Verizon throttling confession raises net-neutrality questions

It's been an interesting 48 hours for Verizon customers. Two days ago, some users discovered that Verizon may have been throttling their connections to video services like Netflix and YouTube. What's particularly strange is that under normal circumstances, average users wouldn't even realize they were being throttled.

It all started a couple of days ago in a thread posted to the Verizon subreddit. One user, iBen95111, discovered that while streaming Netflix over Verizon's LTE network, his download speeds were limited to around 10 Mbps. He discovered this by testing his download speeds on, which is powered by Netflix servers.

Now, limiting download speeds to 10 Mbps isn't a huge deal in the grand scheme of things. That's still fast enough to stream 1080p video, but too slow for streaming in 4K. Most mobile users probably aren't attempting to stream through Netflix in 4K, though, so many Verizon customers probably never realized that their download speeds were being manipulated.

It's also worth pointing out that Verizon's competitors, T-Mobile and AT&T, limit video streaming on their unlimited plans to 480p unless you pay an extra monthly fee to stream in HD. Verizon doesn't charge any extra fee, and it's said from the beginning that unlimited users are free to stream video in HD. While it's still true that Verizon is allowing users to stream in HD with speeds that are capped at 10 Mbps, the fact remains that there's something going on in regards to Verizon's LTE speeds while customers are streaming video.

Here's where things get especially weird, however: in a statement to Ars Technica, Verizon has seemingly admitted to that throttling. "We've been doing network testing over the past few days to optimize the performance of video applications on our network," a Verizon representative said. "The testing should be completed shortly. The customer video experience was not affected."

I'm guessing I probably don't need to explain why this is strange, but I'll do it anyway. It's hard to imagine a scenario where Verizon would need to throttle video connections in order to optimize them. Something certainly smells fishy here, almost as if Verizon got caught capping download speeds for video apps, and then decided to play it off as optimization testing before (presumably) removing those caps.

Of course, if Verizon were throttling connection speeds to individual services like Netflix and YouTube, it would be in violation of Title II regulations, which state that all internet traffic has to be treated equally by carriers. We can't imagine Verizon actually admitting to throttling Netflix and YouTube specifically, but now that this has been discovered, hopefully it isn't long before those limits are removed.

Regardless of what Verizon actually has going on behind the scenes, this discovery and Verizon's subsequent statement on the matter have certainly made for a very strange story. We'll see what happens from here, so stay tuned.