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Verizon Sends A Cease And Desist Letter To Netflix Over Error Messages

The company wants Netflix to back off from calling its internet service slow.

Posted on June 5, 2014, at 3:02 p.m. ET

The Associated Press

Verizon issued a cease and desist letter to Netflix today after the video streaming company was showing its customers warnings that Verizon's internet speeds were slow and hampering video streaming.

Despite having a deal with Verizon similar to its agreement with Comcast that ensures Netflix's video streams are delivered quickly to Comcast and Verizon customers, Netflix has been publicly complaining that the speeds aren't up to snuff. The company began showing error messages for customers that had slower streams, which was first spotted by Yuri Victor over at Vox.

Verizon fired back at the error messages, saying Netflix was slowing streams while it implemented the technology to ensure that Netflix viewers were streaming video at reasonable speeds.

Verizon's letter is just the latest incident in a much broader discussion over the legality and legitimacy of internet "fast lanes." Comcast CEO Brian Roberts, like other providers, argues that fast lanes would allow Comcast to off-load costs to heavy bandwidth users. However, a ruling by an organization like the FCC could effectively "kill" net neutrality and hamstring younger, less-financed companies that are trying to compete with established services that have lots of capital — like the Facebooks and Netflixes of the world.

As such, Netflix CEO Reed Hastings has used basically everything in his arsenal to try and turn the tide in the discussion, including airing his grievances on stage at the Code technology conference last month — where Roberts also spoke.

Here's the letter, originally obtained by Recode: