Verizon Falsely Promising Better Quality Netflix Streaming With Faster, More Expensive Internet Tier

Last week I contacted Verizon to discuss the renewal of my two-year FiOS Triple Play contract which already gives me 50Mbps up/down. Three different sales reps via the phone and one via an online chat all tried to convince me to upgrade to 75Mbps, with the false promise that it would give me better quality Netflix streaming, amongst other OTT streaming services. I was told that with 75Mbps I would get “smoother video viewing” and “better quality” with a higher tier service. Of course, this claim by Verizon is 100% false and they know it.

Screen Shot 2015-04-24 at 4.41.51 PMFor the average consumer who doesn’t know any better, or isn’t technical, they could be paying for something they don’t need and can’t use. If they were going from DSL to FiOS, or from 5Mbps to 50Mbps, Verizon would be accurate in their quality claim. But when the average Netflix bitrate delivered via Verizon last month was 3.5Mbps, going from 50Mbps to 75Mbps has no impact on quality. When I made this point clear to the Verizon sales reps, their counter argument was that with multiple people in the household, the higher tiered service would be needed. Again, that’s not true.

During HBO’s Game Of Thrones Season 5 premiere, I had ten separate streams going on at the same time via HBO Now and Sling TV and I posted a photo to Twitter showing multiple streams in action. All combined, I consumed just under 29Mbps of my 50Mbps connection and all ten streams had perfect quality. HBO Now’s bitrate maxes out at 4Mbps and some of the streams I had going were to mobile devices. Amongst the ten streams, they averaged 2.9Mbps per second. So even if I had a household of ten people, all streaming at the same time, going from 50Mbps to 75Mbps would not have given me any better video streaming quality over what I already have. Verizon is simply using the average consumers lack of knowledge of bitrates and streaming technology to scare them into thinking they need a higher tiered package than they really do.

While some might want to chalk this us to an isolated incident, or an over zealous sales rep, that’s not the case at all. I called in three times and spoke to three different reps, plus one online and got the same pitch. Clearly this sales tactic is being driven by those higher up in the company and isn’t something a sales rep made up on their own. And two years ago, Verizon tried to pitch me the exact same story, promising better quality Netflix streaming if I upgraded my Internet package.

This tactic by Verizon needs to stop and stop now. Before anyone trres to bring the topic of Net Neutrality into the debate, this has nothing to do with it. It’s simply a bad sales practice that’s disingenuous, plays on consumers desire to want better quality video streaming and is only being done to improve Verizon’s bottom line. The average customer gets no improved service in return and false expectations are being set, which is bad for the streaming media industry and over-the-top content providers, not to mention consumers. Verizon needs to re-educate their sales force and do away with this sales tactic immediately.

  • FedUp

    Time to cancel service… EVERY time I contact Verizon FiOS, I only get NON-Tech support: “Let me change the channel on your internet…” ugh!

    • Ant

      Every company is like this. 🙁

      • CentralLove

        Not every, I work for a small local ISP and we as a sales force make it a point to fully disclose information. I don’t lie to my customers, that’s bad business. Especially for a company who doesn’t have millions of customers. In terms of explaining of bandwidth and speed to customers, I’m honest and choose to use my educational background in IT and Computer Science to set the “record straight.” My customers appreciate my honesty and that’s what sells us.

  • anon_coward

    classic upselling. almost every single company around the USA does it in some form

    you don’t really think those station wagons with big wheels that cost $35,000 cost much more to make than the sedan version of the car? but put a SUV label on it and people pay up

  • Mr Mango

    One word Apple and people will pay.

  • Bottom Line

    “Of course, this claim by Verizon is 100% false and they know it.”

    For the front line folks, I don’t think most of them know enough to help you. The contributing factors to this:
    1) They have limited knowledge on basic networking.
    2) They have little to no visibility to network congestion problems. Either, they don’t have permissions, they don’t know how/where to look, etc.
    3) They are trained to either sell you something or roll a truck to your home, even if the issue is upstream from your home.

    Typically, if one gets a lead or supervisor, you get something closer to a conversation in reality. If I get any flak from noobs, I just ask for next level of support. I’d rather wait on hold to talk to someone who knows what they are doing, then waste time explaining out an issue to someone who doesn’t understand it in the first place, and is tone deaf when you take the time.

    • Sqince

      I work for one of the four major wireless carriers as a customer care agent. I can tell you with 100% certainty that anyone you speak to on the phone doesn’t have the knowledge or system tools they see these issues in the terms you are speaking. If you escalate to a supervisor or get transferred to “tier 2” support, you are only going to get someone who has marginally better tools, or is just better at talking on the phone to customers. The people who have access to the tools that you are referring to are not in departments that you can speak to on the phone. I can’t say this is the case for Verizon’s FIOS call centers, but I have a feeling it’s pretty similar.

      • Bottom Line

        “The people who have access to the tools that you are referring to are not in departments that you can speak to on the phone.”

        Speaking from past experience (Time Warner Cable) we (Residential Technical Support) had access to fairly granular signal access tools. It was Google Maps-like, in that it had little house icons that one may click to see if the signals are in the expected range. As well, I could zoom out to the neighborhood, node, city, region, etc. But, I had to know about that tool, and then know what the heck all the information meant. However, it couldn’t pin point with 100% accuracy the cause of the signal issue.

        For example, if an entire neighborhood had poor signal, but the next street down didn’t, is that because some drunk plowed a telephone poll (above ground cables are great) or over-utilization (i.e. not having enough customer capacity)?

        Unfortunately, the agent metrics was so statistically engineered against agents, one was penalized for taking time to look for root cause issues (average call handling time). Even if you know the issue is over-utilization, one was forced to roll a truck. You take a hit on your truck roll metric, even if the truck roll was canceled by dispatch due to not being a local issue.

        Oh, and you took back-to-back calls, so don’t even think you are going to follow up on any issue, as there are too many people in the queue, and you are penalized even more if you aren’t on a call (call avoidance).

        Bottom line, if I happened to take Dan Rayburn’s call, even after reading this article, I would essentially be forced to apologize profusely, not be stupid enough to try upsell him, and begrudgingly roll a truck (taking a hit on my stats unnecessarily), as that is only thing I have the power to do.

        “Thank you for calling Time Warner Cable, where the right hand doesn’t talk to the left, this is Bottom Line, how may I help you?”

        • conflict

          What was that tool called?

  • FCC Marketing

    Dan, Don’t you know that you actually need a gigabit to stream Netflix? The US is so far behind and without a gigabit we will become a third world country.

  • PP Mguire

    Considering they can’t charge Netflix anymore for a fast stream, what else do you think they’ll do? Unless you’re being called a bitch by Comcast I don’t think this’ll reach far enough to do anything.

  • PP Mguire

    Considering they can’t charge Netflix anymore for a fast stream, what else do you think they’ll do? Unless you’re being called a bitch by Comcast I don’t think this’ll reach far enough to do anything.

  • PP Mguire

    Considering they can’t charge Netflix anymore for a fast stream, what else do you think they’ll do? Unless you’re being called a bitch by Comcast I don’t think this’ll reach far enough to do anything.

  • LackThereof

    With some ISP’s, this might be the case. I’m on Centurylink and have hopped between their bandwidth tiers a few times, experimenting with their performance.
    At least on Centurylink, In times of network congestion, lower-bandwidth customers get shunted into a lower priority QOS tier and are unable to max out their connections, while customers on the higher bandwidth service are prioritized and experience no peak-time slowdown at all.

    If Verizon is doing the same thing, their service rep might not have been lying.

    In addition, on Centurylink the lower bandwidth services are more aggressively shaped. On the mid-level service tiers, packets start being artificially delayed around 75% utilization. At 80% utilization ping rises to 1000ms; by 99% utilization it reaches a full 10 seconds. On the top-tier service, though, it happily maintains a 150ms ping at 99% utilization.



    • MyOpinionIsMyOwn

      nobody reads your comments in all caps.

  • el_calvo

    I was an employee of Verizon that showed the people in corporate this a while back, because their concerns at the time was “how can they improve or make customers promote friends and family to Verizon?”
    I basically explained to them what were the main reasons marriages don’t last, no answer from them. When improve my point , the next 2 months were hell. I got the stink eye from management and eventually got laid off.
    Verizon relies on the fact they have the best service and that is the only thing they care about. When they encounter someone that finds out that they have been lied to and they require answers, most of the time they go back to the signature in the contract and thats it, now your stuck with whatever lie they told you and then hope you stay.
    The same goes for home services, when people start paying attention to their bills and not have them on auto pay to see that you r not paying for anything extra, like the so called free tablet , that u r paying with service. And confront them about it, they will not listen.

  • Truth

    This is from the article published in Summer 2013… “OTT Video coming to a paid channel near you”…. whose executive summary was written by Dan explaining the need for higher bandwidth for higher quality…. It quotes….

    “A majority of executives, 59%, say bandwidth limitations are currently the leading technical obstacle to OTT adoption. Quality of service and quality of experience—which may also be related to bandwidth issues—is also seen as an obstacle by 55%. “OTT services need to be able to consistently provide content that is high quality, doesn’t cut out, break up, or freeze,” says one respondent. “Consumers want to be able to watch content without these distractions that can ruin the entertainment experience.”
    To a large degree, this may tie in with bandwidth capabilities as far as achieving video quality, but also extends to the quality of the viewer’s experience as well. Quality of experience (or quality of mobility) also addresses the personalization, brand and user interface experiences of the video delivery, in tune with consumer preferences by the devices they use. “

    • danrayburn

      Of course you need higher bandwidth to consume higher bitrate video streaming, BUT there is a limit as to how much you need.

      Quality issues “may” in fact tie into “bandwidth capabilities”, but not when as the example I used, I am on a 50Mbps connection. Going to 75Mbps will not improve my video quality or user experience in any way.

  • Netflix has a test video which displays your streaming speed and the video quality/resolution it is streaming on said speed.

    I do not know how you find it in Netflix but I have it in My List on Netflix. When playing it in a browser, this is the URL:,7,d5629621-d1a0-48f4-aa59-bc63cc1b895a-32638203

    I’m not sure if this will work for others however you might try logging into Netflix and then clicking the above link. It should then play in your web browser.

    The test clearly shows that the Netflix 720 HD stream is at 3Mbps.

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