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.

Matt Vukas

I don’t know enough about WAN topology to say that this is definitive proof, but it certainly is very suspicious.


  • This is exactly why I’ve

    This is exactly why I’ve avoided streaming services.  When you consider that Comcast and most other internet providers offer their own type of Video On Demand I fully expected them to do something to make your life miserable when using a competitor’s service, like limiting bandwidth or putting a data cap on how much you can download.  I do like the idea of using a VPN to keep whatever you’re doing anonymous to the ISP.  If you’re paying for their internet service it shouldn’t matter to them what it is you’re downloading.  This article just shows the reality of the situation.  I dumped Comcast for Verizon FIOS over six years ago and couldn’t be happier.

    • I dumped Comcast for Verizon

      I dumped Comcast for Verizon FIOS over six years ago and couldn’t be happier

      I”m sure there’s many people who would love to be happier by switching to FIOS.   As Verizon is no longer expanding FIOS, that doesn’t look to be an option for most of them.  And sometime in the future, what’s to stop Verizon from deciding they don’t like you using Netflix and slowing it down.  I’m sure they’re not too scared of you switching back to Comcast.

      • Well, they have nothing to be

        Well, they have nothing to be scared of in any case.  I’m not switching and I don’t use NetFlix or any other streaming service.  I don’t use Verizon’s PPV or VOD either.

  • I have Verizon FIOS and have

    I have Verizon FIOS and have noticed NetFlix issues recently.
    Slow to load and lower resolution on my ROKU boxes.
    It’s even slow on my W7 Media Center.
    I’m sure it’s directly related to Net Nutrality being crushed.

  • In case anyone’s interested,

    In case anyone’s interested, Private Internet Access is offering their VPN service for only $31.95/year or $5.45 monthly.  If you get the yearly deal it automatically renews at the special rate.  Here’s a link to the thread discussing it over at slickdeals with links to the offer:

  • Verizon seeks payment for

    Verizon seeks payment for carrying Netflix traffic, WSJ reports.

    According to a Wall Street Journal report tonight,
    The online-video service has been at odds with Verizon Communications Inc.
    and other broadband providers for months over how much Netflix streaming content
    they will carry without being paid additional fees.

    Now the long simmering conflict has heated up and is slowing Netflix,
    in particular, on Verizon’s fiber-optic FiOS service, where Netflix says
    its average prime-time speeds dropped by 14 percent last month.