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Netflix Ranks ISP Speeds 186

Posted by Soulskill
from the what-would-they-know-about-transferring-data dept.
Carnth writes "Netflix will start releasing monthly ISP speed reports for the U.S. Google Fiber ranks at the top. They say, 'Broadly, cable shows better 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.' Hopefully this will give consumers a better overall picture on how their ISP performs compared to others."
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Netflix Ranks ISP Speeds

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  • by MrEricSir (398214) on Tuesday December 11, 2012 @09:05PM (#42256019) Homepage

    There's plenty of smaller ISPs that get better speeds than many of these providers. Would have been nice to see them on the list along with the heavyweights.

    • by crow (16139) on Tuesday December 11, 2012 @09:07PM (#42256037) Homepage Journal

      I'm surprised that Google Fiber is large enough to get ranked. I would have guessed that there were other regional ISPs with more customers that weren't listed. Perhaps they're listed simply to encourage the others below them to pick up their speed.

      • by korgitser (1809018) on Tuesday December 11, 2012 @10:38PM (#42256581)

        My guess is that they just want to ack some pressure on the big ISPs who all want Netflix to cough up for outbound traffic.

      • by ILongForDarkness (1134931) on Tuesday December 11, 2012 @11:55PM (#42257007)

        Small regional players probably don't have all the media hype that Google Fiber has gotten. That said 2.55MBPS how cute. Admittedly I can't benchmark against Netflix since it sucks ass in my country but I get 18MBPS (not Mbps MBps) pretty easily from torrents and large sites like MS, youtube etc. It does get pretty annoying actually to have that much speed at times sometimes I open a streaming video somewhere and download the whole thing before I realize it isn't the video I was looking for where as with a slower connection maybe only 1/10th of the video would be loaded before I can click the next/back button. I'm sure there is some limit to how much Netflix will push to you regardless of your bandwidth (you only need to stream so fast to keep a decent buffer on your video).

        • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday December 12, 2012 @01:55AM (#42257523)

          It does get pretty annoying actually to have that much speed at times sometimes I open a streaming video somewhere and download the whole thing before I realize it isn't the video I was looking for where as with a slower connection maybe only 1/10th of the video would be loaded before I can click the next/back button.

          Oh you poor baby! That reminds me. I sure hate when I am standing on the deck of my yacht and I light a Cuban cigar with a $100 bill only to remember that I'd rather have my butler bring me more martinis to drink before smoking. I mean doesn't that just plain suck? Other people think THEY got it rough, well buddy they should try that sometime!

          • No the thing is I have a traffic limit after which they charge me. So: wasting traffic still matters to me since it effectively costs me 50c per GB (both for upload and download which essentially makes being a nice guy with torrents cost me double)

        • by locopuyo (1433631)
          I'm assuming it is 2.5 Mb/s because that is the bandwidth of the video stream. The average connection is way higher than 2.5 Mb/s. It is a connection stability test not a bandwidth test.
          • by utkonos (2104836)
            Um, no. You are misreading the units of measurement. Lowercase "b" is bit. Uppercase "B" is byte. The unit in the article is byte, and there being 8 bits in one byte. To convert the speed in the article to the units that you are taking about, you would want to multiply by 8. Therefore, Google Fiber averages 20.4 Mb/s in the units that you are referring to. That's a pretty good average for service in the US.
            • I no longer feel bad about my 150Mbps connection :)

            • Mb/s is nothing to be cheering about.

            • by Leto-II (1509)

              Um, no. You are misreading the units of measurement. Lowercase "b" is bit. Uppercase "B" is byte. The unit in the article is byte, and there being 8 bits in one byte. To convert the speed in the article to the units that you are taking about, you would want to multiply by 8. Therefore, Google Fiber averages 20.4 Mb/s in the units that you are referring to. That's a pretty good average for service in the US.

              Go back and read the linked article again. The graphic clearly shows the units as Mbps. Bits. The grandparent is correct.

          • All those numbers suck. They should be double or quadruple by now considering how long we've been using broadband.

      • by icebike (68054)

        Given that Google Fiber is not huge leaps and bounds above the top 4 contenders, I suspect in-home infrastructure is the limiting factor here.

        Comcast and Fios are close contenders, although we don't know where those were measured. Comcast can be very spotty in some locations and
        just great in others.

        • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday December 12, 2012 @01:50AM (#42257503)

          the problem with comcasts service is that the netops side is not one unified force. the company is basically a big conglomeration of local markets all marketed under the same brand. how things are done in one market can be radically different than the way things are done in another market. the backbone and the connections to it are wonderfully run, but the closer you get to the edge of the network, the levels of quality start to vary based on how the local markets operate. they have a great deal of autonomy and as long as they make their numbers, they don't get bothered.

          (posting AC as im currently a comcast netops monkey, and the internet never forgets)

          • by berashith (222128)

            I was wondering about this, so thank you. I had to switch from comcast the AT&T DSL a few years back, and while I had both connections active I tested both speeds. This allowed the same gear, same computer, same everything, and over a decent sized download the DSL was faster every time.

    • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

      by Anonymous Coward
      For that matter, I bet that all those "students" who who watch Netflix in the university library could show a 5000% better connection than anything Verizon or AT&T has to offer.
    • by Anonymous Coward
      Yep. I'll stick with my DSL with my small ISP. Even if it isn't as fast as cable or FIOS, I have true unlimited with no caps and they don't monitor or filter any traffic. I'd rather have a slower connection that I can use for anything than a super high speed connection that is limited to the corner of the internet deemed ok by some corporation.
      • I'm on cable. Last month I downloaded over a terabyte on usenet. So far I'm at 530 gigs this month.

        I have to ask though, can your DSL even download fast enough to even reach where I've hit in only 11 days? I am not downloading 24/7, I just pick up full blu-ray images of movies (40 to 50 gigs each) and tv shows in high def (typically 1.5-2.5 gigs a pop) on usenet.

        FWIW it takes me 3 hours to download 50 gigs, and 10 minutes to download 2.5 gigs (those numbers are rough - sometimes RAR's are damaged and they h

    • And because of that google fiver really shouldn't be in there given only a handful of people can even get it. It's not surprising their speeds are decent when they have so few customers.
  • by Khyber (864651) <techkitsune@gmail.com> on Tuesday December 11, 2012 @09:12PM (#42256061) Homepage Journal

    These people lie constantly. When I signed up for Charter, I asked if I could run temporary instances of game servers so I could play my favorite games online. They said yes. That's a big lie, they block pretty much every port. I call to talk about this, I get sent to business class support, which ends up saying "We don't block anything over port 8080, so you should be able to run your games just fine."

    Nope. Can't connect or host shit on my PS3, or my computer.

    Then to boot, I'm paying for 100 mbit down. I can NEVER get more than 30mbit down.

    Charter is a business full of false advertising and sheer incompetence. Avoid these fuckers like the plague if you can. As soon as Verizon FIOS is available here, I'm ditching Charter. Fuck those lying sons of bitches.

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Charter was great when I signed up. I even got the 100meg service and it was amazing.. For a while.

      A few months ago the services started taking a dump. I went from 100mbit all the time, all day, to a laggy 300kbps in the evenings. (300kpbs down and 5 megabits up - How fucked up does your network have to be for that to be true?)

      It's not on my end either. I had their techs at my place for eight hours making sure they had they cleanest signal they've ever seen.

      I hear it's pretty much system wide. Their whole n

    • by ducomputergeek (595742) on Tuesday December 11, 2012 @10:31PM (#42256533)

      I had the 100MBs charter business line into my house up until a year ago for work (sold my company so they were no longer paying for it) and went to their standard 30mbs connection. I was never hosting any servers, but was involved on a large software project that transferred several gigs of data each day doing repo pulls and pushes, etc.. What I found wasn't that I was having connection problems on my end, but it was the servers that I was connecting to which seemed to be the bottle neck. I tested this from the main office which had a 100Mbs fiber line and found much the same that the most the remote servers we were using would allow us to pull was about 5MB/s sustained. I used to stream movies/tv from hulu on my iPad while waiting for code to download/upload and sometimes while playing my XBox all at the same time. Bandwidth never seemed to be a problem.

      Even now on the 30Mb/s connection I don't really notice any problems even if other people are over and using their computers/iPads/Phones and whatnot.

      I think the problem with Cable in general is a lot depends on how many users are on your line. I know for a fact that I am one of two houses on this line with cable internet. And the other house on the street is currently unoccupied while being renovated. Everyone else switched to Direct TVa couple years ago and are older and don't use the internet.

      • by Khyber (864651)

        "What I found wasn't that I was having connection problems on my end, but it was the servers that I was connecting to which seemed to be the bottle neck."

        That's not the issue here. Everything seems capped at roughly 30-40 mbit. Torrents, downloads, even YouTube has some 'buffering issues' thanks to Charter. Speedtest.net can't even give me more than a reported 40 mbit and they're supposed to be THE defacto speed testing site on this planet.

        I'm starting to wonder if I can't file a class-action against them l

      • by Dan667 (564390)
        yea, I dumped time warner because of this. Speed was great, except when I and everyone else was home. In the evening, there was all kinds of random drops and slow downs that I can only attribute to the shared line. I got DSL where you have your own dedicated line and it has been fairly solid.
      • by mysidia (191772) on Tuesday December 11, 2012 @11:23PM (#42256813)

        and found much the same that the most the remote servers we were using would allow us to pull was about 5MB/s sustained.

        Did you rule out the possibility that it was just the end-to-end latency, because the server was far away?

        Remember, with the TCP protocol, as end-to-end latency or distance increases: the maximum possible throughput decreases, and the minimum TCP buffer/window size required to achieve the maximum possible speed increases.

        E.g. at 100ms round-trip latency, you have to have a TCP buffer size in excess of 256 Kilobytes, to get a throughput of 20 Megabits/Second; which requires special tuning at both ends of the connection.

        If your TCP buffers are stuck at 64K; the best possible transfer speed at that latency will be 5 Megabits; even if you have 1 Gigabit of throughput to the server, and the server has 1 Gigabit of throughput to you end-to-end.

    • by gravis777 (123605)

      I've had Charter for years. Never had issues.

      The 100mbit is really stupid for most end users to have. The issue isn't with charter, but with who you are connecting to. You are not going to get 100mbit downloads from anywhere. The 100mbit line is really for people who have like 5 kids, and everyone is trying to stream HD Vudu or download torrents or play games at the same time.

      I had 30, and it was overkill for me. I finally reduced it down to 15mbit, and I was more than happy - I was still able to view Netfl

  • by redelm (54142) on Tuesday December 11, 2012 @09:19PM (#42256107) Homepage

    One of my pet peeves as a numerate person not impaired by statisto-phobia is the [ab]use of averages. Sure, the mean contains some information. But the standard deviation contains just as much, if not more! Very seldom do I see anything from which sigma could be inferred, yet whenever you collect data for averages, you can easily calc sigma.

    In this case, network averages are useful only for advertising and not much use at all for consumers, with the possible exception of some large corporations who might reasonably suppose they have enough users spread evenly so they _on_average_ will see the average.

    For individuals, what matters is the service you will see. And that depends with any carrier more on the neighborhood loading and upstream provisioning on that node.

    The only real info you might guess from averages, provided you can make some reasonable assumptions about wirespeed, is what percent of a providers customers are under-provisioned. If cable is commonly 6 Mbps and DSL is 3 and they both net 2, cable is horribly cramped in spite of higher bandwidth.

    • by ArsonSmith (13997) on Tuesday December 11, 2012 @10:08PM (#42256401) Journal

      The reason this is all released is a way for Netflix to fight the chance that their service gets throttled. It's a free market solution to anti-netneutrality legislation. I like it.

      • by symbolset (646467) *

        This is the correct answer. We are about to get broadband competition.

        BTW: all a network provider has to do to put Netflix's datacenter closer to their customer and improve their score is to call up Netflix and get some of these cool cache boxes [backblaze.com] modeled after the BackBlaze box. They're FREE.

        • by mysidia (191772)

          Of course.... these things use electricity, and electricity is not free

          I also wonder, how large does the network provider/datacenter have to be before Netflix will make them available for free? :)

          • by symbolset (646467) *
            They have to have 5Gbps of Netflix traffic. Based on the figures in TFA, maybe a couple thousand Netflix users. They're load balancing, so target is 5Gbps per box - the boxes can do a peak of 8Gbps. Netflix makes them available for free to reduce the cost of networking and improve the customer experience. Network operators take them for the same reason. There is more here [netflix.com], including an install guide and BOM.
    • Sure, the mean contains some information. But the standard deviation contains just as much, if not more! Very seldom do I see anything from which sigma could be inferred, yet whenever you collect data for averages, you can easily calc sigma.

      I can understand and appreciate your frustration; I share it. But let's be honest: The average person doesn't understand sigma, standard deviation, margin of error, or any of those other statistical concepts. They do like "Top 10" lists though and rankings. And for these things, averages are usually the best metric, even if they don't tell the whole story, or even a particularly accurate one.

      The other thing is, most of the ISPs on that list are using some variety of traffic shaping. Internet users don't car

      • by redelm (54142)
        Should ignorance/illiteracy/unnumeracy be encouraged? Sure it exists -- but should it be pandered to?
      • I can understand and appreciate your frustration; I share it. But let's be honest: The average person doesn't understand sigma, standard deviation, margin of error, or any of those other statistical concepts. They do like "Top 10" lists though and rankings. And for these things, averages are usually the best metric, even if they don't tell the whole story, or even a particularly accurate one.

        No, averages aren't the best metric because they don't capture the difference between a wildly bimodal distribution that sometimes frustrates the *!(#*& out of you and one with a slightly slower average that is quite consistent. It's the statistician's job (if she wants to be relevant) to figure out a more meaningful way to measure it and then provide the Top 10 Actually Usable ISP such that the public doesn't need to understand what's under the hood to read the chart and make an informed decision. If s

      • averages are usually the best metric

        Disagree. Medians (the 50th percentile) are usually the best metric. Averages are good when you're interested in how something performs in aggregate (eg, average MPG your car if you want to estimate how much money you'll spend on gas driving cross-country), but you usually want the median when you're interested in a quick snapshot of what your typical person experiences. It's usually a better metric, and it's just as easy to understand on a comparison chart like this.

  • by guspasho (941623) on Tuesday December 11, 2012 @09:23PM (#42256125)

    Each of us only has one, two, or maybe three (if we're lucky) options to choose from, does it really matter if some ISP that doesn't serve my area is faster than the ones available to me?

    • by game kid (805301)

      Exactly. I have two questions for Netflix:

      Has the company...

      1. ...sought any favors from Google, in exchange for having its fiber service included in the list despite its small service area?
      2. ...made any attempt to encourage (with money, etc.) any the listed ISPs to offer their high-speed services in more areas, despite the utter failure of the US gov and other groups to get them to so serve a reasonably large proportion of the country?

      I'd consider Yes answers to 1 and 2 somewhat bad and (if any money changes

    • by alen (225700)

      either way the differences in speed between the top ISP's aren't anything to get excited about

      blu ray quality is around 30mbps. a difference of 2.2 to 2.55 won't be noticed

    • by ArsonSmith (13997)

      This isn't being released for your benifit. It's a way for Netflix to identify and shame companies that throttle their service.

      • Is it the ISPs that rank low that are doing the throttling though? I seem to recall that in Canada there was a bit of a fiasco (and I'm sure it is the same in the US) where the small landline ISPs lease bandwidth from the big provider and the big provider throttles them. So the little guy can offer unlimited internet where the big guy doesn't but as punishment the little guy can't get more than 20Mbps vs 150Mbps for the customers of the big provider (plus traffic shaping to prevent "abuse" by those unlimite

  • Vroom Vroom! (Score:2, Insightful)

    by rueger (210566) *
    OK, I've owned enough fast cars to understand that faster is always better, but in practical terms just how much download speed does anyone really need?

    We're using Shaw Cable in Canada, the budget plan, and thus far it does everything we want, including downloading distros and (surely paid for, not pirated) movies in a reasonable amount of time, and streaming video via our Sony BluRay player.

    Maybe I'm just an old fart that remembers 300 baud, and the amazing jump to 56k, but really folks, what in God'
    • by Sycraft-fu (314770) on Tuesday December 11, 2012 @10:57PM (#42256681)

      I want data to stream just as fat from a remote site as it does from my local drives. That way, where something is stored isn't relevant, it is all the same speed.

      That would take in the realm of 10 gigabit.

      Or maybe fully uncompressed video, that could be nice, particularly for games but in general for having a more simplified receiver. Well that's over a gigbit for 1080p 24fps, 8-bit. Going to 1080p 120fps, 8-bit is near 6 gigabits per second. Gets even worse if you want to go 10/12 bit and/or 4k resolution.

      Something less ambitious? Ok how about just better HD streaming. Blu-rays are generally in the realm of 25mbps for video, often another 10+mbps for audio. I'd like to stream stuff in that quality, it looks noticeably better than the Netflix HD streams.

      Speaking of video streaming I'm hoping to see some better content some day, that'll require more. I'd like a 4k 60p stream. Going to need a lot more bandwidth for that.

      10-20mbps Internet works fine these days for most things, but that doesn't mean I can't come up with a lot of uses for better Internet speeds. Until it matches local speeds (which it isn't ever likely too) there is room for more speed.

    • by cmholm (69081) <cmholm@NOSPaM.mauiholm.org> on Tuesday December 11, 2012 @11:33PM (#42256879) Homepage Journal

      I was one of the first DSL customers in Hawaii. At the time, my non-technical circle didn't see the point. "Always on? 10x faster? 2x as expensive? Whatever for?" Indeed. Based on your (I suspect) tougue-in-cheek comment, I'd note that neither distro d/ls or streaming video would be possible without it.... but we didn't know until we could *could* do it.

      In Australia, they're busy debating whether the proposed National Broadband Network of fibre optics links is "worth it". What would you run over it that we can't run now?

      It hasn't been invented yet.

    • I have a 6 MBit connection, which is good enough for HD video from Netflix.

      The only reason I keep it is because, beyond the odd throttling, I don't have cap. If I have to go capped with a higher speed connection, then I need to have 300GB minimum. Its not so much I download that much, but I don't want to be stressing about going over the limit and be gouged.

      As for the selection with Netflix in Canada, is you aren't really paying for a US or Canadian account. You are simply paying for Netflix and then gettin

    • (awful rich for Netflix to pretend to be looking out for consumers when their own service rips off Canada customers by offering 1/4 the choices at the same price)

      Agreed, but ****WE FINALLY HAVE STAR TREK: THE NEXT GENERATION*** on Netflix Canada!

    • by saider (177166)

      High Definition TV (multiple channels). Think about your TV viewing habits and then translate that over to the Internet ( 1 show needs about 25-40 Mbps ).

  • That Cox and Suddenlink are almost exactly the same is not a surprise. Suddenlink bought most of the midwest network of Cox when they decided to sell their assets.

    • I've been relatively happy with Cox.. the prematurely forwarded my IP block on my commercial line the last time I moved, but other than that, been running great.
  • I live in the shadow of Google but have AT&T DSL and use it to watch Netflix. In the past six months, performance has deteriorated significantly, dropping from an average of 1.35Mbps to 800Kbps and sometimes less. AT&T has tested the link to the CO and found it meets their service level standards.

    I have spoken with other locals who expressed similar problems with Comcast. If you look at the sales of iPads and other tablets, their growth seems to track against this slowdown. Have these new tab
  • more importantly (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward

    how many HD movies can be watched each month on each provider without horrific overage charges?

  • Google Fiber has nothing on Chattanooga's epbFI footprint and speeds... this is the message I sent Ken:

    Hi Ken,

    I saw your latest blog post, and noticed that you included Google Fiber, but not EPBfi. Chattanooga's fiber network is much larger than Google's pilot, and as a customer, I know that I have never received anything less than your highest XL level stream.

    Please extract statistics for epbfi.com and epbfi.net to show our statistics.

    Thanks,

    John

  • Do ISP rankings really matter, given that 98% of USians have exactly *no* choice in broadband providers?
    • Do ISP rankings really matter, given that 98% of USians have exactly *no* choice in broadband providers?

      Do only 2% really have both DSL and cable available to them? If people are stuck on DSL, it may convince the cable companies to invest in their infrastructure. A duopoly in wired broadband is better than a monopoly, and a monopoly is better than being stuck on satellite "fraudband".

      • by neminem (561346)

        No, most people have a "choice" between DSL and Charter, but Charter isn't really a choice, it's more like a joke, except not as a funny.

        I really wish I didn't have to use verizon... it's not like I like verizon, it's just that, Charter, or no internet. :(

        • Charter isn't really a choice, it's more like a joke, except not as a funny.

          Could you elaborate on why Charter Internet is a joke? This review [dslreports.com] (second Google result for [charter internet review]) says "HSI and Phone work great" but "Charter TV SUCKS, SUCKS, SUCKS".

  • I find it pretty interesting that despite all their bragging about their 4G networks and coverage, Sprint and AT&T were beat out by the budget brand T-Mobile. Verizon beat T-Mobile, but not by as much as you'd think...

    Maybe all that "customers using too much data" is actually "we have a shitty network infrastructure and don't want to cut into profits to improve it".

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