Streaming video takes up bandwidth. Netflix streams a lot of video, so the company was taking up huge chunks of bandwidth from ISP’s. By coincidence, it seems that Netflix users found that their experience began to deteriorate….a lot, while other video streaming sources worked fine. Strange. It seems that Netflix thought so too, and suggested hardware solutions, but in the end, some of the big ISP’s were not moved. Finally, Netflix negotiated a financial agreement with Comcast and Verizon, and after some haggling a deal was struck. Very quickly, Netflix users on Comcast found Netflix streaming faster; however, Verizon users still tolerated long buffering times, challenged video quality on Netflix due to slow streaming speeds.
Speeding Up Netflix on Verizon
Blogger, and CEO of Customer.io (an email service company), Colin Nederkoorn, in his informative blog article, “Verizon made an enemy tonight”, after some testing, found that Netflix was running at 375 kps on his Verizon Fios internet service. Nederkoorn pays for 75 mps down, and 35 mps up. So, on Netflix, he was getting 0.5% of the speed he was paying for. Yikes!!!
Here are some excerpts from his blog, explaining what and how he improved Netflix performance on Verizon:
Can a VPN make streaming Netflix faster?
My hypothesis here was that by connecting to a VPN, my traffic might end up getting routed through uncongested tubes. Basically, if Verizon is not upgrading the tubes that go to Netflix, maybe I can connect to a different place (via VPN) first where Verizon will have good performance and there will be no congestion between location 2 and Netflix.
Was I successful?
Here’s a recording of my test:
How to keep the VPN connection open
We sometimes watch netflix on the TV, sometimes on the iPad. I didn’t want to have to think about how we connected, so I wanted to find a way to connect the router to the VPN so it would be always on.
I bought an Asus RT-AC66U. I really like this router and it works a lot better than my old Airport Extreme. However, in order to connect it to a VPN, I had to flash it with a custom firmware from some wizard named Merlin.
After updating the router, you’ll now have a screen where you can connect to a VPN and tell the router to always be connected.
Your router might be different, and there’s also Tomato and DD-WRT as alternative firmware (Editor’s note: Here is an article I wrote about setting up a Linksys router with DD-WRT: http://wp.me/p2J68t-1N)
Is Netflix being throttled on Verizon’s Fios? On the surface, it may seem so, but there are multiple layers of complexity involved here, and there could be some code conflict somewhere on Verizon’s side creating the problem. What we know is that Neflix is running slower, much slower, than it should be on Verizon’s Fios network. If you have Fios, and you like Netflix, a VPN, as demonstrated by Nederkoorn”s tests, looks like a very workable solution.