Speed issues with Netflix streaming

Mentor

Speed issues with Netflix streaming

To start off I'm a knowledgeable Linux Systems Engineer with over 20 years experience in Internet related technologies so I've done my fair share of troubleshooting on this topic.  We also live in the city limits of St. Louis and are told that our area has completed it's Uverse network upgrades.

 

Since we switched to Uverse we have consistent issues streaming Netflix.  The initial 10-15 seconds of any video plays great, but then the picture quality severely degrades, sometimes enough that you cannot read text within the video because it is so pixelated.  I was warned before switching by other users in our area that there is a severe over subscription issue with Uverse Internet.  The more I look at this the more I am inclined to agree, but wanted to get community feedback.

 

We experience the issues the worst during peak times (4pm-midnight) but also at 4am we cannot stream movie in full HD without degradation of the picture due to throughput issues.  This alone leads me to believe my area is oversubscribed on Internet and there simply is not enough bandwidth upstream to handle the streaming appropriately.

 

We've done the following to troubleshoot:

Moved all wireless devices to wired.

Restarted router/modem (too many times to count).

Had our lines checked by a tech.

Run speed tests during - these tests are inconclusive because we have the 24Mbps package and even during trouble times we sometimes get speeds up to 18Mbps which is more than sufficient for Netflix HD streaming (you only need 5Mbps sustained).

 

Multiple devices are affected including the Apple TV that never once had an issue in its 5 years of service while using Charter cable services.  To re-iterate, never once, have we experienced what we are experiencing now with Charter cable services, but it consistently happens every day with AT&T.

 

Calls to AT&T have gone no where.  Techs say everything is fine, one even went as far as to tell me this is a common problem and he sees a lot of people cancel Internet services and go back to Charter for them.  I priced it out and we can get just Internet through Charter at 30Mbps (guaranteed steady throughput, not UP TO like AT&T) for $54.99/month without having to have cable TV through them.  That is considerably cheaper than I'm paying for 24Mbps Internet through Uverse.

 

All of that said is there anyone who can actually help me fix this problem?  I'd much prefer not to give another penny to Charter, but if this is the quality of Internet service we can expect from AT&T there is no way I am going to continue paying them for substandard service at a higher rate than the cable company.

 

Am I doomed with Uverse or is there hope?

Message 1 of 61 (27,714 Views)
Mentor

Re: Speed issues with Netflix streaming

[ Edited ]

JefferMC wrote:

The fact that using a VPN fixes your issue demonstrates that the AT&T network has plenty of capacity to move the content into your home, so long as it doesn't come directly from the video provider's CDN where there's just too much traffic coming through a choke point in the network.

 


Right... and you don't see this as an issue?  Since the AT&T network has the capacity it is obvious that they are restricting me based on what I am requesting.  I see this as AT&T restricting what I'm capable of doing on the Internet connection I'm paying for, which quite frankly is unacceptable.

 

I'm in St. Louis - as another poster said - almost all streaming services are garbage.  I never received any response via PM after asking for updates.  They said a tech would come out to change the equipment out, but that never happened, and when I call customer service they have no record.  This has been more than frustrating.  I threatened to go back to Charter over a month ago, and didn't, and I'm glad I waited because now I'll get 45Mbps from Charter instead of 30 for the same price.

Message 31 of 61 (4,289 Views)
ACE - Expert

Re: Speed issues with Netflix streaming


jesserehmer wrote:
Right... and you don't see this as an issue?  I see this as AT&T restricting what I'm capable of doing on the Internet connection I'm paying for.

... 

 


It could be AT&T shaping the traffic.  Or it could be traffic in excess of AT&T's peering capacity where Netflix's CDN sends traffic to you.  Either way you see the same result.

 

However, for the former to be true, AT&T would have to deliberately affecting large amounts of traffic to large number of customers, knowing that these customers will be dissatisfied and could blame them and change providers.


For the second to be true, AT&T would be conducting business as usual and trying to make their customers happy while having portions of their network connections overloaded by a third party with whom they have no financial connections.

 

Which seems more likely to you?

 

If it helps you decide, notice that all major ISPs have some customers complaining about these sorts of problems (and most also have customers without any issues), so now you have to accept that these major ISPs are all colluding to cause these issues deliberately.

 

Also, note that some see relief simply by changing their DNS settings, which gets them different CDN servers and a new path for basically the same traffic.  This demonstrates that AT&T doesn't seem to discrimate on the traffic itself, but that the route it takes to enter the network is causing the issue for these customers.  Which scenario does this fit?

 

Basically, I tend to accept the simplest explanation that fits the symptoms until I can prove it doesn't.

 

*The views and opinions expressed on this forum are purely my own. Any product claim, statistic, quote, or other representation about a product or service should be verified with the manufacturer, provider, or party.
Message 32 of 61 (4,283 Views)
Mentor

Re: Speed issues with Netflix streaming

AT&T Customer Service has admitted to me, twice now, that the problem is likely oversubscription in my region, but that they would try different equipment first. Supposedly they had an appointment setup to replace my gear, but that never happened, and no one has responded to my subsequent requests. The network in this region was supposedly upgraded, which is why we signed up, but this doesn't appear to be the case - or not that I can tell from all evidence available to me as a customer.
Message 33 of 61 (4,281 Views)
ACE - Expert

Re: Speed issues with Netflix streaming

[ Edited ]

Look, I'm sorry but their telephone customer support is only good when they find the right script page to read.  If they go off script, they have no idea what they're talking about.  (When they're on script, provided they're on the right page, they often still have no idea what they're talking about, but at least the information is more accurate.)

 

So, you don't know what is meant by "oversubscribed," only that some one in Customer Service said those words to you in an attempt to get you off the phone and give her a good rating?

 

What do you think it means?

 

*The views and opinions expressed on this forum are purely my own. Any product claim, statistic, quote, or other representation about a product or service should be verified with the manufacturer, provider, or party.
Message 34 of 61 (4,277 Views)
Mentor

Re: Speed issues with Netflix streaming

The term oversubscribed comes directly from Customer Service and both install techs who have been to my house.  Both techs (specifically the second one who came out after I starting having issues with Netflix) stated that I would not be happy with AT&T's Internet if I streamed video.

Message 35 of 61 (4,275 Views)
ACE - Expert

Re: Speed issues with Netflix streaming


jesserehmer wrote:

The term oversubscribed comes directly from Customer Service and both install techs who have been to my house.  Both techs (specifically the second one who came out after I starting having issues with Netflix) stated that I would not be happy with AT&T's Internet if I streamed video.


Okay, so you don't know what you meant when you repeated the term "oversubscribed," but you used it anyway.  What neither tech told you was that you may not be happy with any Residential Internet Access Provider if you stream video, depending on where you are and what video provider.

 

*The views and opinions expressed on this forum are purely my own. Any product claim, statistic, quote, or other representation about a product or service should be verified with the manufacturer, provider, or party.
Message 36 of 61 (4,264 Views)

Re: Speed issues with Netflix streaming

im sorry you folks are having these problems but thanks so much for posting. I signed up for uverse last night and have had nothing but trouble ever since. I will be cancelling this mess before its installed. You have saved me a great headache

Message 37 of 61 (4,212 Views)
ACE - Expert

Re: Speed issues with Netflix streaming


maxwellsbp wrote:

im sorry you folks are having these problems but thanks so much for posting. I signed up for uverse last night and have had nothing but trouble ever since. I will be cancelling this mess before its installed. You have saved me a great headache


You just signed up last night, haven't installed yet, but have had nothing but trouble? 

 

*The views and opinions expressed on this forum are purely my own. Any product claim, statistic, quote, or other representation about a product or service should be verified with the manufacturer, provider, or party.
Message 38 of 61 (4,208 Views)
Highlighted

Re: Speed issues with Netflix streaming

I'm having the same issues.  Too many troubleshooting steps have been done to repeat them here.  I've had an inside tech here three times and an outside tech three times.  Modem has been replaced twice.  I replaced all cables involved multiple times.  AT&T has checked the wiring, found an issue with it and fixed it.  No difference with Netflix, however.  If I use my smartphone as a hotspot, I can stream in HD to my hearts content.  Since this issue has been going on at least two months, I'm going to be dropping my U-verse service.

Message 39 of 61 (4,160 Views)

Re: Speed issues with Netflix streaming

As a follow-up to my previous post, I ordered Charter cable internet last week and, after using it a week, it has been working great and I am having none of the issues that I have with U-verse. Time to cancel U-verse. FYI, I am in Madison, WI for those in the area with the same problems.

Message 40 of 61 (4,109 Views)
Teacher

Re: Speed issues with Netflix streaming

NetFlix (you say) uses 1/3 of the internet traffic. I can see that as leaching on AT&T's infrastructure.

Here's the irony: The only reason most of us are paying for more than basic internet speed is NetFlix.

 

Without NetFlix I couldn't care less when I see speed advertised for an internet provider.

Perhaps it is the case that the only reason AT&T has 1/3 of it's business is because of NetFlix. Smiley Frustrated  Think of it that way.

As a more practical matter:

I don't think most of us know what a CDN is.  And suggestions are offered here but It would be great to have a 'how to' list to be able to try these things.

Use a VPN? I have no idea?

Change DNS Settings. I think I know how to do that but change to what?

Why doesn't AT&T save itself some trouble and just ask, "Hey, are you primarily interested in getting good NetFlix?" Then provide a standard setup geared towards that.

Message 41 of 61 (4,089 Views)
Teacher

Re: Speed issues with Netflix streaming

And, as I've said earlier, I have the super-premium... and last Saturday night, the supposedly HD movie looked like it was shot on a 1980's cell phone and it kept stopping to restream.

So if NetFlix costs AT&T more in infrastructure, pass it on to the customer. There is no way it is ethical to  charge me a premium for high-bandwidth and also selectively choke NetFlix to where it doesn't matter if I have your lowest cost bandwidth. At least choke it on a sliding scale!

Message 42 of 61 (4,088 Views)
Explorer

Re: Speed issues with Netflix streaming

This is my opinion based on my testing and research I've done since April 2013 to Present. It is merely an opinion nothing more, nothing less.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

“While they call it ‘Open Connect,’ Netflix is actually closing off access to some of its content while seeking unprecedented preferential treatment from ISPs.”

I believe it is wrong for Netflix to withhold any content formats from my ISP and the subscribers of many other ISPs.

On 9/26/2013 Netflix made this announcement:

"All Netflix members, regardless of their Internet service provider (ISP), now have access to the highest quality HD streams available on Netflix. This means that the great TV shows and movies on Netflix will look even better on HD screens with a higher bit rate stream, Super HD, that applies less compression to the 1080p image."

Yet Netflix also said this:

"Netflix uses 'adaptive streaming' to dynamically adjust the video quality based on the available bandwidth. This means that the ability to receive Super HD depends on broadband quality and performance. Netflix members who subscribe to an ISP with a direct Netflix connection will get the best experience."

Customers whose ISPs choose not to participate with Netflix Open Connect are routinely unable to watch HD (720p, 1080p) by a large margin during prime time. "The best experience" HD Video can only be viewed the customers whose ISP participate with Open Connect. Netflix should place this disclaimer concerning their services in their advertising and service contracts. "If your ISP does not use Open Connect you may not be able to view HD content during Pime Time viewing".

Netflix services have become totally worthless and users are unable to view in HD (720p, 1080p) or even SD (480p) during Prime time (6pm - 1am, 7 days a week). Resolution during these times is worst than 480i VHS quality. As many users including myself who only watch HD (720p, 1080p), watching DVDs (480p), VHS tapes (480i) , or 480i Broadcast TV is history.

Netflix is aware of this. Netflix is diverting and/or traffic shaping all streaming data during prime time to all customers who subscribe to an ISP which does not use Netflix Open Connect to prevent the inadequate numbers of CDNs from crashing.

This has become a disaster since September 2013 when "Netflix made Super HD available to everyone" with "The best experience for those whose ISP use Open Connect" instead of increasing the numbers of regional Open Connect CDNs to everyone without ISP intervention. It is not the responsibility of an Internet Service Provider to improve the Netflix experience. It is a Netflix Content Delivery responsibility.

My Fiber Optic 12Mbps bandwidth package is 99% stable, 11.7 Mbps with 0-1% variance over a 2GB random download when testing during prime time and 24 hrs/day. All 5 of my other 1080p subscription services (Vudu, HBO GO, M Go, Amazon, Hulu) are perfect.

If the stream is not 720p or 1080p it is not HD. If the stream is 720p or higher it is technically HD. At the present time Blu Ray 1080p 24fps is the highest quality HD resolution widely available to consumers. Many devices can play only at 30fps. A human's vision has finite capabilities without retinal and lens enhancements. Depending on screen size and distance from the screen most humans without perfect color and distance vision and perfect screen color, gamma, contrast, brightness and pixel pitch will notice very minor differences if at all between 720p 30fps and 1080p 30fps.

The differences between 720p/1080p and 480p and lower are remarkable.

Netflix is blaming the ISPs. It is not the ISPs traffic shaping/throttling, bottle necks, congestion, etc. It is Netflix CDN overload.

Regardless of who is responsible, it is a Netflix problem. The top 4 ISPs in North America serve 80% of all internet users and do not and will not opt in to the Netflix Open Connect CDN "deal".

My colleagues and I want to continue to enjoy Netflix viewing in HD, 720p and/or 1080p not 260i, 360i, 480i or 480p.
Message 43 of 61 (4,081 Views)
Explorer

Re: Speed issues with Netflix streaming

The only poor "Internet service during peak hours" in my experience has been and is with Netflix only. Never HBO GO, Amazon, Hulu Plus, Vudu, M GO, or Directv On Demand internet downloads (with instant play from the DVR recording as soon as download begins with no pauses in playing to allow the download to catch up with the playing).

Also as if magically within 5 mintutes +- of 0100 hrs CST Netflix ramps up to a bit rate of 5800 which is there Super HD. All other HD streaming services play 1080p out of the gate 24/7.

Here is the best Netlix on screen title with real on screen playing time bit rate, resolution, and screen ratio: [ Example Short 23.976 ], just type it in the Neflix search and add to your queue/list. It runs for 10 minutes. You may want to mute the sound while viewing the data.
Message 44 of 61 (4,066 Views)

Re: Speed issues with Netflix streaming

[ Edited ]

So, it's only AT&T that is having issues with Netflix, think again.  Comcast users are complaining just as much.

 

Here is an entire list of ISPs whose users have complained about Netflix.

” Auto racing, bull fighting, and mountain climbing are the only real sports … all others are games.”- Ernest Hemingway
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