, 2009 at 2:20 am #

    The problem looks to be your ISP throttling tcp connections. Most likely they don’t like their customers downloading 100GB+ a month on their highly contended links.

    Move to a non-cheapo isp.

  51. YouAreNobody March 16, 2009 at 6:49 am #

    I hope a bunch of Netflix users quit for this reason and Netflix sues the shit out of you.

    You make a bunch false accusations, run your own diagnostic without any control-environment or comparison to anyone else, and you do all this accusing without contacting Netflix or your ISP.

    “My guess”… STFU. This article has zero merit or credibility.

  52. iPhoneMIlk March 16, 2009 at 7:03 am #

    My Netflix connection is amazing on both Xbox and the PC… i have Cox cable even.. and i HATE cox.. but netflix is still amazing and buffers in less then 5 seconds…

    -_-

  53. xcbandguy March 16, 2009 at 7:53 am #

    Interestingly enough, I just got an email survey from netflix asking how I would rate the video/audio quality of my most recent “Watch Instantly” movie (which I watched on my PC). I’ve never seen one of these before; maybe they’re trying to get some statistics to figure out where their problem is so they can fix it? Not every corporation is intrinsically evil after all…

  54. Bubby March 16, 2009 at 11:42 am #

    Your ping statement on the tracert comment shows you really don’t have the networking background to speculate about who’s fault it is. Bandwidth and latency are not related as you think they are.

  55. Riyad Kalla March 16, 2009 at 12:08 pm #

    Bubby,

    I should have clarified in the original post that it isn’t the tracert, ping, downloads or behavior on their own that point the finger of blame at Netflix, it’s the combination of all 3 that do.

    tracert: Clear path to host, no obvious network problems that would indicate some other problem like a busted route.

    multi-thread downloads scaling linearly in performance: Suggests that the host is not maxed out on bandwidth and incapable of hosting faster speeds for streaming.

    differing behavior of two netflix-devices on the same network: Shows that with the same network conditions, same route to host, same account and the only difference being a sanctioned Netflix-enabled device (Xbox 360) and the other being PC player, I get two very-very different results.

    I just added an update today, I have to assume this is retaliation for this post — my buffering times on my PC are now up from 1.5 hrs to 7hrs for any media in the entire streaming library.

    Brilliant…

  56. iphonemilk March 16, 2009 at 12:13 pm #

    Hmmmm

    7 hours for you , less then 5 seconds for me. Yeah sounds like they are out to get you !!

    Or it could be the more obvious choice . Get a new ISP.

  57. Riyad Kalla March 16, 2009 at 12:23 pm #

    To address the “get another ISP” commentary, we’ve had folks in this thread already confirm similar behavior on Comcast and AT&T. On another forum I’ve seen people confirm this on Cox and Qwest as well.

    I’d also point out… again (and again and again) that the two Netflix devices on the same network bear different behaviors. It’s not a catch-all “Netflix is slow, I’m going to bitch like a banshee on the internet” story — there is legit circumstantial evidence that points at some intentional throttling occurring in an environment where the only variable is the device streaming the media, all other variables are kept constant.

    This is not much different than the disk throttling we saw with Netflix when that whole fiasco blew up either, not everyone is going to see it, but it exists, it’s not advertised and for the folks that *are* throttled, you get a completely unusable service. That was always the problem, not that they did it, but that it is not part of the service agreement and is not communicated to customers anywhere that it will occur.

    7hr buffering time? Hardly “watch instantly”.

  58. iphonemilk March 16, 2009 at 12:34 pm #

    Ok so what makes me more special then you then ?

    I watch tons of vids on xbox and pc and my buffer times are less then 5 seconds

  59. dref March 16, 2009 at 3:11 pm #

    Thanks for the interesting article. I would like to share my experience though.

    I have been using Netflix streaming through my XBOX and can view HD content almost instantly. It checks my connection to determine quality, then it begins.

    I have 16Mbps (Comcast) connection, but it also worked the same when I had 6Mbps. Now on this same connection my ISP filters the P2P and I get low bandwith.

    I would try and find a friend using a different ISP, and stream and debug using your account. This may help determine if it the ISP or Netflix.

    As far as “2 at a Time” I can recieve movies on Mon, mail them early Tues and get two more on Wed. I am fortunate to have a Netflix processing center in my city (San Jose). Also Netflix constantly asks me me when I mailed some of these to improve their service.

  60. Same old Netflix March 16, 2009 at 5:47 pm #

    We’ve noticed the same thing – and it has gotten worse in the last few weeks. Today it appears Netflix dropped the bar graph from their site that allows customers to guage video performance. It doesn’t matter what time of day we’re using it and it has nothing to do with our ISP or the route – which a few “experts” posting here suggested was the above author’s problem. While that can sometimes be the case, it’s almost never the reason for consistent slow download speeds from one site if you are using a major service provider.

    We do not have hours of buffering time (usually less than a minute), but the video will often play at a reduced quality despite our fast cable connection speed from a leading provider.

    I do believe Netflix is increasingly throttling our connection speed.

  61. Jon March 16, 2009 at 7:06 pm #

    I’m using COX, stream quite a bit and have never had a buffer of over 5 seconds. I do have a business account so mine supposedly COX lets me do whatever I want over it (if you read the TermsandConditions for the home accounts they have pretty strict stipulations for what they consider ‘normal’ use.)

    Just because opening additional connections to NETFLIX increases your bandwidth doesn’t mean that its Netflix and not your ISP throttling the connection. Perhaps your ISP is shaping each TCP connection to netflix, and not the aggregate of each outbound connection. That would make more sense to me. I’m sure that Netflix may have problems from time to time, but such a consistent problem sounds like it has nothing to do with them when so many users aren’t having problems.

    Also about the XBOX, that is interesting. Have you verified that its getting the video from the same source, taking the same path, or even downloading the video at the same bitrate? It may not even be using port 80 or TCP for that matter and doesn’t fit the (suspected) shaping rules that the ISP has in place. Of course all of that is speculation as I don’t have the time to pull out my network sniffer and play around with Netflix over Live however it seems as though there is the room for many variables which were untouched in your test that make comparing the xbox to pc streaming apples to oranges. (I do know for a fact that the XBOX version is using Silverlight technology and not Windows Media)

  62. Martin March 22, 2009 at 7:09 pm #

    I just upgraded to silverlight becasue I was having problems with the older palyer not buffering and speeds to slow.
    I noticed that some movies are not playing well while other are.
    Anyone can test this next time they have problems try another Genre or other movies I have noticed the sometimes other movies will play fine after I get pissed off that I can’t watch what I want. I noticed that the movies are being streamed from SOMESERVER-NUMBER.vo.llnwd.net . Depending on what server I attach to will vary my buffering speeds. I am thinking that limelight networks is either running out of bandwidth or the administrators are not maintinaing the servers correctly.
    netflix-938.vo.llnwd.net (Don’t remeber Movie) Painful slow /gave up..
    netflix-405.vo.llnwd.net (Porkchop hill.) Painful slow, re-buffering
    netflix-405.vo.llnwd.net (Killro) Slow but took about 4 Min to buffer.
    netflix-221.vo.llnwd.net (Fire down below)SLow but took about 3 Min to buffer.
    netflix-616.vo.llnwd.net (Starship troopers) Buffer in 1 minnute and played right away.

    I used firefox to allow me to look at the server the data was being transfered from on the bottom left.
    This isn’t a scientific study it is just something I noticed. I was curious if anyone else noticed this as well.

  63. Bill Turner April 18, 2009 at 8:07 pm #

    I watch ABC HD and Fox HD streams on a 2.6 mBps DSL Qwest connection. The video is close to broadcast quality. The Netflix Silverlite player is sub-par. Blotchy, noisy picture, and the server feed stops very often. I have to reload the browser to resume play back. I would say that Netflix has network/server capacity issues. They just signed-up too many people to please their stockholders.

  64. Julian May 2, 2009 at 3:58 pm #

    My Netflix account is a few years old. I logged on using a new account less than a month old on the same computer and guess what?

    The new account had a higher download speed. So one could strongly suggest that it was not my ISP but that it is Netflix that is throttling it’s instant streaming.

    Also, the new account had movies available for immediate rental that my years old account displayed a short to long wait for.

    For the nay-sayers who blame their ISP’s, I would suggest considering that there may be other overlapping problems in your particular cases in addition to Netflix throttling their streaming. I use Netflix and feel it’s the best out there for what it does (so far), but their business practices and openness do need improvement.

  65. Daniel May 10, 2009 at 11:14 am #

    Retribution? Are you serious?

    Guy, Netflix has bigger fish to fry than some no-name blogger in an internet chock full of no-name bloggers. They’re not going to waste their time or energy setting up some kind of punishment system for people who complain about their service. If they gave a damn enough about your article to take any personalized action whatsoever, they’d make sure your service was superior so you’d quit bitching and maybe retract some of your statements.

    Really, just… wow.

    And I think maybe you should point the finger at your ISP– the same one the other guy had problems with. I had Qwest in Phoenix, and even on my 360 I had major problems with Netflix. I know this doesn’t add up to the cool conspiracy you were hoping for, but life is actually pretty boring. I have Cox now, and I have no problems whatsoever.

    Bottom line: You’re paranoid, Qwest sucks, and Netflix is just an entertainment company that doesn’t give a damn about your blog.

  66. Riyad Kalla May 11, 2009 at 1:39 pm #

    Daniel,

    I’m not sure which part of the article you’re referring to — I made no claim that Netflix is punishing me for the blog/article/etc. If you mean the sentence from Update #2, *you* came to that conclusion. I only reported what I saw.

  67. Daniel May 11, 2009 at 3:14 pm #

    Actually, under update #1:

    “That’s definitely a technical glitch and not Netflix leveling the hammer of streaming-justice against me as retribution for the article… god knows they are above that”

    Unless I’m failing to understand your definition of sarcasm, you were at the very least playfully suggesting that Netflix was exacting vengeance against you.

    Way to censor your blog, btw. Someone might’ve actually been able to get some use out of that Qwest correlation and my shitty performance even on the 360 which cleared up after an ISP change, and now they’ll miss it because the comments were removed. *claps* bravo at least your theory is left unchallenged.

  68. Daniel May 11, 2009 at 3:16 pm #

    Oh, hell. Now I’ve gone and made a complete ass out of myself.

    Just ignore all that stuff at the bottom of my last post. It’s not important. *winks*

  69. Crystal L May 30, 2009 at 5:39 pm #

    I haven’t read all the comments but would like to tell you how I’ve solved this particular problem. When the Netflix player tells me my connection speed is too slow, and I’ll have to wait for many hours, I restart my computer and return to the movie. After that, I have no problem. I’m not a computer expert, so I don’t know if this will work for you. It’s worth a shot. At least it gets you your movie.

  70. Thanny September 23, 2009 at 7:20 pm #

    This is quite an old post, but I found it while searching for something tangentially related.

    It’s kind of funny that no one pointed out the obvious fact that the route trace you pasted in shows packet loss. That’s what the asterisk in place of a ping time means. Dropped packets can easily kill throughput.

    In any case, I never had any streaming problems with 5Mbps DSL, or my current 30MBps cable, either on my PC or on my Roku.

    There’s more than a tad of irrational paranoia being displayed here about nasty, mean, sinister Netflix.

    PS. I also never had Netflix throttle my discs, and easily got below $2 per rental in many months.

  71. Dan October 26, 2009 at 9:32 pm #

    It is not NETFLIX that is the cause of your problems, rather it is the ISP. ISPs are oversubscribed on bandwidth per customer. In other words, if every customer attempted to take advantage of their allotted bandwidth then everything would come to a screeching halt. Based upon an ISPs customer base and new multimedia services such as Netflix, along with all the others like YouTube, downloads, flash video in general, radio, etc. The ISP cannot sustain the demands. Since most ISPs generally speaking cannot instantly add more bandwidth due to their infrastructure or inherent costs, they have to sometimes shape the traffic to conserve what bandwidth they have. One can shape the bandwidth based upon a number of factors, but overall a shaping rule is applied per flow or rather conversation. That is why you could add more bandwidth with simultaneous downloads, because it was not based upon who you were but rather where each conversation was going to and type of download. Obviously as you have already stated, there was no bandwidth restriction. I have worked with bandwidth shaping devices, and your streaming results and other download tests have this type of signature written all over it. Cannot tell you what the next move should be, but your efforts may be better served in another direction. Best of luck!

  72. brian November 22, 2009 at 10:52 am #

    I have had issues with Netflix. However, mine are related to receiving them through the mail. The attitude concerning customer service is similar though. Netflix has a goal to do away with DVDs and go streaming only. Read CEO Reed Hastings press releases. They absolutely are herding streaming media viewers toward controllable players. It’s all about control. They therefore will discourage using any system (PC) they can’t control. I refuse to download any site’s players for that reason. Why would anyone require you to download their specific player to watch online media? It’s called snooping. But what are they snooping for? Some answers are obvious. Others are not. Remember the SONY BMG CD copy protection debacle? If they decide to plant something into their approved players, how would you ever know.

  73. brian November 22, 2009 at 11:04 am #

    Also, I forgot to say that DAPA didn’t develop the internet. It was DARPA. Using tracert isn’t a very accurate way to measure a data packets path. It only show what path that specific packet took at that particular time. The best path at that time could change quickly depending on system outages and use. You could draw some conclusions if you performed a tracert several times a day over a period of time to get an average. But it’s just that – an average. I, however, do believe you are being throttled. It’s not clear by whom. Your ISP does not necessarily have a clear path between you and Netlix. They have to traverse other ISP’s networks. Chances are they are giving preference to their own customers traffic. And, Netflix probably doesn’t have the capacity to serve everyone. If companies delivered what was technically available verses what they are willing to spend, we wouldn’t be writing these blogs in the first place.

  74. betts November 22, 2009 at 2:08 pm #

    I don’t understand anything about threads or any other technical jargon you folks are using. Here is what is happening on my computer/internet connection. I stream movies fairly frequently from NetFlix and the buffering time varies WIDELY. Sometimes it takes 30 minutes and I have frequent interruptions during the streaming. Sometimes it takes 30 seconds. I have a 1.5 mbps DSL line. So explain that. The buffering time has increased considerably in the last 2-3 months so it might be that Netflix has decided to slow me down because I’m watching “too many” movies. But I still get fast buffering at times – and it seems to correspond to what are probably not peak hours for the NetFlix servers.

  75. Merg January 2, 2010 at 9:27 pm #

    Slander is what I read into this. Kalla also totally missed the point of packet size. A traceroute packet is a small amount of data compared to a massive movie. I have comcast and for the most part have never had any issue, of course, I don’t have a crappy DSL service either. The only issue I have had is with my new samsung blu-ray player having some connection issues but when it is working, boy it works great. I have never had problems with streamin on my xbox or PC either. Maybe his pc is setup wrong but most likely he does eat up massive bandwith and so his ISP is throttling him for it. It is NOT netflix doing it as is obviously the case based on most peoples experiance. Personally, the uneducated should not be writing tech articles and should be working for McDonalds flipping burgers instead.

  76. danielle January 31, 2010 at 11:37 am #

    how do you turn up download threads then where is that located? sorry I’m new to all of this but I am having the same crappy experience with them telling me my internet connection has slowed and I have dsl

    • Riyad Kalla February 5, 2010 at 1:55 pm #

      Danielle, as far as I know you cannot control the speed of streaming on the PC or any of the Netflix-enabled devices. If you try and stream at different times of the day OR different movies/shows do the performance characteristics change for you?

      • netflixworker September 26, 2010 at 5:21 pm #

        you’re just a stupid consipiracistsersisssiesty

        • Riyad Kalla September 27, 2010 at 12:36 pm #

          netflixworker, I am going to find a way to work that word into weekly conversations.

      • Markj99 February 4, 2011 at 12:02 am #

        Riyad,

        That’s some very creative work-arounding (that’s a word, right?).

        I wonder, though, since it’s now a year later, are you still having the same problems?

        I’ve been using Netflix streaming for about 6 months now, and so far (knock wood!) I haven’t had any issues with throttling. I will admit to using the Silverlight player, so maybe that really does prevent problems. (Although preventing problems would be a first for Micro$quish.)

        • OmarM February 4, 2011 at 11:33 pm #

          I’m no networking techie so I was mystified as to why in the last few weeks I started getting badly buffered on my 40 inch screen (stop 10 sec, start 10 sec play) depending on two things:

          1) What I am streaming
          2) What device I am using.

          Tonight I tried watching Analyze This (gr8 movie) on the 40 inch Sony TV, got buffered as stated above. I immediately switched to my laptop, no problem at all, watched the movie all the way through without any stop start buffering at all.

          On the 40 inch all the movies I was choosing were buffering (Dr Zhivago, any Clint Eastwood movie), but when I immediately got my son to choose something and try it, he chose an obscure documentary on Planets and got no buffering whatsoever tonight.

          I can only guess the only party that can do that is Netflix.

          We live in Tomball, Texas.

          • Brian E February 7, 2011 at 6:48 pm #

            OMG, weird coincidence. I am TRYING to finish “LOST” and have had many problems with streaming. The first 5.5 seasons, I had no problems. Sometimes the picture quality would go down, but it never streamed slow. Now, it is pitifully slow, and torturous to try to watch.

            Guess what? I also live in Tomball, Texas. Do you have U-verse? I’m trying to eliminate variables.

            Thanks,

            Brian

            • OmarM February 8, 2011 at 8:53 pm #

              Hello Brian,
              Small world isn’t it? No I don’t have U-Verse, I would rather stab myself in the eyes with needles than pay anything to AT&T. I have Comcast, but I really don’t think it is Comcast, because the buffering does depend on the device and I would tentatively like to say the content as well. I think I remember when I signed up with the Netflix service they asked for my Sony TV device details so I think they know when I am watching with my 40 inch versus when I am not. I haven’t yet had any streaming problems with my laptop. If you want I can tell you what happened at the end of the last series of Lost…. :)

              Omar

              • Riyad Kalla February 9, 2011 at 7:55 am #

                hahah @ “if you want I can tell you what happened at the end of Lost”.

    • Netflixer February 9, 2011 at 7:51 am #

      I was miserable, then changed from IE to Chrome browser and now am having no problem – I hope this lasts!

      • Riyad Kalla February 9, 2011 at 7:54 am #

        Netflixer — glad that helped, but I wouldn’t expect that to be the fix… just a coincidence. On Windows both browsers are using the Silverlight Netflix plugin, so regardless of browser, it’s ultimately loading that module to decrypt and stream the media.

  77. CJ February 7, 2010 at 2:54 pm #

    I use to have NetFlix and it streamed just fine. When I moved I cancelled it. I just recently signed back up and was happy to learn that I would get unlimited movie streaming instead of the limited amount of hours I use to get. Only one problem. IT DOES NOT WORK! I have DSL and have no problem streaming YouTube, Google, Megavideo, you name it. But NetFlix takes five or ten minutes just to buffer and then when it plays it is horrible quality, like it is only playing every third frame or something, constantly freezing up. It is totally worthless. I have tried it at different times of the day and it is always the same. It is completely unwatchable. I would rather have five hours per month that I can actually watch than unlimited streaming that is completely worthless. And I see by this article that the problem has been going on for over a year? Netflix should fix the problem already or it should stop participating in false advertising by claiming that you will get streaming movies on your PC. I can’t stream anything from NetFlix. It would take five hours to watch a two hour movie because it keeps freezing and trying to re-buffer.

  78. Kenny Johnson February 7, 2010 at 4:29 pm #

    Most of have no problems streaming Netflix. I stream Netflix nearly daily for the last 18 months or so with no problems. I get 4-dot and HD streams consistently.

    I am not convinced this is a Netflix issue that you’re having. You said you don’t have problems with YouTube or Google, but neither are generally as high quality as Netflix. Netflix’s 4-dot requires about a 2mb/down connection minimum.

    There can also be issues with your ISP. You might be getting high latency or having issues with your connection to Netflix’s nearest CDN.

  79. CJ February 14, 2010 at 7:10 pm #

    Oh cut the crap. Both the Netflix community discussion site and the Silverlight community discussion site is swamped with similar complaints. I could care less about the “quality” of the movie. What good is high quality if I can’t even watch it? I have no problem streaming anything else on the internet: only Netlfix. So what good is it? If there are some type of requirements needed to use the instant watch on Netflix then they should tell you that before you sign up for it. I can’t tell you how many hours I’ve wasted fiddling with this and diddling with that trying to get it to work to no avail. Of course it is a Netflix problem, nobody else’s. I had no problem streaming their movies before they switched to Silverlight and now I can’t stream them; they play like a slide show. Duh. Figure it out. Go back to Real Player or whatever until the glitch is fixed or give us at least an option to use one or the other. Countless others have reported the same problem. Duh. Fix it! I smell a HUGE class action lawsuit coming against Netflix for false advertising.

  80. Kenny Johnson February 14, 2010 at 9:03 pm #

    A class action lawsuit because either your network or your computer sucks? I don’t think so.

    48% of Netflix subscribers use instant watch, but only a handful of problems seem to get reported. I personally know several people who stream Netflix on a regular basis (myself included) with absolutely no problems.

    It’s your network — your isp, your computer, or something else that is the problem.

    And to suggest ANY company use Real is just extreme ignorance.

    • gerald July 26, 2010 at 10:36 pm #

      i changed internet service and still get the same

    • Bob September 26, 2010 at 8:06 am #

      I stream fine on my Xbox 360 and laptops, but the PC that is actually hard wired to the router is the only one that gives me issues with Netflix. I have streamed from other sites (Youtube, etc) with absolutely no issue. It’s Netflix, not the user connection.

    • d prast January 22, 2011 at 10:25 am #

      Just got a new BD player for xmas. “Netfliix ready” Plays discs just fine but can’t stream instant movies.90% of the movies on my list won’t load at all, and the ones that do will only play for about 5 minutes before they freeze and I have to reload them. We have high speed cable, CAT-5 cable to the computer, I’ve tried switching to 1080i resolution(suggested by someone), won’t stream on laptop, TV or computer so it’s not the BD player. No e-mail or phone # readily available for Netflix, I’m ready to cancel the whole thing.

      • Riyad Kalla January 24, 2011 at 12:18 am #

        d prast – if you hit up speedtest.net what kind of numbers do you get? Video streaming does require some umph and Netflix is pretty good about streaming *something* if it can. I wonder if something else is going on.

  81. CJ February 15, 2010 at 10:27 am #

    How dare you call me ignorant! You are obviously a Netflix troll monitoring these blogs trying to blame Netflix problems on their customers. Why else would you be spouting unverified statistics from undisclosed sources? All you have to do is google “netflix instant watch not working” to see page after page after page of people with the same problem that I am having. The average person doesn’t want to hear excuses about IPs or networks or throttling or whatever, they just want the stupid video to run when they click on the play button. Even in the remote chance that what you are saying is true, it is STILL Netflix’s fault. I don’t see any disclaimer on Netflix saying there are certain system requirements needed to use the service and, oh, by the way, it doesn’t work with some internet providers or in some areas. No, they just take your money and let you waste your time trying to use it. That, my friend, is definiely a basis for a class action suit.

    • InternetUser November 21, 2010 at 2:49 pm #

      “All you have to do is google “netflix instant watch not working” to see page after page after page of people with the same problem that I am having. The average person doesn’t want to hear excuses about IPs or networks or throttling or whatever, they just want the stupid video to run when they click on the play button. Even in the remote chance that what you are saying is true, it is STILL Netflix’s fault”

      This is a common reaction from people who think technology is driven by elves hiding in their various devices making things work just for them.

      The reality is that connection routes/speeds are not consistent; you will rarely if ever see instances where your connection speed is identical for a long period of time. Most of the people experiencing these issues are not technically savvy by any stretch and thus are unaware of other contributing factors.

      For example: Netflix doesn’t house all of its movies in a single location/datacenter etc. They’re housed at multiple facilities to allow for both redundancy and coverage to various markets. This can sometimes result in a longer route (think of a route as a travel plan for your data. It’s not always the quickest and most direct path, sometimes it has to bounce all over the country before reaching the state next to you). There are also issues of saturation, if there’s a lot of traffic in your area, especially if you’re using cable, your speeds will suffer.

      Further, it should be noted that the tests provided by the author are not indicative of actual performance for streaming. Tracing the route will tell you how long it takes to get there, but won’t tell you how much throughput is possible or if there’s load on a remote server, etc.

      You may also see, as we often do in our house, performance issues due to wireless. Our Xbox streaming performs worse than our Roku player streaming due to varying distance to our wireless access point and items causing interference with the signal. Our streaming to PCs works very well without any issues.

      Finally, you have to understand that as an individual you are not special and you are not the only person using these services. There’s a finite amount of possible load on both ends and thus problems will happen. Just because you have a line capable of handling 7mbps downstream doesn’t mean that your movie is going to saturate that pipe. When you connect to netflix, it performs a speed test with your line. If there’s a hiccup, i.e. a period of slowness, packet loss, slow route, etc then it’ll negotiate automatically to provide a larger amount of buffering (downloading to your machine before playing to allow for smooth playback). Video streaming doesn’t mean that you’re watching it as every packet comes across, but rather downloading a file and then watching downloaded data as the amount downloaded continues to increase. If the download is interrupted, then the buffer will run out and it has to try and re-negotiate a connection, sometimes dropping the level of quality (smaller files and larger buffers for slower connections) to compensate.

      What possible reason could Netflix, or any streaming service hope to gain by throttling individual connections? They’d have to record a specific IP and then rate limit that IP amongst millions of connections from a multitude of devices.

      You should also note that there’s no signifying information within the download URL the author of this post provided that would single out whether the client is an Xbox, an ipod, PC, Wii, etc. All netflix sees is the connection attempt.

      There are a few things that Netflix can try (and has tried) in order to work around this, but the fact is that it would cost them FAR more money to rate limit individuals than it would to simply increase buffer amounts on clients that are connecting to the service.

      If your service is cutting out to the point where you are no longer able to stream videos, I can nearly guarantee that it’s not the only slow connection you’re experiencing.

      Finally, if you’re getting rate-limited, it’s not Netflix, it’s your ISP that is responsible for the rate limitations. Often ISPs such as Qwest and Comcast will rate-limit certain customers that download or otherwise fill up their pipe more frequently or in higher amounts than other users. These methods are employed regularly to combat BitTorrent and other forms of illegal filesharing. If you’re experiencing connection issues, try shutting off your modem for an hour and then turning it back on to get a new IP address that might not be connection limited. Otherwise, find another/better ISP or lobby the one you have to ditch these practices.

      • Master AC December 25, 2010 at 11:32 pm #

        “Our streaming to PCs works very well without any issues.”

        I have a PC and my netflix streaming sucks. The common denominator here is not IP addresses or download speeds or whatever, it”s NETFLIX.

      • Liz February 13, 2011 at 12:22 pm #

        I used Netflix in the past when they had another movie player (not Silverlight). Same ISP and service then, and it worked fine.

        Now have issues watching, starts and stops. And there’s no way to watch anything on my PC.

        Did a speed test and download is 11.35mbs, upload is 1.04.

        Called Netflix last night, they told me it was an ISP problem not them.

  82. Bill Larsen February 28, 2010 at 6:05 am #

    Same problem here in CT for 2 months. Ostensibly an organization with integrity (their stock price says they could afford it), in truth they don’t have the nads to make a press release announcing the de facto business model change. In the boardroom, they must be saying, “Let the think it’s their ISP!”, “Yeah, great idea, JR!” Like almost all other companies in these times – straight out of Dilbert.

  83. audio controller driver March 8, 2010 at 5:45 am #

    If it is the ISP that makes the throttling, what will be the most ideal thing to do in order to fix things? any recommendation?

  84. Nami March 15, 2010 at 9:55 pm #

    Well, let me clear up a few things for people. Netflix is most certainly throttling just as they’ve done in the past.

    Some years ago (3-4), I joined the class-action lawsuit that was brought about against Netflix for… you guessed it, throttling of DVD by mail service. Netlix lost the lawsuit (though they really won). I was awarded a mere month of service, WHICH I HAD TO TERMINATE TO AVOID FURTHER CHARGES!!! I swore I would never use them again, but with the changing times and shrinking alternatives I felt that I had to give them another try.

    So, my first experience was with my XBox360. Initially, everything was great! I use the 2-at-a-time DVD by mail service and I’m lucky if I’ve averaged more than 1 movie of week. That’s because I really found that I would rather use the streaming service. So, After about a month or so of watching many, many TV shows (watched all 9 seasons of Coach) I notice that my service began to slow dramtically. In fact, it got so bad that I no longer wanted to use the service. I once again contemplated ridding myself of Netflix completely.

    Enter my PS3. I was excited to try the service on my PS3 and was again amazed at the difference. Suddenly, I was wondering if my Xbox was the problem. It didn’t make sense to me, but it was undeniable; my PS3 was working great with Netflix while my Xbox was so slow as to not be useable. (I am running both through the same wireless)

    After watching a few seasons of some other shows on my PS3, I find myself again with dismal Netflix service.

    It’s simple; the more that I use the service, the slower that it gets! Thank again Netflix, you scheming bastards! And if you think this is in my head, take a gander of one of the other side-effects of that class-action lawsuit…

    From Netflix Terms of Usage:

    We reserve the right in our sole and absolute discretion to make changes from time to time and without notice in how we operate our service. Any description of how our service works should not be considered a representation or obligation with respect to how the service will always work. We are constantly making adjustments to our service and often these adjustments are not completely captured within these Terms of Use.

    It’s time to let Netflix know that you are tired of their underhanded ways!

    • Anonymous March 30, 2010 at 6:18 pm #

      I happened upon this as I was looking around for a “reason” why all of a sudden for the past few weeks my streaming to my xbox 360 has gotten so terribly slow at times.

      Here is just another “proof” for the doubters.

      I watched on streaming for about a 2 months, on and off, NEVER had a problem, always fast and very good quality. Then about a month ago I started watching some old tv series streamed. I got through one series, about 4 seasons, no problems. I cute back again watching anime series off and on, still no problems at all.

      Now, for the past few weeks I have been basically homebound due to an injury so I have been watching more than I used to. First week all was fine. Second week… starting to get some really bad buffering times, figure it is just bad timing or what-not. Week 3…. fine for an hour or 2, then bam….. almost constant “adjusting playback” crap. I KNOW it is not my connection as my laptop is right next to my 360, running off the same wireless connection, and if I turn to the laptop when this is happening I am at full strength with zero issues.

      Also, I am on the 2 at a time plan…. and when I go through movies at a faster rate the shipping time slows down considerably (from about 3 days from day I send to day I recieve, to up to 9 days). If I keep a movie for 3-4 days at least I tend to get the next one much faster than if I send it back within 1-2 days.

      “Unlimited” should mean what it says, and not be tappered down if Netflix considers you are getting “too many” or watching “too much” streaming. And this is exactly what they are doing!

  85. Anonymous April 27, 2010 at 5:40 am #

    Streaming Video Recorder is economical way to record the video u given very useful info

  86. Farn May 23, 2010 at 8:54 pm #

    Bah, they pulled it on me too. I just tested out my bandwidth and it’s at 8Mbs, until of course I try to watch a movie and it goes down to 800kbs. What’s bothering me is that the quality of the video stream is slashed to minimum when I try to watch a certain show.
    Either way, there’s no way a corporation wouldn’t do whatever it took to make all the money they want. A corporation has no conscience and doesn’t care about their customers so why would anyone expect them to do what’s best for the customers?

  87. Mark May 23, 2010 at 9:15 pm #

    I feel they are throttling. I admit I am a heavy streamer on my LG Blu-Ray player I got it in December 2010. All the movies were pretty much in HD quality, I then started to watch TV shows I never seen, I mean the complete seasons. After a month of watching shows almost daily the connection is hit & miss. I rarely get HD anymore, and a lot of the time the quality is so poor I just go do something else. I know Netflix used to hold back on heavy movie dvd users (I been there and experienced that)…but that seems to be fine nowadays (If I recall correctly they were sued for that).

    Funny thing is my connection ranges from 10Mbps to 20Mbps depending which server I am talking to. Heck I get 1.4Mbps hitting one half way around the world…so go figure. At first i thought it was Comcast throttling my Netflix, but yet I can download Youtube and other huge files from the net with no problems….which makes me think it is Netflix, and I would not put it past them. I’m thinking of putting Netflix on a 3 month vacation statues and see what happens then when I reactivate it. Worse case I cancel Netflix and just rent movies from Redbox…LOL So really Netflix if your limiting people that is plain stupid, what happens is we end up canceling our services and if we ever here of a lawsuit we sign up down the road.

    • Riyad Kalla May 24, 2010 at 8:02 am #

      Mark,

      Similar to your experience I only notice “throttling” from netflix either with disks or streaming when I start using it heavily.

      If we start burning through a series on streaming or disk and have occasion to watch things really fast I have noticed the same thing. I suppose Netflix has analyzed the data (they are smart folks) and figure out that if they don’t throttle the heaviest users they dominate the infrastructure of the service… which is unfortunate for the heavy users :(

      We went from 8-movies-at-a-time down to 4 and just watch 1 or 2 things a week now… that seems to work better for them and we watch more things on Hulu now (streaming via PlayOn to PS3) which helps balance out the streaming load a bit for us.

      Also Hulu is talking about possibly releasing a premium $10/mo service that gives you access to the backlog of episodes for shows so you get full retention… that would be a dream come true for me.

      • Chervy June 4, 2010 at 1:01 am #

        Here’s my issue:

        The amount of bandwidth Netflix uses completely cripples my network. The moment someone in my apartment (my roomate, his girlfriend and my girlfriend) is streaming a show/movie from Netflix, the network becomes unbearable going from a stead 56ms to an average of 300+ ms. The person who is streaming Netflix has no problem whatsoever as they’re gobbling up all the freakin’ network, which leaves me with no other choice than turning the wireless and lying about the internet having issues to do the simplest of tasks like using my e-mail.

        I’m using AT&T DSL “optimal” for online gaming (which I cannot partake in anymore given the abhorrently slow speeds the network suffers the moment someone streams something).

        Any networking gurus out there know how to limit the bandwidth speed for wireless users who are streaming? I fear that I’m going to be the first person to commit murder over slow network speed in his own household >.> (this is a joke before someone reports me to the FBI).

        • Riyad Kalla June 4, 2010 at 8:26 am #

          Chervy,

          Don’t murder anyone yet — this is why god invented QoS (quality of service) settings on your router. Login to your routers admin interface and see if there is a “QoS” setting page anywhere, if there isn’t, check under wireless and see if you can throttle how much bandwidth wireless users use to avoid them saturating the connection.

          If neither of those two options work for you, talk to your neighbor and start using his wireless connection instead :)

          • Chervy June 4, 2010 at 11:15 pm #

            Riyad,

            Thanks for the help, but it seems that my router (Linksys WRT54GL) does not appear to have native QoS capabilities. I would have to d/l third party firmware that replaces the Linksys router config menu and from reading a few posts about it in forums, it seems like a great deal of trouble for so-so results.

            I guess I’m just stuck of being shady and turning the internet off when I can’t take it anymore and lie about AT&T having problems ^^

            • Riyad Kalla June 6, 2010 at 12:21 pm #

              hahah, Chervy I’m sorry the solution wasn’t easier, but I like your workaround. Eventually people will get so sick of the issues with “AT&T” they will stop streaming Netflix :)

      • InternetUser November 21, 2010 at 3:02 pm #

        This still does not take into account the fact that 80% of all Netflix streamers are on itinerant connections.

        So if your logic is sound, then that means that they’d have to throttle an entire ISP in order to catch individual problem users.

        How do you account for these changes? As a network analyst/engineer, I can tell you the logistics of this are unbelievably difficult with a service as large as Netflix. The infrastructure required to perform rate limiting of this nature would be unbelievably costly.

        This article is poorly researched for how rigorously it’s being defended. I’m no fan of corporate greed, but having actual knowledge of networking on a professional level, the claims you’re making are absurd and fairly unfounded, based not on technological proof but on a selfish perspective of ‘it’s not working so it must be the fault of them there corporate fat cats’.

        Why not research this with real tools such as a packet monitor like Wireshark? Why not perform a series of tests other than opening multiple download streams that then, much like bit torrent, download individual streams into a single file? If your connection is slow for the first one, it’s going to be slow to the second, third and fourth; when you combine them, sure it’ll go quicker, but you’re still dealing with slowness getting to the server.

        What about performing speed tests on your line and posting those to verify your consistent speeds to multiple networks around the country/world to show that it’s not sporadic to the routes taken from your ISP to Netflix?

        It’s easier to just point a finger at the mass of misunderstanding than it is to perform real research before making these kinds of assertions.

        • Brian November 24, 2010 at 6:35 am #

          I am not here to defend netflix, but the comments by InternetUser defending netflix are untrustworthy. Why pass yourself off as some sort of internet technology expert to play devil’s advocate? Which is a more arbitrary judgement — someone upset with Netflix because they are not receiving the service they paid for, or someone attacking those people for trying to find solutions and getting little help from the company?

          The idea that it would be difficult or more expensive to throttle connections based on ip, connection, or any other data passed through to NetFlix is ignorant. Every single connection to Netflix can be identified, monitored, and associated with a user logon. I don’t buy the “network analyst/engineer” line. There is always new technology and software that can be purchased or created in-house. An engineer shouldn’t be so quick to stomp on the idea that something is expensive or difficult just because it is unknown how it is accomplished.

          Now, having said that, there are multiple possibilities for these types of issues:
          1. Customer equipment or configuration is to blame.
          2. ISP servicing is to blame.
          3. Netflix is to blame.

          I would suspect that all three have a role in the scope of problems people have in streaming video from Netflix. There are many, many layers in any connection to a web service. While it’s possible that Netflix and/or ISPs are not actively trying to throttle connections, the reverse is also true. The only real solutions for people that are unhappy with a service that can’t or won’t be fixed are to keep trying to solve the issue, stop using the service, use it in a lesser way that is acceptable, or cancel it and try something else.

          • Riyad Kalla December 1, 2010 at 10:03 pm #

            +1 to what you said Brian.

          • InternetUser December 26, 2010 at 5:31 pm #

            “I am not here to defend netflix, but the comments by InternetUser defending netflix are untrustworthy. Why pass yourself off as some sort of internet technology expert to play devil’s advocate?”

            I am Network and Systems engineer with over 18 years of experience. I’ve worked for 3Com, Intel and Comcast. Over the last 5 years I’ve worked independently with local companies and individuals to publish their content through hosted servers. I’m not ‘passing myself off’ as anything and it’s ironic that we’re both making the same points.

            “The idea that it would be difficult or more expensive to throttle connections based on ip, connection, or any other data passed through to NetFlix is ignorant.” “An engineer shouldn’t be so quick to stomp on the idea that something is expensive or difficult just because it is unknown how it is accomplished.”

            Consider the process when connecting to Netflix’ servers to download a movie. From their perspective, you have a random IP that can only temporarily be linked to your account. Out of thousands of active and concurrent connections, including random disconnects from some users, heavy drain from single IPs that act as gateways for Intranets (networks that use local IP addresses and are not Internet routable) and many other interactions, they would have to single out that temporary IP address, and apply either a routing rule or some form of software switch that would allow for rate-limiting that individual connection.

            In order for this to be feasible, you’d have to have an automated ruleset in place acting as triggers for limiting the connection speed when a certain threshold is reached. Most of this is likely done at the routing level and would take considerable processing power to handle just this level of filtering, let alone the streaming processes themselves.

            Additionally, people don’t seem to understand the fundamental working of media streaming. When you connect to Netflix to stream a video, you download a certain percentage of the whole file as a buffer. This buffer doesn’t stop, and basically already limits your connection speed by only allowing you to negotiate a transfer at a fixed rate. Note that when you connect and if you’re on a slower connection, the Netflix software will tell you that either the connection has slowed or that you are on a connection that only allows a certain amount of bandwidth and it will adjust the size of the buffer to account for this. When the Player stops playing and trying to re-buffer, it can mean anything from corrupt packets to complete loss of connection temporarily.

            This method of buffering means that your connection doesn’t have to be fast and thus, netflix really has no reason to rate limit you. For example, in our home, I can, and often do, have one child upstairs with our XBox streaming Disney Shows, my wife in the living room watching a movie, I’m in the office catching up on a TV series while our son is resting in his room watching something as well. We’re all on a local area network using the same Internet routeable IP address (the only address netflix sees) and we rarely experience issues on a regular, low-end DSL line. We rarely find a need to rent the DVDs, and thus have a basic account; if anyone is a candidate for individual rate limiting, it’s us and it isn’t happening.

            What about colleges that are all on a LAN, have many hundreds of users, but all using non-routable IP addresses that Netflix doesn’t see? If one user on that network gets rate-limited, they all do, regardless of how many accounts may be in use simultaneously.

            My entire point was to illustrate that the concept of Netflix individually rate limiting you is fairly ludicrous, given that there are already methods in place to prevent excessive use by only allowing fixed connection limits to begin with and then only allowing access to accounts based on their subscription type. Singling out one person is ridiculous.

            Rather than being ignorant and simply blaming Netflix, or Hulu, XBox Live, Apple TV, (insert evil corporation here to prevent the fault from being with your ISP, the fact that you or someone on your network is sucking up your bandwidth or that there may be some other issue).

            I’m not playing Devil’s Advocate in support of Netflix or any other company, I’m against people having an over-inflated sense of entitlement and simply blaming the service because they have no idea how the technology works. Whether or not you believe that I’m a real, honest-to-pete engineer is irrelevant; the complaints some have issued on here are pretty ridiculous conspiracy theories given how the technology actually works.

        • Riyad Kalla December 1, 2010 at 9:53 pm #

          IU, thank you for taking the time to post. I read both your posts and do not arrive at the same conclusions you do. I absolutely agree that the testing wasn’t as in depth as it could have been, but there seemed to be a hand wave of complete dismissal with what I *did* model in the original post and I’m not sure why. I will also agree that the reality is neither of us have any insight into how Netflix runs, so we can argue in circles all day about what they “really” do and neither of us know — all we can look at is the behaviors that we see on our end and draw our own conclusions to what we think that means.

          • InternetUser December 26, 2010 at 5:58 pm #

            As I mentioned in response to Brian above, I do know how the service functions, which was why I felt the need to post in the manner I did.

            The issue I had with your article was that it left out some key tests that would likely have shown where the issue lay.

            Additionally, the third update regarding the use of proxies: a proxy isn’t just masking your IP address, it’s routing the content from Netflix to you. Depending on how the proxy is configured, it may also be providing a buffer itself, which would also fix a series of potential issues, rather than Netflix being responsible for focusing on a specific IP.

            Again, given that the buffering system already provides a method of rate-limiting the connection, how does it make more sense to individually rate limit an account rather than simply blocking it if the use is excessive enough to warrant concern for them in the first place? What about the method of buffering that already accounts for slow connections by simply increasing the buffer size of your streamed videos to compensate?

            Finally, it seems almost silly to me that:

            A) If you’re using a basic account and only streaming a few movies at a time (which would not, with buffering, cause significant network strain per user) that you would be rate limited in the first place, or

            B) That you have a basic account but both demand and exercise the right to abuse the amount of network load you get vs other customers who are also trying to use the service simultaneously.

            Have you ever tried to log in with a laptop and your account from, say, a local Internet cafe? Do you experience slowness there? Perhaps a friend’s or relatives house with broadband or a computer, etc?

            My point is that the IP address changes in these cases; rate limiting by account/IP would require that when you log on from another IP address, you are limited and will experience slowness no matter where you are. Even if you were using a proxy, then it would associate the proxy’s IP with your account and again, rate limit.

            • Frank January 21, 2011 at 8:48 pm #

              I by no means want to jump on a bandwagon here, but I have replaced every piece of networking equipment between Netflix and my Wii that I possibly can; and my Retrieving times just keep getting longer and more frequent.

              During Thanksgiving 2010, I witnessed my retrieval times getting longer and more frequent. Since I felt Netflix would have no reason to throttle me, being that I had a 768kbps plan, I first assumed my lan was to blame. I couldn’t find any networking test to prove it, but felt it was time to upgrade anyway.

              The first networking device was the wireless router. I upgraded from the good old reliable Linksys WRT54g to a new Cisco/Linksys WRT160n. Not only did I upgrade the router; but I even installed DD-WRT after just the replacement was no help. No help there either. I switched ISP’s from Verizon DSL(768) to Clear 4G(1.5). Clearly, these two services use completely different technologies* and thus require different modems. When connecting the new modem, I also used the new network cable to do so that came with the new modem. This ISP switch also doubled the speed of my connection; which I have confirmed to multiple cities via speedtest.net and speakeasy.net and even while my Wii is retrieving a netflix show; I still get the advertised speed from my ISP. Clearly it’s not my lan being bogged down.

              Considering I can start watching a show on Netflix, pause it, then go to an internet cafe and finish watching the show from where I was…they clearly track each account precisely. Since we’re running their software at home on our client devices and downloading from their servers; they could very easily be tracking this via their software; opposed to doing it at a networking level. As a software engineer; I can assure you that this is not difficult; or expensive, compared to their existing infrastructure.

              Having replaced my wireless router; the network cable that connects it to the modem and the modem…and still see the same long retrieval times and frequency, I’m running out of bottlenecks.

              Can I say Netflix is somehow throttling my account? No. However, since day one with my new ISP…my retrieval times have not decreased, so the most logical choice left is that Netflix is causing it. Or, it is also possible that since the release of so many new Netflix devices; they simply cannot handle the load. But no matter how I look at it; the issue IS with Netflix.

              *If you are unclear on this; Clear is a 4G modem that connects via cell phone towers and does not rely on a phone line or cable line coming into my house. Thus, I eliminated those as potential issues as well.

              • Riyad Kalla January 22, 2011 at 8:25 am #

                Frank, if you really want to test it you can try two things:

                1. Create a new Netflix account and see if initial streaming experience is much better.
                2. Temporarily (for the rest of the month) upgrade to the 5-at-a-time plan and see if your buffering time decreases.

                Netflix is smart enough and has enough data to know exactly at which thresholds individual customers are profitable or costing Netflix money. They did this with disk throttling years ago (And still do) and there is no way that they don’t do this with streaming. As a publicly traded company they have to protect profits, and letting unwashed masses of $7.99/mo subscribers stream unlimited HD isn’t going to happen regardless of how much people like netflix (hell, I am one of them).

    • Michael Madsen December 27, 2010 at 12:13 am #

      Same story as all the others. all was cool until I started watching tv shows at night time all of a sudden it went way bad on the buffering time, plays with sad quality, then says my internet connection has slowed and goes so bad I cant watch it. been dl 700 Mbps in other ways but netflix is out. I am going to cancel cuz it is not worth it.

      I am a computer tech and I am not even going to lay out all the data I have on why it actually IS Netflix that is causing this.

      Previous lawsuits gives a clue as well,

      Mike

  88. Alicea June 17, 2010 at 7:09 pm #

    I just joined Netflix for the instant streaming – but hardly any movies are available. Everytime I pick one, it is only available in DVD or Blu-Ray. Guess I will be canceling after free period!

    • Riyad Kalla June 17, 2010 at 7:44 pm #

      Alicea,

      There is actually a pretty good selection available for streaming, but it is true that not a lot of the main-stream movies (especially new ones) you might be picking are available yet.

      I don’t know how you are viewing the streaming offering (Xbox, Roku, PC, Blu-ray player, PS3, etc.) but on the Xbox/PS3/Wii and compatible Blu-ray players, the “streaming” offerings is all that should be shown to you.

      If you are on PC, you need to click the “Watch Instantly” tab to only see streaming stuff, that way you don’t have to wade through a mix of streaming/DVD things.

      • Alicea June 17, 2010 at 7:53 pm #

        I am watching on my PC as well as on my Wii. I searched for about 15 movies that were listed as the “Top 50 movies” for 2007 and 2008 and not one of them was available for instant streaming.

        • Riyad Kalla June 17, 2010 at 8:49 pm #

          Ahhhh yea, I think newer movies are not on streaming. It seems to me that they need to be like 3+ years old, but more like 5 or so to be on streaming.

          Then again sometimes you get lucky, for example, Pixar’s Up is on streaming and I think it came out last year.

          A great way to find titles that are good to watch is go to:
          1. Watch Instantly
          2. Click a Genre you like
          3. Click the “See all ” button on top heading of page
          4. Then click “Sortable List” on left header above list
          5. Then click the “Stars” column and sort all movies by rating.

          You can also check the “Show movies I’ve already seen” Box if you feel like rewatching something.

          That is what I do, because I find it impossible to find movies I want to stream otherwise for the same reasons you were getting frsutrated — the massive selection just isn’t there yet so it’s easier to go into the process only looking at streamable things first.

          • Mike June 20, 2010 at 8:24 am #

            About half of my netflix watch instant Que have been moved to saved. That is why so few movies show up.

            • Riyad Kalla June 20, 2010 at 11:40 am #

              Mike now that you mention it, my Watch Instant Queue > Saved list is pretty huge a well… I wonder what’s up.

  89. Miles Lynd September 13, 2010 at 5:50 am #

    I’m located in Fort Lauderdale, Fl and use Comcast. My download speed is close to 20 Mb/s occasionally dropping to 15 Mb (Ftl to New York). My first 2 movies were streamed in Hd quality (perfect!)then the same problem as above occurred- 1 minute or so of HD quality and then the quality was readjusted to to something like 320×200. There will be competition out there and I will go with whoever provides the best service.

    • Riyad Kalla September 13, 2010 at 6:19 am #

      Miles,

      We have started to see something similar as well when streaming a lot of content (About 1.5hrs a night) — we were re-watching Arrested Development (which is in HD) and after the first 3 nights playback was scaling itself back to between 1-3 bars. It was only after we took a break for 2 days and then came back to it that everything started streaming in HD again when we wrapped up the season… then we tried to watch a few movies in HD and they all streamed at “4 bars” instead of HD, down-sampling twice to 2-bars and then back up again.

      Regardless of what people have argued against, Netflix absolutely employs a throttling algorithm; with so many Netflix-enabled devices rolling out in the last year alone, there is no way they are capable of streaming max-quality to all those clients AND staying profitable at whatever $/mo target they are trying to hit.

      It is just like today with the mail service, if you start grinding through 2-3 movies a night and sending them back in pairs at first you will see same-day turn around, which eventually turns into 2-day turn around and then 3-day turn around.

      It may be circumstantial evidence, but every time I’ve tried to test the “am I being throttled” the resounding answer comes back from Netflix “YES” in the form of degraded service.

      As far as best quality service out there, that seems to be Netflix right now. Unless Hulu amps up it’s streaming game which is suppose to happen this year (integrated on Xbox 360 and possibly PS3), but then at-scale they will just have the same problems Netflix is having anyway and have to scale again. If Hulu does temporarily provide a better service, it’s only because they aren’t at the scale Netflix is… then again Hulu monetizes with ads, which is a hell of a lot more annoying (and more profitable) than Netflix’s low-ass monthly fee.

      I’m not sure what will happen.

      • Riyad Kalla September 27, 2010 at 12:35 pm #

        My last post seemed awfully circumstantial… after another months of streaming a lot of content, it absolutely seems to be throttling.

        We are only using the Xbox 360 to stream, but the more we watch, the lower the quality streaming we get. There is absolutely a 1:1 relationship here.

        If we stream 1 episode of something a night, it’s HD ever time. If we start streaming multiple movies or episodes of the same stuff, forget it… 1-3 bars.

        Like I said, I understand that Netflix needs to do this, and it doesn’t bother me *that* much… it’s just that it’s secret and a lot of folks think they are too good or wonderful to do it that bothers me

  90. Patty September 28, 2010 at 4:37 am #

    When it says “internet connection has slowed” all you have to do is go back to browsing and reclick on the movie you were watching and it comes right back where you left off. If you wait for it to start up again after getting the “internet connection has slowed” message it can takes hours!All this conspiracy crap is people over thinking a problem and being paranoid. When Netflix has enough users addicted to instant watching, they will find a way to either force you to watch commercials or pay more, no need to sneak around.Cable tv did the same thing years ago.Cable tv used to have zero commercials 30 some years ago.

    • Patty September 28, 2010 at 4:54 am #

      Also, if anyone would want to throttle netflix, it would be cable tv which also supplies a lot of folks with their internet. My wifi provider is Time warner cable, which also provides my cable tv.It would make more sense that the cable companies would want to mess with customers watching tv shows on netflix instead of their commercial riddled channels.Right?

      • Riyad Kalla September 28, 2010 at 9:02 am #

        Patty,

        Absolutely a valid point on the big cable co’s wanting to throttle.

        The original article does clarify in detail why I thought that not to be the case at least in my own testing.

        As for stopping and restarting the movie, I tried that and it doesn’t seem to help.

        Unfortunately we all interpret these circumstantial bits of evidence in our own ways, which can lead to conflicting opinions — and I’ll admit that is all my assessments have been so far because I don’t have the configuration data on the Netflix side of this to determine exactly how or if they are throttling.

        All I can do is share the info and see if other people agree and/or see the same behaviors. I take it you are not seeing any throttling or degraded performance from Netflix?

    • aire November 9, 2010 at 7:26 pm #

      hit the refresh button at the top of your screen exit full screen hit refresh and it will pull it right back save some time in going back and shit. I’m having the same damn problem with my internet I don’t knowshit about internet but we run at 6 something or other and we have horrible problems with instant streaming I need another site to go to that like netflix has plenty to instant stream and mail.

    • d prast January 22, 2011 at 10:44 am #

      You’re right in that the movie reloads after going back to the main menue, but it happens every 5 minutes!! It took me 4 1/2 hours to watch a 2 hour movie. I don’t have that much time to waste. It’s lame. And we are new subscribers and have had this problem since day 1 so our viewing history can’t have anything to do with it.

  91. theedge November 11, 2010 at 10:01 pm #

    Found this article after googling for people experiencing similar Netflix problems, and I thought I’d share mine.

    Picked up the service almost 4 months ago as I had just purchased a new TV that supported Netflix instant watch via a built in application. The first 1-2 months were nearly problem free. I tend to watch at least a movie per night or 2 episodes from a season of whatever TV show I have in my queue. I was really pleased with the service and started recommending to everyone I knew as I completely ditched my cable TV subscription in favor of instant watch.
    However, over the past couple of months, I’ve slowly and more steadily started noticing buffering pauses when watching movies. Most recently, it’s gotten so bad that if it persists I am going to cancel my subscription. Movies are becoming unwatchable now due to buffering every 15 seconds. My 15/5mbps connection is 100% healthy and I have no problems with any other online streaming except with Netflix.

    The gradual and consistent degradation of stream quality seems very fishy to me, and I have a strong hunch that I am being throttled due to my (heavy, I guess?) usage. I have been leaving negative feedback via their ‘report a problem’ system for every movie/show I watch that has a buffering problem, but things have only gotten worse. I also attempted to find a contact email so I could send them feedback and make them aware that they are about to lose a customer due to the quality of their service, but no such animal exists on their site.. only a phone number. Fat chance I’m going to sit around for 20 minutes to get some CSR who’s going to blow me off and assure me ‘they’re working on it’.

    Just my .02.

    • Jim November 14, 2010 at 9:41 am #

      I’ve had Netflix for about a month now and have noticed the throttling on my pc every time I watch something. But it has not been throttling my ps3 which is odd from what I’ve been reading in this thread.

      My biggest issue with Netflix streaming though is lack of older movies. Okay, I admit it. I love old ’30s & ’40s gangster movies. Netflix has not one gangster movie starring James Cagney, Edward G. Robertson or Humphrey Bogart available for instant streaming! NOT ONE! They are available on dvd though.

      Now I understand the time & cost of getting the streaming rights for more recently released movies, but what is the problem with these older movies? Here’s another example; the movie ‘The Desert Fox’ (1951 James Mason) is on;y available on dvd, but ‘The Desert Rats (1953 James Mason – Sequel to The Desert Fox) is available for streaming… go figure.

    • John November 20, 2010 at 1:16 am #

      Netflix does not throttle streams. It can’t. When you stream a movie, you are not getting it from Netflix, you are getting it from another company called a CDN (content delivery network). Netflix pays three companies, Akamai, Limelight, and Level 3 to deliver movies to you. All big internet companies use these same CDNs to deliver their websites and content to you.

      If you are having problems with streaming, they are likely due to one or more of the following factors:

      1. Your connection to the CDN is having problems. It is not uncommon for one of the 10 to 20 computers between you and the CDN to be experiencing some sort of problem.
      2. Some devices are better than others. Xbox is not the best.
      3. Your ISP could be throttling your bandwidth.

      • Riyad Kalla December 1, 2010 at 9:38 pm #

        John, you bring up perfectly valid points that might cause slow streaming, but suggesting that the CDNs don’t provide load balancing controls to their client to effectively throttle heavy users is not correct.

    • Riyad Kalla December 1, 2010 at 8:55 pm #

      theedge,

      You can test if you are being throttled due to your subscription level by upgrading to 4-at a time or something like that for just 1 month and see if the buffering problem goes away suddenly. I see similar behavior if I watch a lot of content day after day, but if it’s just a few things a week, it all streams in HD. I have the 4-at-a-time plan.

  92. MyKoL December 1, 2010 at 11:35 pm #

    Riyad Kalla,
    I was hoping that you might be able to answer my question. I have a Netflix online only account and I have been testing it out. It seems to slow down at night and for some reason when I’m on my 8meg line I get HORRIBLE video quality on my HD tv. I’m running this through my XBOX306. I get the same video quality when testing it out on a 1 meg line with a wii… WTH, are they still throttling? How can I test this to check if they are doing it? I’m almost positive that it isn’t my ISP, I have 8 down and 6 up. Hoping that you could answer this question. I was going to buy this as a gift for a friend but now I’m not sure.

    It took 20 minutes to load Zombieland to play and then after 15-20 minutes into the movie, it says my internet connection has slowed and then it errors out.

    • Riyad Kalla December 2, 2010 at 10:12 pm #

      MyKoL, the trick to troubleshooting this stuff is to test each “leg” of the connection and see if you can find where the error lies. Reading your post, for some reason the first thing that popped into my head is that you might be on cable and it might be oversold in your area or you have a few heavy users bogging down bandwidth at night.

      IS your 360 wired or wireless to your router for it’s connection? If it’s wireless, grab your laptop or other wireless device and hit up speedtest.net at the moments that netflix is choking (stop the playback first) and see how your connection is performing. If it’s a wired Xbox 360, then just hop on your desktop or some other wired computer and do the same test… at least that way we can rule out the problem being either inside your house (signal interference, networking setup, etc.) or outside your house (your ISP is getting swamped and your connection is getting bogged down at the ISP level temporarily).

      That being said, if your connection is fine, it’s entirely possible there is something about the route to the CDN that Netflix has chosen for you to stream the content from that gets problomatic at night, and I don’t have any workarounds for that :(

      • Wes December 27, 2010 at 12:48 pm #

        I have had the same issues with netflix. It’s odd that my buddy can log into my wifi network with his Iphone and stream instantly while all of my equipment on my same wifi network (xbox360, multiple pcs, iphone) all have buffer times that take hours. While I can technically understand limiting use based upon bandwidth per day used, I can’t understand why netflix doesn’t admit it. If they did admit that I would say “fine, I’m a bigtime tv watcher so it’s not an optimal fit for me,” but rather I just see posts about netflix responding with “We don’t throttle users based upon any criteria.” and it’s quite obviously a lie if 1 friends Iphone (same model too btw) can get instant watch on both my wifi and 3g and my iphone receives opposite results on my wifi and my 3g. For those who are wondering on 3g we we’re right next to each other watching as mine buffered and his played. While I would absolutely love to use the service I don’t see me ever getting past this although I will try the proxy idea when I get home tonight. If anybody has a step-by-step listing of advanced (Power-User) troubleshooting (not some 1.Reboot device 2.Check Network Connection type of routine troubleshooting) I would appreciate it being posted so that if Netflix truly, honestly isn’t throttling my connection then I’d love to use the service as it’s instant watch library is unparalleled and worth every penny as far as I’m concerned (even with the recent price increase). Thanks.

        • Riyad Kalla December 27, 2010 at 9:32 pm #

          Wes, thank you for sharing your experience. The issue you outlined (the divide between what Netflix advertises and what they actually deliver) is the big sticking point for me. If there were some metrics given around what you *actually* get given your subscription level, then I would say everything is legit. If you do 1-at-a-time, don’t expect to stream HD all day long… if you have the 8-at-a-time plan, you can stream HD until your TV sets on fire.

          Naturally if they did spell out exactly the algorithm used for balancing usage between users is, that would kill the “magic” of the marketing around the use of “Unlimited” everywhere.

          And I suppose technically they aren’t breaching that contract with users… it is unlimited… but they make no claims to the quality of the stream, even if that means an hour of buffer time at the lowest resolution. Technically they aren’t limiting us :)

          All that being said, I’ve been a Netflix customer for years now and am pretty damn happy with the service. I just didn’t like the shenanigans when I saw it rear its ugly head.

  93. JKM December 17, 2010 at 3:28 pm #

    IMHO, the problem is much more complex than anyone realizes. Is Netflix throttling?………that is not the real question. Are they employing a QoS to provide a high-demand, shared-resource to many people while trying to give each user their fair share? I’d say, absolutely yes. And so are the level one providers, the CDN’s, and your ISP.

    Consumers seem to think they they are entitled to unlimited everything for almost nothing. As a small Wireless ISP, I can tell you that the Internet capacity is nowhere near ready for unlimited streaming content. Netflix has a business model that can’t be supported with the present Internet infrastructure, period. We are only starting to see the problem.

    The Internet is a shared resource. At the present time it is estimated that Netflix is 20% of the total traffic. I suspect it will be half the traffic in a few years. Think about that……this means over a few years it has doubled the traffic. This means one content provider will have as much traffic as all the rest of the millions of content providers. Will all the ISPs and content providers sit still for this, I doubt it.

    Here is an article I wrote about the specific of a wireless network:
    For years contention based ISP business models have made Internet service affordable to consumers. This business model is in grave danger due to the increasing amount of streaming content becoming available. The consumer thinks they can acquire a dedicated service for a contention-based price. We must work to educate them.

    I believe the average consumer does not understand the cost of Internet products very well, if at all. The cost from least to most is content, bandwidth and transportation. In my area 60 – 70% of bandwidth cost is transportation. Then it must be transported from the providers PoP to my network and across a couple more links to the AP. In my opinion all of this is still not the real problem.

    The one hurdle that is the hardest to overcome is last-mile network capacity. This can only be overcome with technology. Technology like most things in life is a trade-off. We can have somewhat better technology for much more money and much less range. What this means is we can have the capacity to stream video to many but it will raise the price of the Internet service for all on the network. It would easily double the cost of the network in last-mile hardware costs alone. Now factor in the bandwidth. If one-third of the customers on the network stream video, the demand for bandwidth will increase to 360% of normal. This does not account for the fact that with 33% of us watching streaming TV on a 1.5 Mbps connection during prime time we will exceed the capacity of the Access point by 3.6 times. Another drawback to technology that supports more bandwidth is that range will be greatly decreased and coverage to as much as half the customers in our area will most likely be lost. I made these calculations based on an access point serving 100 users. But just 10 customers streaming TV on a 1.5 Mbps connection during prime time can use all the capacity of that access point. This means that the ISP could need as much as ten times the equipment to keep up with demand. This will exceed the load capacity of the tower, not to mention the lack of spectrum to accommodate that many APs. So now I hope you are starting to see the value of your present TV service. It is transportation not content that makes your cable or satellite TV cost so much. I can’t see a way to design a wireless network that will support 30% – 50% of it’s customers watching streaming HDTV, even one channel per household during three hours of prime time viewing, and be affordable enough to remain in business. I know in our household, various family members watch two or three different channels at once.

    In addition please check the following links to start to understand the magnitude of the streaming content dilemma:
    http://www.businessweek.com/magazine/content/10_ 50/b4207043617708.htm
    http://gigaom.com/2010/12/01/fcc-opens-the-door- for-metered-web-access/
    http://www.dslreports.com/shownews/111586

    This is a real problem that few understand. I know many will think this is a lie from an ISP to control traffic. Seriously, I started a WISP to provide service to rural Americans with few if any other options. In my service area about 35% of us do not have access to anything but dial-up, satellite and if we are lucky wireless. Now I have to watch the Digital Divide grow because I can’t acquire affordable technology to provide streaming content to my customers. I will continue to pay $80.00 per month for my satellite TV. As the owner of my network I cannot transport the content for what the satellite provider can. In addition, It would be selfish of me to monopolize the shared resources of the network.

    As more consumers use a streaming content, the quality of everybody’s Internet experience will decline at an amazing rate. Fiber is the only answer, but I honestly do not think we can expect it in many rural areas for at least fifty years.

    Hopefully when you see the contrast of what a large percent of Americans have for Internet service you will appreciate your situation more. And yes, the rural/wireless situation is unique. However all that uniqueness does is make the real problem easier to understand. The Internet is not ready for full-blown streaming content. Another streaming competitor will make things even worse and that is bound to happen. Wait and see.

  94. Anon December 30, 2010 at 6:18 pm #

    Hello! I enjoyed reading this.. I have a similar problem to the one reported above but this one only happens on the PS3. Ever since netflix removed the streaming disc, I can not watch anything instantly.

    Everytime I go to load something, it will play for about 1 minute and then buffer for around 2 minutes – this happens every time. I can utilize netflix on the PC or iPhone and watch the same exact thing at the same exact time with no problems.

    I understand that internet speed had a lot to do with the speed and the quality. I called netflix to report this problem and they told me it was a problem with the speed. I don’t know how this can be possible since it works fine on the other devices.

    Thanks in advance for any suggestions!

  95. Mateo January 12, 2011 at 8:49 pm #

    There’s several home issues that can be a factor – for instance, if two people are streaming netflix simultaneously, one device will get higher priority than the other, a good example being a Wired X360 versus a wireless Wii 2 rooms away from the gateway. PC downloads eat up priority as well.

    My major complaint about netflix streaming is using Silverlight, which struggles to process 480P streaming video, on a machine capable of flawless Blu-Ray and other 1080P video playback. It’s inefficient. And this isn’t a bandwidth limitation issue – Silverlight actually shows you how much it has buffered in the progress bar at the bottom. It just plays a properly buffered movie like crap, with an ActiveX plugin instead of a more realistic solution that takes advantage of hardware.

  96. Annette Macdonald January 14, 2011 at 10:47 am #

    I have Netflix on my TV through my WII.
    I have watched 1 program on my PC, now I can’t any thing on my PC,
    please help me.

  97. Brenden January 23, 2011 at 8:00 pm #

    WOW,
    that was the most amazing article ever. I haven’t laughed that hard since George Carlin at Carnegie Hall.
    Thank you for that tid bit… I didn’t know if I really wanted to switch to BB however, it is official now. I am pitching NF out the window.
    I found this article after noticing my HD is always dragging ass and I was scratching my head considering I spend an arm and a leg on T1 service and Netflix still drags ass on the HD streaming. Thank you for saving my sanity.

    Sincerely,
    Brenden
    BWingMedia

  98. tmg January 29, 2011 at 9:09 pm #

    I’m having the same problem streaming form my Samsung DVD player. Most of the time it works fine, but here on a Saturday night NetFlix probably just doesn’t have enough bandwidth for all the users. It sux that I can’t use it any time I want, but will probably still keep the service for watching something on a Saturday or Sunday afternoon. As long as it keeps stopping to buffer, most of my movies will come from HBO, MAX, or SHO recordings on the DVR. That money could go to NF instead if their service didn’t suck.

  99. Alan Cabal January 31, 2011 at 4:03 pm #

    Streaming is a suicidal business model. Netflix is DEVOURING bandwidth with this. It’s a shame. When they were just delivering DVDs, all was well. Now Netflix is going to die.

  100. brad` February 1, 2011 at 5:26 pm #

    with the ability of networking on the computer via the internet I dont see why more people are not starting consumer groups where purchasing decisions are made as a whole and when there is a problem trust and believe that a company will fix problems lower prices and cater to every need of said group

  101. theCavalier February 3, 2011 at 12:24 am #

    I’ve read through the amazing list of complaints here, and have been surprised that it isn’t more widely known to people before they subscribe. I guess it’s still the buyer beware model of business. I’m in the grace period now, and I have a very low tolerance for business false advertising. Whey the say unlimited use, I expect just that. With that in mind, I’m going to use the hell out of the instant service, and if an unexpect slowdown suddenly and mysteriously appears, they’ll never see their first payment. The reason we get crap for product is that we endure crap for product. If we never voice our discontent with our money, things never change. I subscribed in good faith, and have no problem pulling out if they don’t deal in good faith. There’s nothing I need to watch so bad that I’ll put up with being jerked around. It just isn’t entertaining.

  102. JD February 10, 2011 at 8:14 am #

    It’s the ISP – either yours,or theirs (Netflix’s). Not all ISPs regulate bandwidth the same way – some use a rate cap, some give unlimited until some number of bytes pass, some implement new policies, etc… Netflix is chewing up their broadband services and they have no choice. I wouldn’t blame Netflix – all they want to do is deliver their service – what they can’t do is control all the pipes in between.

  103. well-duh February 20, 2011 at 11:18 pm #

    Some problems are probably caused by where and how movies are placed on Netflix’s storage media – very similar to disk fragmentation and program file placement optimization on your PC. Except of course there are huge numbers of users wanting different files and many different starting times for each access of the same file. Of course very popular movies will be buffered to faster random access devices.

    But it is still quite possible for a relatively few people demanding less popular files to soak up the capacity of specific devices to do random access. Or eventually the number of different playback times to soak up the capacity of devices dedicated to a single file.

    If I had to guess I would guess that Netflix buffers most movies being played to RAM first. Popular movies would remain in RAM. But loading and unloading less popular movies would eventually cause fragmentation issues with RAM. At busy times I would suspect that less popular movies do not always remain loaded entirely in RAM.

    Finally the popularity and number of selections mean that movies are served from more than one computer cluster and probably from more from more than one Internet connected data center.

    So I have no problem seeing the same movie playing great if you access from a less fragmented and traffic congested server cluster but being a total fail off a different cluster or from an alternative data center.

    Explanation Bottomline: Unfortunately the simplest approaches to distributing the incoming Internet requests among the different server clusters is based on routing requests to different servers clusters based based on some hash of your IP. Thus within a short time span certain IPs will tend to get repeatedly routed to the same sucky server cluster. In fact in the worst case where lazy programming does not periodically “clean up” and reinitialize the hashing tables used to route…you will tend to see a rather static distribution of IP ranges to server clusters.

    So while some malice and self-servicing schemes are likely involved, we are more likely seeing a much heavier application of the old adage about “never ascribing to malice anything that can be explained by incompetence or sloth”

    • well-duh February 20, 2011 at 11:29 pm #

      oh the outgoing port number is probably also involved in the distribution hash (to cover multiple customers behind NAT routers). But since its a separate numeric field I can quite easily see different computers behind a NAT router being routed to Netflix server clusters and some others clumping (mapping) to the same cluster.

  104. well-duh February 20, 2011 at 11:32 pm #

    tracebacks/Pings will not get past the Netflix outside firewall much less the load distribution balancing switch.

  105. samuel harris February 21, 2011 at 6:26 pm #

    please help me with this problem. Every time i download a movie onto my computer, after about 1hour the movies starts to slow down and also begin to studder. Can you help me. thank you!

  106. Jean Mulligan February 24, 2011 at 11:50 am #

    I am supposed to have CenturyLink, 10Mbps DSL, no cable available here, and the kids bought us Roku for Christmas when Netflix started upping their prices so we could stream all we want and get our subscription price down with Netflix. Last week we started having problems with streaming, even using the Roku. It happens mostly at peak times, though occasionally at non-peak hours. I don’t think they just target PCs. But my husband has started streaming from his laptop at work when nothing is going on. He’s a realtor and has a lot of downtime. I have wondered if as our usage goes up, Netflix just jumps in with a throttle? I am questioning my DSL at this point, however, also, since my computer seems to have slowed down. I’m running an iMac 2.66 Ghz intel-core 2 duo, with OS 10.6.6 (Snow leopard). I need to test download speeds before going further here, but it’s enough to make one wonder.

  107. tanderson February 25, 2011 at 8:09 pm #

    Like spitting in the ocean, but am compelled to spit. Prior to the last couple of days (currently 02/25/2011), streaming was fine. Excellent, in fact. Buffered faster than a youtube vid and looked much better. Streamed via PC and PS3. PS3 would always buffer and play quicker, though the PC wasn’t a laggard either.

    Now, however, both PS3 and PC are having to constantly pause and buffer during a flick despite taking ages to “determine video quality”.

    I’m trying to use a proxy (HotShield) and while the rest of the net’s performance is similar to what it was before the proxy, Netflix is still sluggish.

    Does make me suspect that I’m being targetted for throttling.

  108. Riyad Kalla March 1, 2011 at 5:48 pm #

    Has anyone with streaming trouble tried Stephen’s workaround posted at the bottom of the original article? (using a proxy to mask your IP from Netflix)

    He said he was using GoTrusted Secure Tunnel for $5/mo to get a masked IP; it would be a really fast and cheap way to confirm the throttling and get your speeds back up if you like watching a lot of content.

    • Goyo May 9, 2011 at 9:40 pm #

      Yeah,
      I have just tried it. GoTrusted has changed my IP. Netflix is streaming again.
      Previously, on my PC, Netfilx was completely unwatchable. I work at my pc and usually keep a program streaming next to me most of the day. The service suddenly became unwatchable as I would need to refresh every minute or so (or wait for 10 minutes for it to load). My xbox and wii have had no problems at all. With my offshore IP address the streaming is high quality with zero stops on my PC. So is it my internet provider or is it Netflix? Hmmmm…..

  109. Doug in Montana March 9, 2011 at 8:57 am #

    I have had streaming problems with Roku for the last month or so, when we started watching 2-3 hour per night streaming. Netflix says that it isn’t their problem and my local ISP is giving me 1.2 to 1.3 which is as good or better than I have ever had. Lately I can’t make it 10 minutes into a movie before the quality drops and starts to lag and rebuffer every 4-5 minutes.
    Is there any way to mask my IP address with Roku?

    • Riyad Kalla March 10, 2011 at 8:30 am #

      Doug, using the tip at the end of the article you could try and get yourself setup behind a dynamic proxy so Netflix constantly sees different IP addresses and their throttling doesn’t kick in.

      Keep in mind that if they are uniquely identifying your usage by device ID, the proxy won’t help as they would see that “Doug’s Roku Box” is still the client requesting all the streaming data.

      Actually the more I think about it, the more I’m sure they probably uniquely identify users by device ID than IP… or some combination there abouts.

  110. tmgirvin March 12, 2011 at 2:49 am #

    Since I posted my complaint I found out that I had a network problem in my home wiring where a CAT5 ethernet cable in the wall that I was using at 1Gbps would cause so many errors and packet-resends that it would force Netflix streaming and u-verse TV to halt downloads. Once I forced the line speed down to 100 Mbps, the problem is gone. So, I take back my accusation that Netflix is the problem. Sorry for thinking it was you, Netflix!

  111. usenet cost lower than netflix or vudu March 13, 2011 at 11:32 pm #

    thanks netflix

    I have had enough of your fascism. remember, I pay YOU

    well not for much longer

    instead of $10/mo for netflix I’m drawn to $8/mo astraweb SSL usenet. yup two dollars less, no throttling, no transcoding away all the quality of HD.

    actually as many movies as _I_ want :: again I couldn’t care less about your other customers.. service ME for MY money

    usenet via astraweb over SSL provides download speeds at my full 50 megabits/sec transfer rate limit. :P

    keep screwing with me netflix and I’ll tell the other users about usenet.. oh look I’ve gone and done it now.

    what’ll I do with that $2/mo extra I have now? butter for the popcorn.. that’s alot of butter

    • Riyad Kalla March 14, 2011 at 11:00 am #

      That is like saying you are done shopping at the mall because it’s so much cheaper to just rob mom & pop shops around town to get what you want.

      I’m not passing judgement, I’m just saying your comparison is apples-to-oranges.

      Compared Netflix to other VOD services, compare usenet to… other usenet provides and bittorrent I guess… =/

  112. cab March 28, 2011 at 5:30 am #

    noticed the same SD limits watching netflix on my PS3 over the last few weeks, first few months were great watching HD content. Just as I was about to click suspend account I notice in the same series of account managment links ‘ manage video quality ‘ .

    haven’t been here, havent seen this. suspect a recent addition to account properties? I clicked to allow HD content and all is well again.

    if this is a sneaky add in to save bandwidth, I wonder how many customers will just watch any HD content in SD now because they dont know any better !

  113. Drat May 9, 2011 at 8:14 pm #

    This is not netflix, it is your ISP. When you use a proxy you are essentially using a different service(not netflix). Your ISP doesn’t see you connecting to netflix so they don’t know to throttle it. They just see you connecting to the proxy. ISPs don’t have to throttle entire connections, they can target specific traffic such as netflix and limit it to a set speed. Besides, I’m sure your package isn’t business class connection so your IP is dynamic(changes frequently). ISP’s charge extra for a static IP address. Throttling netflix is very common, particularly if your ISP is a cable company, i.e. a direct competitor to netflix. They want you to buy digital cable. Net neutrality laws are aimed at making this practice illegal.

    • Quantum January 16, 2014 at 9:02 pm #

      Net neutrality laws are a well intentioned but poor answer to the problem. A better solution would be to break the regulatory stranglehold that ISPs have through lobbying. Believe it or not, ISPs are in favor of net neutrality. Just like Amazon is not so secretly in favor of an Internet sales tax. More laws just mean less freedom for competition.

  114. AL June 9, 2011 at 10:49 am #

    THIS IS A VERY GOOD IN DEPTH REPORT THAT CLEARLY DESCRIBES A PLAUSIBLE CAUSE AND EFFECT RELATIONSHIP.
    IF NETFLIX IS SELLING MORE SUBSCRIPTIONS THAN THEY CAN SERVICE ADEQUATELY , IT IS NOT ONLY A DISSERVICE TO IT’S CUSTOMERS BUT BE A BREACH TO AN IMPLIED WARRANTY, THAT THE SERVICE WILL PERFORM ADEQUATELY . BASED ON NETFLIX ADVERTISING A NORMAL PRUDENT PERSON WOULD EXPECT TO BE ABLE TO WATCH STREAMED MOVIES DURING PEAK HOURS INSTANTLY.
    MY NETFLIX STREAMING HAS DIMINISHED TO A POINT THAT FORCES ME TO WATCH STANDARD TV.
    THIS IS CLEARLY A SITUATION THAT SHOULD BE INVESTIGATED BY THE ATTORNEY GENERAL.

  115. mrvin October 21, 2011 at 4:10 pm #

    Well screw all of you assholes that are streaming netflix! My internet (verizon MIfi), has gotten to the point that it is as bad as dial up used to be. If NetFlix is using up 30% of the bandwidth I think NetFlix should be putting money into the internet instead of draining it dry!!

  116. mrvin October 21, 2011 at 4:12 pm #

    Screw all of you assholes that are streaming Net

    Flix. My internet is now just as bad as my old dial-up!

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  118. Russ January 21, 2013 at 7:39 pm #

    I’ve basically gone and repeated the posters steps… and found:

    They are indeed throttling me as well. OH and after I got through to someone who actually talked, they admitted that using a proxy was basically the only way to get the speed back.

    I’m closing my account with them – this is 100% BS

    OH, and I also confirmed that on my xbox 360 on the SAME network; NO ISSUES yet my Apple TV/PC/ipad/ps3 all are slow. – using quest.net

    At work – same issues – if I bring my xbox in – its amazingly fast there too – OH and thats COMCAST, not quest

    OH and its also slow as hell on my VZW 4g connection via hot spot or built in air card to the ipad 3.

    YES – they are throttling ALL services accept the xbox 360 it seems, on various IP providers.

  119. Kimberly June 8, 2013 at 2:47 pm #

    I have a roku player and have the same problem it is Netflix not my isp oh I do have proof my amazon prime is fine as well as my vudu and the cable co tested the line its working as it should. So it is Netflix I just got rid of them and stuck with amazon prime.

  120. Steve C July 15, 2013 at 1:08 pm #

    Even though this blog is from 2009, I just started having the same problem with Netflix slowing down. It tries to start out fast with 4 stars in HD then stops, switches down to just 3 stars then buffers for a long time before it will play. Did anyone ever find a solution to that problem?
    Oddly this is now happening at exactly the same time that Century Link started advertising their Prism streaming TV service in the Phoenix area? Could that be a coincidence?

    • Karl August 5, 2013 at 10:04 pm #

      Problem is Netflix. I have several on-demand services including Crackle and Hulu. Netflix will be buffering at 1mb and I can switch over to Crackler or Hulu and it will instantly jump to 5mb. Go back to Netflix it is one. Lots of BS above but original thread is correct. If ISP or any other hops were the bottleneck I wouldn’t see the instant performance change on all other online services.

      I have not figured out how to solve this and am about to cancel my Netflix. BTW amazingly when I watch on Sony Bluray or Panasonic TV I have similar performance of 1mb but when I watch on my son’s Xbox my performance jumps significantly.

      These two points confirm the initial poster’s suspicions. Bad news is I have not been able to solve the performance problem and am about to cancel Netflix.

      • Steve C August 6, 2013 at 10:25 am #

        My problem isn’t the same since it plays find on the PC but but I want to watch it on the Roku connected to my TV and that’s the one that slows down to a crawl and so does the Sony Bluray player. It’s obvious they are using different streams and some work better than others.

  121. Glinda December 25, 2013 at 2:55 am #

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  122. Quantum January 16, 2014 at 8:56 pm #

    Old post that seems to still be alive. If ISPs can throttle torrents, they can throttle Netflix. There is no reason an ISP couldn’t throttle Netflix and let other traffic pass with higher priority.

  123. Somebody February 5, 2014 at 8:19 pm #

    So I ran a comlete path diagnostic to the netflix servers, and surprise! I had a connection speed of 52 Mbps. And that was on a single channel, but if I open up to multiple channels I could get over 2Gbps!!! At that speed I could download the whole show in about 4 seconds!!!!!!!! However when I don’t hook direct and I let the browser report what it wants it drops down to 110 kbps. During all this I was porting through the same pipeline, so there was no change there. Fascinating isn’t it though?

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  17. Matthew Clower - March 16, 2009

    #Netflix “on-demand” is throttling the service to the point of “unusable” http://bit.ly/PT2tu

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