Net neutrality is being undermined by big American internet providers. Here is how we can help.
To our American friends, have we got news for you! Are you a consumer of streaming videos online, but your videos seems to buffer forever? In that case try to use a VPN, just like ours. If you are by any chance a client of Verizon or Comcast and also happen to use Netflix, then you’ll be sad to learn that these network providers seem to be interfering with your hi-speed connection the moment you are trying to use it for watching hi-res videos. Since the beginning of the year this trend has been obvious. It manifested itself in the statistics that Netflix is publishing every month. Netflix's speed rankings show that video streaming performance on Verizon and Comcast has been dropping for the past eight months.
In the middle of last February, Ars Technica reported that users of Netflix have started to use VPNs as a way to bypass the slowdowns imposed on them:
- We’ve heard from several readers who say they've eliminated video problems by using VPN services. "Netflix on Comcast tanked for us in the past month or two," one commenter wrote. "We would spend more time buffering than actually watching video. Once we set up a VPN it magically went away."
- Another reader sent us bandwidth statistics from his home that compared traffic on Comcast to traffic over a VPN, saying the poor Comcast performance proves that "they throttle Netflix heavily." Similar accusations have been leveled against Verizon.
A proof of work
That was in February, but accusations against Verizon have since then continued to grow. A few days ago they were illustrated in a video that showed how a VPN connection solves speed issues.
The video was made by Colin Nederkoorn, co-founder and CEO of Customer.io. “I wasn’t sure how to test my Netflix speed”, writes Nederkoorn in his blog. “After a bit of googling I found an article by Wired on how to test your Netflix streaming speed. I followed their steps and I was shocked. The video on netflix actually shows you how fast it is streaming to you which is helpful for diagnostics. Keep in mind, I pay Verizon for 75 mbps down, 35 mbps up on my Fios connection”.
“This Netflix video streams at 375 kbps (or 0.375 mbps – 0.5% of the speed I pay for) at the fastest. I was shocked. Then I decided to try connecting to a VPN service to compare. 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 location (via VPN) first where Verizon will have good performance and there will be no congestion between location 2 and Netflix”.
Was it successful?
“I connect to a VPN and I quickly get up to full speed at 3000 kbps (the max on Netflix), about 10x the speed I was getting connecting directly via Verizon. It seems absurd to me that adding another hop via a VPN actually improves streaming speed. Clearly it’s not Netflix that doesn’t have the capacity. It seems that Verizon are deliberately dragging their feet and failing to provide service that people have paid for”.
Since the video was published, in a matter of a week it was viewed half a million times. What it proves is that internet providers are de facto moving away from the Net Neutrality model. It signals a scary future in which the people with means will have access to hi-speeds while the rest of the dying middle class will only have access to turtle speed internet. This not only threatens the internet as a whole, but also the right for free expression, privacy and free access to information.
We would love to hear from our American users how ZenMate has helped them by pass this draconian new net discrimination. Tell us in the comments!