Why are Netflix streaming video speeds slowing down?
CSMonitor.com reports that Netflix’s streaming video speeds have slowed significantly over the past six months. The steady decline is not Netflix’s fault, but it is Netflix’s problem. If speeds dip too low, TV shows and movies sent over the online service will stutter, look pixilated, or not play at all.
Netflix chief executive officer Reed Hastings has battled in boardrooms, appealed to the public, and even struck what he considers to be a Faustian bargain in search of a solution. The company’s quest for a cure helps explain how the Internet works behind the scenes, and sheds light on the often murky topic of net neutrality.
From September to March, the average speed at which Netflix video arrived at customers’ homes declined across many of America’s largest Internet providers. People who subscribe to Verizon DSL, for example, saw speeds drop by 42 percent, according to Netflix, whose online “speed index” tracks video download rates for more than 60 US providers.
Why would download speeds drop off by almost half in just six months? With more people streaming video online – whether it is through Netflix, YouTube, Hulu, or any number of other services – the plumbing that services the Internet has become increasingly congested. Now, a battle has broken out over how to address these metaphorical clogged pipes.