Student Provides Evidence that Comcast is Throttling Netflix
There has been a lot of talk on the Interwebs about the possibility that ISPs like Comcast are purposely degrading the bandwidth available to Netflix. While it makes a great story, most reasonable people are understandably skeptical that they would do something like that; sure it helps in the short term, but long term it clearly demonstrates the need for some sort of regulation like net neutrality. So I was surprised to see what appears to be pretty compelling evidence that Comcast is in fact throttling Netflix.
…As a Indiana University student, my school is kind enough to provide every student with VPN access into their network. IU’s network is connected to a regional fiber backbone and provides 100 Mbps access in every dorm on campus. When you connect via VPN, you’re limited in speed by your local Internet connection, as well as the typical issues associated with VPN (increased latency, VPN congestion, etc). I figured I would try watching Netflix over the VPN, though I was skeptical as to if it would really be faster than a direct link from my ISP connection to Netflix’s servers.
The IU VPN is SSL encrypted, which means that the details about all traffic sent over it is hidden from Comcast. When I access Netflix over this VPN connection, all Comcast sees is an encrypted stream of data going through their network. They can estimate how much data is moving, but can’t tell that I’m using Netflix, or streaming video for that matter. Therefore, they don’t throttle it.
I don’t know enough about WAN topology to say that this is definitive proof, but it certainly is very suspicious.