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Verizon ramps up Netflix tiff with cease and desist letter

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Verizon (NYSE: VZ) upped the stakes of its broadband battle with Netflix (NASDAQ: NFLX) beyond funny error messages and silly corporate blog posts Thursday. The telco giant and ISP sent a cease and desist letter to the subscription video-on-demand provider, telling it to stop displaying messages on the buffering screens of its subscribers, telling them their sluggish streaming performance is the result of congestion on Verizon's network.

In its letter, Verizon also demanded that Netflix turn over a list of the customers it had sent this buffering message to, or otherwise face legal consequences.

"Failure to provide this information may lead us to pursue legal remedies,'' Verizon general counsel Randal Milch said in a letter sent to Netflix general counsel David Hyman and obtained by Reuters.

Netflix has been involved in several corporate tiffs with Internet service providers of late. And this latest kerfuffle erupted Monday, when a Vox Media blogger posted a picture of one of the Netflix error messages on his Twitter account.

Earlier on Thursday, Verizon posted on its corporate blog that the messages amounted to a "misleading PR stunt." David Young, VP of federal regulatory affairs for Verizon, also wrote that any connection issues experienced by Verizon ISP customers using Netflix likely stemmed from "congestion on the connection that Netflix has chosen to use to reach Verizon's network."

Netflix told Reuters Thursday that the messages are intended to inform customers about their ISP, just as its "speed index" rankings do.

"This is about consumers not getting what they paid for from their broadband provider,'' Netflix spokesman Jonathan Friedland told the news service. "We are trying to provide more transparency, just like we do with the ISP Speed Index, and Verizon is trying to shut down that discussion."

For more:
- read this Reuters story

Related links:
Verizon calls Netflix customer ISP messages 'misleading PR stunt'
Google joins Netflix in the ISP rating game, says its report is more comprehensive
Reed Hastings: Comcast 'wants the whole Internet'

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