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Image credit: Mike Blake / Reuters

Mobile customers claim Verizon capped Netflix and YouTube speeds

The telecom admitted it ran "optimization tests" that capped speeds, but that they were temporary.
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Mike Blake / Reuters

A week after millions of Americans contacted the FCC to preserve net neutrality, Verizon Wireless customers have reported lower speeds than expected when using Netflix. Some users in a Reddit thread noted their connections were capped at 10Mbps, as well as those who checked using Netflix's speed-testing tool Fast.com. Verizon mobile customers have also reported reduced speeds on YouTube resulting in lower-quality video; In response, the telecom admitted it has been temporarily testing a new video optimization system, which it claims shouldn't affect viewing quality.

"We've been doing network testing over the past few days to optimize the performance of video applications on our network," a Verizon spokesperson told Ars Technica. "The testing should be completed shortly. The customer video experience was not affected."

But Verizon mobile customers on Howard Forums reported similar problems on YouTube, with some seeing their connections cap around the 10Mbps mark, Ars pointed out. Some users speeds' tripled when they used a VPN to get around the alleged Verizon cap. Netflix claimed that the problems weren't on its end.

"We don't cap data and don't cap for any mobile network. We offer settings inside the Netflix app to empower our members to control their own quality preferences and data usage," a Netflix spokesperson told Engadget.

While multiple users corroborating low-quality service is something to pay attention to, anecdotes don't represent a necessarily concrete problem. Plenty of variables affect mobile speed. But if the apparent caps linger past Verizon's optimization trials and exceed a reasonable window for "testing," it could flaunt Title II protections that, for now, ensure net neutrality. Engadget reached out to Verizon and will update when we hear back; In the meantime, The Verge got a response from the telecom, which confirmed that some users were experiencing a cap but that it shouldn't affect their video access.

"The consumer video experience should have been unaffected by the test," the representative wrote to The Verge, "since 1080p video is HD quality and looks great at 10 [Mpbs]."

Verizon owns Engadget's parent company, Oath (formerly AOL). Rest assured, Verizon has no control over our coverage. Engadget remains editorially independent.

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