Now showing on Netflix: To Whom It Pays Tolls

Internet service providers are getting unsolicited screen time on Netflix. The Los Gatos company in February signed a deal with Comcast, then blasted having to pay “tolls” to ISPs in order to provide its customers with a smooth, fast video-streaming experience. A couple of months ago, Netflix also signed an interconnection deal with Verizon, which it’s now shaming when streaming video slows down.

Here’s how:


As noted on Quartz, Victor — a Vox Media designer — isn’t the only one who’s seen the “error message,” other Twitter users have said they’ve also seen an “AT&T network is crowded right now” message.

Netflix, with its millions of video and TV-rental subscribers, and CEO Reed Hastings are famously outspoken. When the Federal Communications Commission asked the company to weigh in on the proposed Comcast-Time Warner Cable deal, Netflix took the opportunity to blast Comcast and its tolls. The company has for a couple of years released a monthly index that ranks providers’ average speeds; Comcast speeds have improved since the company reached a deal with Netflix. With this latest decision to publicly blame ISPs for slow streaming speeds, Netflix is shaming companies that are now its partners. A Verizon spokesman told ReCode: “This is a PR stunt. We’re investigating this claim but it seems misleading and could confuse people.” Netflix replied that it’s testing the messages as a service to its customers.


Photo: Getty Images archives

Levi Sumagaysay Levi Sumagaysay (4262 Posts)

Levi Sumagaysay is editor of the combined SiliconBeat and Good Morning Silicon Valley. She also helps take care of, the Mercury News tech website. Email: