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
ACE - Expert

Re: Speed issues with Netflix streaming

The problem is more likely a peering issue between AT&T and the provider of services (e.g. Netflix) than any oversubscription problem within the U-verse network.  This is why your speedtests work fine but your videos pixelate or buffer.

 

Netflix wants ISPs to jump through hoops (e.g. build a Netflix CDN within their own network) to provide their shared subscribers better access to the Netflix content, but as far as I can tell are not willing to commit to covering the on going costs required for the ISP to service the Netflix business model.  Some ISPs have been willing to join the Netflix "Open Connect" network.

 

Note that Netflix and Youtube combined now represent about 50% of the traffic on the US Internet.

 

BTW, Charter's speeds are every bit as "up to" as AT&T's.  I get my subscribed rate from AT&T pretty much all the time; that was not true with Charter (who I had immediately previous to AT&T).

 

From a Charter website:

  • "Download speeds up to 30 Mbps"
  • "High speed Internet-up to 30 Mbps download speed"
  • "unmatched speeds up to 30 Mbps across all of your family's Internet-enabled devices"

 

 

*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 2 of 61
Mentor

Re: Speed issues with Netflix streaming

I appreciate the response, but Charter does not use Netflix's Open Connect services, nor do they use any other CDN and they have no issues. I had them for over 5 years and never once experienced what I am experiencing with Uverse. I understand the technical aspect of your explanation, but that is the same load of crap I've gotten from everyone with AT&T and it simply doesn't hold up.

You only need to be able to sustain 5Mbps to stream HD via Netflix. So what you're telling me is that AT&T doesn't have the upstream capacity do that. There is no direct peering with Netflix as you mentioned. AT&T routes me through Level3 to Netflix so I see the issue as being more likely a throughput problem on AT&T network out to the rest of the Internet. What I need is for someone higher up to confirm (or deny and fix) the issue.
Message 3 of 61
Mentor

Re: Speed issues with Netflix streaming

Never once have I gotten a speed test with Uverse to show 24Mbps, closest was 21Mbps. With Charter it was consistently 37Mbps on my 30Mbps connection.
Message 4 of 61
ACE - Expert

Re: Speed issues with Netflix streaming

Sigh.  There have been ongoing complaints from users across nearly every ISP over the past two or three years as load increases, shifts and peering arrangements change.  Some people have gotten relief from the issue by using a VPN, which redirected the Netflix traffic to another peering point then fed it in through the U-verse network to their home.

 

If you would like, you could try clicking this AT&T logoU-verse Customer Service link to send a Private Message (PM) to the AT&T customer service team to help you resolve your request. You can expect a reply via return PM (the blue envelope envelope in the upper right hand corner of this site) in a business day or three.

This is a group of U-verse service specialists who are knowledgeable about U-verse and will stay with your problem until the end (instead of forgetting about it when the phone hits the cradle). Speed things up by including your Billing Account Number, and the best time and way to reach you.  No guarantee that they will be able to help you an any way, but they have more resources than the people who you've reached by phone.

 

*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 5 of 61
Mentor

Re: Speed issues with Netflix streaming

Thanks, that was my hope, that someone here could do more than the customer service reps on the phone. Or if someone from AT&T can confirm oversubscription in my area that would help. Either way I never experienced an issue like this with Charter. And I'm more than happy to pay less for their 30Mbps internet which they consistently delivered to me for years than I am for 24Mbps connection through Uverse. If I didn't dislike Charter so much we would have never gone with AT&T. However, it is more important for me to have reliable Internet then to not give Charter money. If they provide the better Internet service then so be-it, but I *thought* AT&T had these issues worked out from the research I had done prior to switching.

The TV service is phenomenal compared to Charter - that I will absolutely admit!
Message 6 of 61
ACE - Expert

Re: Speed issues with Netflix streaming


jesserehmer wrote:
Never once have I gotten a speed test with Uverse to show 24Mbps, closest was 21Mbps. With Charter it was consistently 37Mbps on my 30Mbps connection.

This is partially because of the artificial speed bump (PowerBoost) that they give you for the first seconds of every stream so that speed tests will look artificially good.  Did you ever measure a 500 MB download?

 

I regularly get 12.2 Mbps on my 12.0 Mbps connection using speed test, and have measured 11.7 on longer term downloads.

 

 

*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 7 of 61
Mentor

Re: Speed issues with Netflix streaming


JefferMC wrote:

jesserehmer wrote:
Never once have I gotten a speed test with Uverse to show 24Mbps, closest was 21Mbps. With Charter it was consistently 37Mbps on my 30Mbps connection.

This is partially because of the artificial speed bump (PowerBoost) that they give you for the first seconds of every stream so that speed tests will look artificially good.  Did you ever measure a 500 MB download?

 

I regularly get 12.2 Mbps on my 12.0 Mbps connection using speed test, and have measured 11.7 on longer term downloads.

 

 


 

I've downloaded 100GB files and sustained ~30Mbps (with 1-4Mbps sags, but the sags lasted seconds) all day every day with Charter.  I used it for work where we frequently download large files for processing.  I don't do that work from home anymore, but my downloading of large files with Uverse shows extremely inconsistent speeds which fluctuate from 1Mbps - 20Mbps.  I have no steady/sustained rates with AT&T like I experienced with Charter.  This is another bit of information that leads me to believe things are oversubscribed.

 

The server that I'm downloading these files from is my own, hosted in the data center that I work at all day.  I know the throughput issue is not on the other end.  Smiley Wink

Message 8 of 61
ACE - Expert

Re: Speed issues with Netflix streaming


jesserehmer wrote:

 

The server that I'm downloading these files from is my own, hosted in the data center that I work at all day.  I know the throughput issue is not on the other end.  Smiley Wink


Understood, but there's a lot of network in between. 

 

*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 9 of 61

Re: Speed issues with Netflix streaming

I must be in a lucky area as I only have the 12Mbps internet speed and I have no issues with Netflix on multiple wireless devices, many times more than one in use.  Our house currenlty has 4 Rokus, 3 wireless PCs, a 3 Kindles, an iPad, an iPod and a Nook, all of which are used to watch Nextflix.

” Auto racing, bull fighting, and mountain climbing are the only real sports … all others are games.”- Ernest Hemingway
Message 10 of 61
Mentor

Re: Speed issues with Netflix streaming

It is a shame because I REALLY don't want to switch back to Charter.  The tech was just out, replaced all of our cabling since the previous tech didn't use cat5 the whole way.  Everything checks out better than okay from his end and he watched the issue on both the Apple TV and our Blu-ray player WIRED into the new modem.  Now that I've confirmed for sure our service is fine I'll escalate through here.

 

The odd thing is, when Netflix crawls to a halt we are still getting 21-23Mbps via speed tests and other file downloads.  They have to be throttling Netflix somewhere upstream from me, nothing else explains what we are seeing.  It's just a matter of getting the right person to acknowledge and change some settings for our neighborhood.

Message 11 of 61
ACE - Expert

Re: Speed issues with Netflix streaming

I really do not believe that AT&T throttles this traffic.  But I don't think they go out of their way to assist Netflix in getting their traffic into AT&T's network, nor do I think they should do so without compensation from Netflix.

 

*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 12 of 61
Mentor

Re: Speed issues with Netflix streaming

They definitely use QoS within their network to throttle Internet services.  This is a widely known fact in the Internet carrier industry.  I work for a data center/web hosting provider who has 10Gbps circuits through AT&T, Level3, Verizon, Hurricane Electric, and Intelliquent.  I can say with 100% certainty that our representatives have gone into detail about how QoS is implemented at the edge of AT&T's network.  I can only imagine that it is worse once inside before it gets down the DSL/Uverse subscribers.  The problem is no one who you speak with as an end user/customer knows how any of it works and it rarely gets escalated to the right people for resolution.  I do know that they've had a lot of problems with Internet service in our area and they touted their upgrade was completed when they sent reps around door-to-door, which is when we switched.

 

I will say that our speed has improved since the tech has been out as I can now sustain 21-23Mbps when downloading a large (>1GB) file.  However, Netflix is still terrible quality as the tech witnessed himself.  He had no explanation except to say that something else upstream must not be right and to keep pressing customer service.

Message 13 of 61
ACE - Expert

Re: Speed issues with Netflix streaming

I don't doubt that there are more packets trying to be routed into some areas of AT&T's peering routers than they're configured to accept and that they have some prioritization in place to deal with that.

 

What I don't accept is that AT&T needs only to turn a switch or repriortize traffic and everyone will be happy. 

 

*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 14 of 61
Mentor

Re: Speed issues with Netflix streaming

Now that I've been able to gather more data there is seemingly some throttling happening here... Any device be it my Macbook, AppleTV, or Blu-ray player can not download faster than 3Mbps from Netflix.  When the playback first starts the download starts at 5Mbps for a little bit (the "required" amount for HD playback according to Netflix) and then quickly throttles down.  Explains why the playback sometimes is fine the first 15 seconds and then suddenly becomes pixelated.

 

Streaming from iTunes is giving me a steady 13Mbps download rate through the entire playback and the quality is wonderful.  I'm going also follow up with Netflix, but since no one else around me is experiencing this I doubt it is a problem with their network.

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