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Federal Communications Chair Tom Wheeler has said that the FCC will most likely address net neutrality violations one at a time, now that a federal court has ruled that it couldn't use the blanket enforcement it had on the books. The FCC might just have its chance to take on the first violation. Though Verizon denies purposefully slowing service for Amazon on Netflix on its FiOS network, there's allegations to the contrary.
On Wednesday, a Texas man named David Raphael wrote on his blog that Verizon was intentionally throttling Netflix subscribers and other Internet users who rely on Amazon's cloud computing service. Verizon quickly denied the complaint, saying it continues to treat all traffic equally.

Raphael, a software engineer for the cloud-based security firm iScan Online, said he was first alerted to the problem on Jan. 26 when the president of his company complained of "major slowdowns" while using iScan remotely. After determining that nothing was amiss with iScan's product, Raphael returned home to find that his own connection to Amazon Web Services—on which iScan runs—had been degraded.

Connections to AWS were limited to 40 kBps, Raphael said—about 240 times slower than the 75 Mbps fiber optic connection Raphael was paying for. Raphael discovered that even content hosted on AWS by others, including Netflix, was also slower.

The slowdowns only occurred on Raphael's and his boss's home networks on FiOS; he couldn't replicate the problems on their work network. He contacted Verizon and captured this bit of chat he had with the customer service representative, who said that the company was "limiting bandwidth to cloud providers."
Screenshot of chat between David Raphael and Verizon customer service rep.
Now, as Brian Fung says in this article, you can't take the customer service representative's word at face value: would this person be privy to decisions the company had made if it was deliberating limiting bandwidth to certain traffic? Verizon says it's investigating, and that this employee was misinformed. They insist that they continue to follow the principles of net neutrality.

At the very least, the FCC needs to be on the lookout for more reports from FiOS customers. But to truly be proactive, Wheeler needs to look into these allegations. And while he's at it, he should think very seriously about reclassifying Internet Service Providers at utilities that the FCC can more directly regulate.

Originally posted to Joan McCarter on Thu Feb 06, 2014 at 12:32 PM PST.

Also republished by Daily Kos.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Tip Jar (50+ / 0-)

    "The NSA’s capability at any time could be turned around on the American people, and no American would have any privacy left, such is the capability to monitor everything. [...] There would be no place to hide."--Frank Church

    by Joan McCarter on Thu Feb 06, 2014 at 12:32:09 PM PST

  •  Counter-point (5+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    tapestry, mconvente, annan, mbayrob, nchristine

    However, my guess is that unless net neutrality is mandated by regulations, it's just a matter of time. We don't have nearly enough competition in the marketplace to prevent such practices.

    •  And we don't have enough access to their network (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      yoduuuh do or do not

      The arstechnica article you point out makes it clear that Verizon will know where their bottlenecks are (the more innocent explanation for what happened here), but since they treat this kind of information like trade secrets, there's no way for someone at our end to see "traffic shaping" -- special handling of packets that would indicate they are favoring one type or source of traffic over another.

      Overselling their network is a problem too, even if it is not a net neutrality problem.  Remember -- an ISP can throttle all traffic for a user.  If they were having capacity problems in the last leg of their network, a work-around (for Verizon) would be to slow down all of the subscribers in that segment of the network.  Again, not related to favoring one source of data over another.  But border-line fraudulent nonetheless.

      Perhaps the thing to do is to create a sort of "distributed quality" test where people can volunteer to use software that checks for trouble.  As long as the ISPs don't cheat by making this kind of "open source" solution not allowed by their terms of service, we could figure out if congestion fit one kind of pattern or another.

      Quote of the week: "They call themselves bipartisan because they're able to buy members of both parties," (R. Eskow, Campaign for America's Future.)

      by mbayrob on Thu Feb 06, 2014 at 02:48:53 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Well, the employee was right in one way (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        daeros, mmacdDE

        Traffic was throttled to begin with, to the rate contracted by his data plan.
        The same data plan that I'm using this very moment.
        He's limited to 75mps down, 35mps up.

        Now, on another part, I ponder how rarely I actually see that 75mps down, regardless of protocol used...
        But, it's more than acceptable, installation DVD's download in a reasonable amount of time.
        And I have to remember that bandwidth is a finite resource. In one position I worked in, I had to restrict the bandwidth of one client organization so that the entire installation could still conduct business. That single client organization wasn't paying in, but had some agreement to be provided service, no specifics for data rate, etc, but used 95% of the bandwidth for the entire installation.
        Once throttled, they switched to their own circuit.

        •  I'm on FIOS (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:

          and I routinely see 90-100Mbs on my 75Mbs connection.

          When I was on a lower tier, I also saw max speeds ~10-20% higher numbers than my supposed cap.

          Most of the people I know on FIOS report similar experiences, and there was a broadband survey put out by one of the tech sites supporting similar stats. Most of the cable internet companies didn't provide the advertised bandwidth with the exception of FIOS.

          Now, lest I be accused of cheerleading for Verizon, I have to say I'm pretty pissed about their tech support which hasn't been able to resolve my degraded signal which only occurs on channel 690 Comedy Central after 5 calls in!!!

          I need my Daily Show.

          •  Except… (0+ / 0-)

            Verizon—running that load on their crappy modems kills them.
            5 total replaced by me in the last two years alone.

            And they took out all the support here in Orange County, California, I have to drive to Long Beach (LA county) to replace parts.

            Yes, I the paying customer have to drive to another county to get service.

            Awesome, fucking, AMERICAN business thinking Verizon.

            I would tell you the only word in the English language that has all the vowels in order but, that would be facetious.

            by roninkai on Fri Feb 07, 2014 at 08:47:58 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

        •  I dug up the chart (0+ / 0-)

          though it's over 2 years old by now.

        •  You mean the ex-employee? (0+ / 0-)

          Because he/she was probably fired for letting the truth slip out.

          Like the old Soviet (whispered) joke about the citizen who was caught saying "Stalin is an idiot," and was arrested for "revealing state secrets."

      •  I know there have... (0+ / 0-)

        ...been some backbone peer to peer data transmission problems that have effected netflix and D&D online and other MMORPGs.  Something about parts of the internet backbone having pissing match over unbalanced communication swaps.  Don't understand it but it has been going on for quote a while.

        We Glory in war, in the shedding of human blood. What fools we are.

        by delver rootnose on Fri Feb 07, 2014 at 06:56:20 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

  •  I was thinking of switching to FIOS (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    annan, yoduuuh do or do not

    from Comcast because they are offering me a good deal. This makes me reconsider, especially since we use Netflix a lot.

    1. Books are for use.

    by looty on Thu Feb 06, 2014 at 12:36:28 PM PST

  •  Certainly they don't get the benefit of the doubt (3+ / 0-)

    We know they've censored text messaging; some years back, they admitted to exactly that.

    As Ozy points out, it's almost impossible to tell the difference between Verizon throttling Netflix, and Verizon just not creating enough capacity in their network to cover enough users.  Which would be pretty annoying too.

    Given the lack of transparency of companies like Verizon, you only have their word on these things.  And we have a pretty good idea what their word is worth.

    Quote of the week: "They call themselves bipartisan because they're able to buy members of both parties," (R. Eskow, Campaign for America's Future.)

    by mbayrob on Thu Feb 06, 2014 at 02:39:55 PM PST

    •  thotling (0+ / 0-)

      and not providing enough capacity is the same thing to the end user.

      The lack of capacity comes from putting too many people on the network without upgrading said network

      This happened where I lived when qwest and centurylink merged   before they put fiber-optic in.
      They throttled about a third the speed.   just under the lowest allowable minimum.  getting 4-4.5 mb  down to 2mb in peak hours, instead of 7mb.
      It made it difficult to watch netflix.

      discovered the throttling by watching the pings from server to server , Then cross reference with netflix side to see what rate it was going from their end to the first non ISP provider server.    The slow down was the last section to my computer(my ISP).

      They kept adding more and more customers till every single switch was used.

      since fiber was put in I consistently get 7 to 7.2mb.

      also work with the end service to help you track it down they want your customer service and many times they get mad when ISP blocks or degrades them.

      Netflix customer service was very helpful in helping figure out where the bottleneck was.  Just have to get the right tech support personnel and persistence.

  •  Private VPN (0+ / 0-)

    It's fairly inexpensive to set up a private VPN (and there are plenty of services available online). Once he begins using the VPN, Verizon will have no way of knowing which site he connects to.

    •  can't (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      verizon still see the data flow, just not read it?

      rate of information transfer 7mb or higher over length of time  then block/reduce based on that.

      verizon doesn't have to know specifically what it is.

      Also verizon could see that you using VPN? then tell you that if you want full access to full speed, you have to turn it off.(then they simply add another line to terms of use that says something along lines "high traffic forbidden on VPN because it breaks security features verizon put in place to protect its networks from overload thus under DMCA would be violation for circumventing protections")??

      A-lot like how sites are starting to say that if you do not turn on javascript you can't access their site because they want to be-able to control how you use there site.. like bombard you with advertising.

      •  many businesses (0+ / 0-)

        use a vpn for a variety of reasons. I use one because at times I need to access a secure network to move huge amounts of data. When I had FIOS, my vpn usage was never questioned or throttled. Now I have Comcast - and the same experience.

        Yes, perhaps things will change, but for now the vpn solution is viable.

  •  Netflix' own ISP performance charts for (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Andrew Lazarus, sweatyb

    this past December:

    Fox News: Redistribution Of Ignorance.

    by here4tehbeer on Thu Feb 06, 2014 at 07:30:37 PM PST

    •  slightly faster than Dec 2012 (0+ / 0-)

      What can it mean?

    •  From the link (0+ / 0-)

      Noteworthy in December:

          Performance was up in all countries, except the US and Mexico. The US is now essentially at par with Ireland and slightly above Mexico in the bottom of the country-by-country averages.
          In the US, Cablevision, Cox and Suddenlink continued to show performance increases, while Bright House and Comcast tumbled five spots and other ISPs such as Verizon and Time Warner Cable also showed slower averages compared to last month.

  •  Just the fact (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    that Verizon claims to have the fastest internet service is a bold face lie and they continue to push that lie in their advertising. And anyone who believes it and signs up with them are just as stupid as they are. Your only other choice right now for internet service are over priced. No matter which way one turns there is a corporation that will screw you no matter what.

  •  Sloooowwww dowwwnnn (0+ / 0-)

    This issue should outrage Republiclowns as well as Dummycrats. Why? Because in the future whoever is in control can throttle the political opinion of the other. While I'm sure the Republiclowns are salivating all over themselves dreaming of that ability, how will they feel when the worm turns? Maybe the Republiclowns should see this as a conspiracy and get their man Bill O'really right on it. In the end it will affect us all no matter our political stripes.

  •  Another (0+ / 0-)

    I don't understand why the FCC doesn't have authority over the net? Since many people use VOIP ( OOMA, et al) it IS a telecommunications platform. Therefore if ANY company that restricts bandwidth for their own profit they should lose every last dime if someone is calling 911 or any emergency service and their call is disrupted or made unintelligible due to bw restriction.

  •  Duh (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    I would not take Verizon's word at face value.  For Christ's sake they have an agreement with the Federal Government to violate our civil liberties with impunity.

    If you had good reason to suspect your spouse of 'cheating' how readily would you believe what he or she said?

    Get real.

    "I saw the best minds of my generation destroyed by madness," Allen Ginsberg

    by Hermenutic on Fri Feb 07, 2014 at 05:38:05 PM PST

  •  Great post... (0+ / 0-)

    ...but you might want to be a little clearer in your attributions.  I believe the block quoted part is directly from the Washington post article.  And the tech conversation is from both the wapo and the other persons blog.

    Just a suggestion from a non writer.

    We Glory in war, in the shedding of human blood. What fools we are.

    by delver rootnose on Fri Feb 07, 2014 at 06:51:35 PM PST

  •  have you ever talked to a customer service rep? (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Nowhere Man, mmacdDE

    The idea that the person he talked to even understood his meaning is so absurd.

    I strongly believe the meaning of "Yes, it is limited bandwidth to cloud providers" is:

    "Yes, your connection is slow because there is limited bandwidth between you and the site you're accessing."

    Which is obvious. The tech isn't offering a solution, he's acknowledging the anger of an irate customer with a problem the tech is completely incapable of resolving.

    "My internet is slow. It must be because Verizon is f-ing with me."

    •  Agreed (0+ / 0-)

      the fact that the rep spent 1/2 hour (IIRC) with the customer before this came out is telling. I doubt the rep would have spent that much time on this chat if he'd known from the start that the customer was simply being screwed.

      Let us all have the strength to see the humanity in our enemies, and the courage to let them see the humanity in ourselves.

      by Nowhere Man on Fri Feb 07, 2014 at 07:32:00 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  Violation of Service Contract? (0+ / 0-)

    I wonder if throttling down of speeds on specific sites would be a violation of service contracts. Contracts for internet connection are based upon a paying for minimum bandwidth, irregardless of the source of the data. Unless there is something hidden in the contracts that gives them a right to arbitrary slow sites down, I don't see how they legally do so. I smell huge class action suits if the telecoms start playing games.

    Now these sorts of contracts are generally month to month. What I find far more interesting in speculation that AT&T is posed to slowdown traffic from certain big sites on their cellular network. If they go that route, I expect that would open the door to voiding all of those two year contracts, since people agreed to them with the understanding that they would have equal access to all sites.

    •  there is (0+ / 0-)

      a 2/3 to 3/4 speed window as long as they stay above that and dip bellow for certain amount of time, they are not breaking contract, it is in the fine print.

      I went through this with centurylink when it took Qwest.

      •  It is also possible that (0+ / 0-)

        there is language in the contracts saying something like, "barring any new legal decisions", thereby giving them the leeway to mess with us.

        "Lone catch of the moon, the roots of the sigh of an idea there will be the outcome may be why?"--from a spam diary entitled "The Vast World."

        by bryduck on Sat Feb 08, 2014 at 11:02:13 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

  •  if it hasn't (0+ / 0-)

    yet it will sooner rather than later.

    save america defeat all republicans and conservatives

  •  Most assuredly not an AWS throttling (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    AWS experiences network issues all the time. It's the price of doing business in the cloud. There is no reason to think that it would only apply to this one tech worker on one specific operating system, and not for everyone else.

    Secondly, Netflix does not stream its movie content from AWS, but from dedicated servers hosted by ISPs.

    In conclusion, any AWS slowdown this person experienced is solely do to their particular circumstances and not because Verizon throttled AWS traffic.

    The Left must be diligent to not go down these rabbit holes, as this is tinfoil hat territory. We must treat it as such.

  •  Korea (0+ / 0-)

    Hey Verizon, why not match pricing with the rest of the globe?
    Afraid of the "free" market?

    I would tell you the only word in the English language that has all the vowels in order but, that would be facetious.

    by roninkai on Fri Feb 07, 2014 at 08:42:47 PM PST

  •  Likewise, my experience with AT&T UVerse (0+ / 0-)

    Without going into detail, it's almost certain that AT&T also arbitrarily throttles bandwidth to a wide range of IP blocks for unpublished reasons.

    Do not get service from these guys.

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