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Spectrum allegedly throttled content providers Netflix and Riot Games for money

By Cal Jeffrey · 26 replies
Jul 31, 2018
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  1. A couple of days ago we reported on how the New York State Public Service Commission kicked Charter owned cable provider Spectrum out of the state. The company allegedly failed to deliver on several promises related to its merger with Time-Warner Cable (TWC). In a bizarre twist to the story, it seems it was more than unfulfilled commitments that got Spectrum in trouble.

    In its “official act,” the commission stated one of the reasons for its revocation of the merger was “the company's purposeful obfuscation of its performance and compliance obligations to the Commission and its customers.”

    According to GamesIndustry.biz, this accusation refers to a 2017 lawsuit filed against Spectrum by New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman. The complaint is a laundry list of allegations ranging from leasing customers “deficient equipment” to misleading subscribers regarding internet speeds.

    “Revisiting earlier arrangements, in which Spectrum-TWC often exchanged data with backbone and content providers for free, Spectrum-TWC now sought to make those providers pay Spectrum-TWC for access to its subscribers. A senior Spectrum-TWC executive explained in an email a short time later that, as consumer demand for content exploded, the company wanted to take the opportunity to extract additional revenues from content providers.”

    Spectrum did this by deliberately limiting port capacities to content providers unless they paid for the connections. In layman’s terms, it was engaged in a form of extortion.

    One of the companies named in the suit was Netflix, which refused to pay the fees. It even offered to freely install its own equipment on Spectrum’s "last mile" to improve subscribers’ content delivery. Spectrum insisted on payment instead. The squabble continued between 2012 and 2014, during which time Spectrum never informed customers why their access to Netflix was subpar.

    Riot Games, makers of League of Legends was also listed as a victim to the throttling. In this instance, the company agreed to the payment demands but still did not receive adequate service.

    Specifications for the game require a stable latency of less than 60ms with less than two percent packet loss.

    “Latency above 100 milliseconds affected performance in key parts of the game, creating lag time that put Spectrum-TWC subscribers at a disadvantage to their gaming competitors on other ISP networks,” states the lawsuit. “Similarly, packet loss of more than two percent resulted in interruptions, buffering, and other performance issues.”

    Riot agreed to pay Spectrum in August 2015 in hopes of lowering latency. The company, which started tracking its data in 2013, provided proof that Spectrum’s latency was well above 100ms (graph above). Furthermore, even after paying the cable provider to connect ports, latency only lowered to about 90ms — nowhere close to the 60ms threshold. Packet loss also remained well above two percent during the same period.

    This lawsuit has not been decided yet, but it does not change the commission’s decision to boot Spectrum out of New York. The company has 60 days to pack its bags, which includes coming up with a plan “to ensure an orderly transition to a successor provider(s).” If the switch does not go smoothly, the commission will consider taking other actions including bringing the matter in front of the supreme court.

    Permalink to story.

  2. Uncle Al

    Uncle Al TS Evangelist Posts: 4,859   +3,307

    And here they advertise that they will NEVER limit speeds ..... what a joke!
    SirChocula and Evernessince like this.
  3. Axiarus

    Axiarus TS Evangelist Posts: 386   +216

    I used to see Netflix and YouTube slowdown until I hopped on a VPN and my ISP stopped being able to see what the hell I was doing.
    Reachable, SirChocula and SantistaUSA like this.
  4. treetops

    treetops TS Evangelist Posts: 2,346   +400

    Century Link?
  5. wiyosaya

    wiyosaya TS Evangelist Posts: 3,419   +1,819

    Talk about double-dipping.

    And talk about no problems before Net Neutrality. 2012 - 2014 was before NN which stared in 2015. So the anti-NN crowd just lost its no problems before NN argument.

    TWC/Spectrump are scum. No ands, ifs, or buts about it.

    I hope they find a better ISP in NY.
    Reachable, RaXoR and Evernessince like this.
  6. wiyosaya

    wiyosaya TS Evangelist Posts: 3,419   +1,819

    In a way, though, that is the same thing in reverse - assuming that you pay extra for the VPN.
  7. TomSEA

    TomSEA TechSpot Chancellor Posts: 3,034   +1,439

    You haven't been paying attention if you think this is all about net neutrality. Plenty of major ISP's were busted for throttling before NN was removed.
    Uncle Al and Adorerai like this.
  8. Axiarus

    Axiarus TS Evangelist Posts: 386   +216

    $35/year yes. However, that money is not going to the ISP.
    lumbeeman and SirChocula like this.
  9. Axiarus

    Axiarus TS Evangelist Posts: 386   +216

    Uncle Al likes this.
  10. Evernessince

    Evernessince TS Evangelist Posts: 3,512   +2,812

    They also advertised that they were expanding their network in NY and without taxpayer money. Now they are being kicked out for not expanding their network with taxpayer money. All charter buying TW did was make a big monopoly bigger.

    Can you provide a link that shows that ISPs were throttling during the period NN was active?
    lumbeeman likes this.
  11. Johndoedoedoe

    Johndoedoedoe TS Enthusiast Posts: 28   +22

    Annnd this is exactly why I didn't feel bad for that Indian dudes death threats. *Kanye shrug*
  12. ForgottenLegion

    ForgottenLegion TS Guru Posts: 343   +346

    Poor murcia, going further and further down the pan day by day.
  13. gamerk2

    gamerk2 TS Addict Posts: 184   +117

    Comcast had a similar dispute with Level 5 (Netflix's backbone operator) around 2012-2013 or so. That dispute was one of the driving forces behind the Obama FCC pushing for NN in the first place.
    Evernessince and wiyosaya like this.
  14. gamerk2

    gamerk2 TS Addict Posts: 184   +117

    NY proper (NYC) has both Optimum (Cablevison) and FIOS covering most of the footprint TWC/Spectrum operates in. Most of Long Island is also covered by these two options, though TWC/Spectrum didn't have as large a footprint out there. Upstate is mostly limited to Comcast as far as I'm aware.

    Optimum is pretty damn good as far as ISP's go; base service is up to 15Mbps, and their higher tiers only cost like $5 extra per tier (I'm on their 75Mbps tier). All with no throttling/bandwidth limitations.
  15. Cal Jeffrey

    Cal Jeffrey TS Evangelist Topic Starter Posts: 1,525   +363

    The fact that there is a lawsuit that still hasn't been settled for violations that occurred before the 2015 NN rules AND that fact that it wasn't turned over to the FCC before during or after the NN rules says a lot.
    wiyosaya and Reachable like this.
  16. GregonMaui

    GregonMaui TS Enthusiast Posts: 89   +25

    Spectrum has really bad delivery of product, no wonder they want to throttle others. They recently converted to "all Digital" and give us "1080". Bandwidth is lo low, it does not look like 1080 and has a lot of digital artifacts on screen. Netflix, on the other hand has a beautiful 1080 picture, when it is not throttled. also, we have to have old-fashion cable boxes, even though we own smart TVs. These boxes are hot all the time, indicating they waste a lot of energy, are ugly, require a separate remote. Way to be stuck in the wrong century.

    Hey Spectrum, ever hear of 4K? hahahahaha never happen on "all digital package".

    I heard cable is about 6gbps into the home, any company that has that much entry and can't deliver what customers want, does not deserve to continue to do business. If my cable didn't come with the HOA fees for condo. snip snip bye-bye.
    wiyosaya likes this.
  17. wiyosaya

    wiyosaya TS Evangelist Posts: 3,419   +1,819

    Sorry, but I think you are not paying attention. This is what happens WITHOUT NN.
  18. wiyosaya

    wiyosaya TS Evangelist Posts: 3,419   +1,819

    Being a US citizen, I have to agree with you. Whether US citizens like it or not, if there were a study done of the characteristics of the decline of an empire, I think what the US is experiencing now would fit those characteristics very well.
  19. wiyosaya

    wiyosaya TS Evangelist Posts: 3,419   +1,819

    It depends on what you call upstate. I suspect that NYC is one of the few areas in the state where there are multiple ISPs covering the same region. Frontier DSL is around, too, but with a switch 30,000ft from my location, speed is abysmal - so that is not really an option for "broadband." That leaves Spectrum and spotty coverage from a fiber provider - Greenlight.
  20. wiyosaya

    wiyosaya TS Evangelist Posts: 3,419   +1,819

    I agree that the money is not going to the ISP, but the ISPs policy requires such measures to get proper speed from providers like Netflix. There is no reason that anyone should have to take these measures to get these and similar services. I do get the privacy/security issue, however, I see that as a different matter.
    Reachable likes this.
  21. Evernessince

    Evernessince TS Evangelist Posts: 3,512   +2,812

    That's what I thought as well but there seem to be people that believe, even here on techspot, that throttling occurred when NN was in place and that NN was put in place with no evidence of throttling (those are opposites but people who oppose NN make those kind of hyperbolic statements). The problem with those arguments is that NN was only put in place after 3 public examples of foul play by ISPs and that I've yet to see a shred of evidence that NN didn't make things better. Heck, just for me personally since the NN repeal my bill has gotten less transparent, the service worse, and I seem to get weekly disruptions in my YouTube and Twitch videos.
    wiyosaya and Reachable like this.
  22. Reachable

    Reachable TS Evangelist Posts: 357   +172

    I hope you enjoyed reading this article as much as I did. It's good to know that a rogue company can still be brought to justice.

    Incidentally, the National Wildlife Federation just announced that Ajit Pai will be receiving its Weasel Of The Year award.

    No, actually I made that up.
    Last edited: Aug 1, 2018
    wiyosaya likes this.
  23. Gezzer

    Gezzer TS Member

    It also pretty much proves that they were throttling the connection, which is more important IMHO.
    wiyosaya likes this.
  24. Steph17

    Steph17 TS Rookie

    This company is a joke
    Thursday I paid for Internet service they sent equipment in the mail I set up and call was not working told me its cause old roomate had service he moved out they won't refound my money told me that there putting it on his bill pretty much said use his sevices aint that fraud then a supervisor told me to bring proof to the local spectrum store of my lease and I did lady told me that wasnt my lease and the names where not on there and clearly everything was this company is a joke theifs who can I call nd report them to
  25. Axiarus

    Axiarus TS Evangelist Posts: 386   +216

    "This company is a joke! Thursday I paid for internet service and they sent the equipment in the mail. I set it up and had to call them because it was not working. They told me that since my previous room mate had service to use that and they would put my money towards his bill. Isn't that fraud? One of their supervisors told me to bring proof of my lease to the Spectrum store. Well, I did that and they told me it wasn't my lease because my name was not on it. Clearly everything with this company is a joke. They are thieves! Who can I call to report them?"

    I tried :confused:

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