In November, Sandvine, in its “Global Internet Phenomena Report 2H 2012” found that audio and video streaming account for 65% of all downstream fixed line Internet traffic in North America between 9 pm and 12 am, with Netflix traffic accounting for half the total.
That puts Netflix in a rather unique position to assess the performance of North America’s Internet Service Providers (ISPs). On Dec. 11, Netflix VP of Content Delivery announced it was launching a program that will “publish monthly rankings of major ISPs based on their actual performance across all Netflix streams.”
Here’s what Netflix has found and published in launching the program:
- Google Fiber is now the most consistently fast ISP in America, according to actual user experience on Netflix streams in November.
- Broadly speaking, cable Internet services rate higher than DSL.
- AT&T U-verse, which is a hybrid fiber-DSL service, shows quite poorly compared to Verizon FiOS, which is pure fiber.
- Charter moved down two positions since October.
- Verizon mobile has 40% higher performance than AT&T mobile.
Florence notes that “average performance is well below the peak performance due to a variety of factors including home Wi-Fi, a variety of devices, and a variety of encodes. The relative ranking, however, should be an accurate indicator of relative bandwidth typically experienced across all users, homes, and applications.”
4 thoughts on “Netflix Starts Rating Major ISPs—Google Fiber Rates Best”
It would be nice if a definition of "major ISPs" was provided. At the moment Google Fiber is so small they should hardly be included. If their inclusion is based on their provided speeds then there are several providers missing from the list.
Excellent point. There are a number of ISPs out there who have been offering what Google is doing in Kansas City for some time, some of which with larger subscriber bases and some of which with smaller. We do our best here at Telecompetitor to highlight all of these carriers. We should all encourage Netflix to offer a more inclusive list going forward.
I use Netflix over 6 Mb/s DSL almost every evening, and it works very dependably. That's because Netflix utilizes a caching scheme and content delivery network (now mostly their own), that enables more efficient caching with ISPs, especially to those that elect to peer directly. Not all do – but volume and efficiency would probably dictate the need for improved peering. So, yes, FTTH networks like Google's in Kansas City is logically going to get higher ratings for its total bandwidth capacity, but what likely sets the Cable and DSL ISPs apart isn't only the line's bandwidth limitation (as we all know there are distance limitations on DSL, and, cable shares its downstream among users), but it's also the arbitrary caps ISPs place on downstream traffic. One can stream Netflix video reliably and with quality at 3 – 5 Mbps, and HD video at 5 – 9 Mbps. So where distance and bandwidth sharing isn't really an issue, maybe the ratings are more a function of the local ISP's downstream allocation, and not so much about the baseline network technology and its inherent bandwidth capacity, i.e, copper versus fiber versus coax. The rating question should be measured on whether Google caps bandwidth to the end users like the Cable and DSL guys? There's certainly no technological reason to do it, and probably no market rationale as the new guys in town, so they've found a way to win. The cable and DSL guys, however, live in the dark ages of their laddered bandwidth pricing plans, designed to extract higher fees from subscribers. Consumers keep getting the short-end, and for no good reason. There's plenty of bandwidth to go around – but you have to be customer focused to deliver it.
I use Netflix over my Comcast cable line and have no issues. But yes, I wonder who are the "major ISPs" as well. nice post.