Verizon threatens to sue Netflix for blaming it for slow download speeds

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Verizon Communications’ war of words with Netflix escalated Thursday, as what began with a tweet is now pulling in the lawyers. The telecom giant sent a cease-and-desist letter to Netflix, demanding that the popular streaming service stop sending messages to customers saying Verizon’s crowded network is to blame for slow download speeds. “There is no basis to assert that issues with respect to playback of any particular video session are attributable solely to the Verizon network,” wrote Verizon general counsel Randal Milch to Netflix’s chief lawyer, David Hyman. “Verizon demands that Netflix immediately cease and desist from providing any such further ‘notices’ to users of the Verizon network.”

Verizon Communications has threatened to sue Netflix after the video streaming company started displaying error messages that blamed Verizon for low-quality video streams. In a letter Thursday to Netflix’s General Counsel David Hyman, Randal S. Milch, Verizon’s general counsel referred to reports that Netflix was displaying messages to users that the “The Verizon network is crowded right now” and that Netflix was adjusting the video for smoother playback. There is no basis for Netflix to assert that issues relating to playback of any particular video session are attributable solely to Verizon, according to the letter. Traffic on the Internet can be affected by other factors such as Netflix’s choices on how to connect to its consumers and deliver content, interconnection between multiple networks, and consumer-end issues such as home wiring, Wi-Fi and device configuration, it added. Citing the Internet Phenomena blog, Verizon said that instead of using its ability to connect directly to every broadband network in the country, Netflix has tried to cut costs by relying on a “panoply of content-distribution and other middle-man networks” to reach customers.

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