Anyone who's suffered through a lackluster Internet connection can tell you that all Internet providers aren't created equal. The difference is really noticeable when you're doing something like streaming videos. That's why Netflix came out with its ISP Speed Index rankings. Since then, it's also tried to improve speed on the most popular ISPs by paying for direct connections to their networks. But, does paying for speed actually work?
In the long run, yes. In April, Netflix reached a deal with Verizon to get a direct connection to Verizon's FiOS network. Prior to the deal, Verizon ranked eighth out of 16 companies with an average streaming speed of 1.99 mbps in April. In September, Verizon FiOS rose to the top of the pack with an average speed of 3.17 mbps.
So, the deal was worth it, right? Now, it's starting to lo0k that way. But, the improvements Netflix paid for were a long time coming. Netflix's performance for Verizon FiOS customers actually got worse with slower streaming speeds in the months following the deal.
Verizon isn't the only company that has deal to connect Netflix right into its network. AT&T and Time Warner also have similar agreements. But, Netflix hasn't needed to make payments to every ISP to ensure great service. There are actually some companies without deals that are performing really well.
After signing a deal with AT&T, Netflix saw speeds improve for its customers on the U-verse network. Time Warner customers saw similar improvements when Netflix paid that company for access to the network, too.
AT&T U-verse also improved after receiving interconnection payments from Netflix, from 1.44Mbps in July to 2.61Mbps in August and 2.77Mbps in September. AT&T DSL moved up from 1.11Mbps in July to 1.81Mbps in August and 1.91Mbps in September. Time Warner Cable, which also struck a paid interconnection deal with Netflix, had speeds improve from 2.16Mbps in July to 2.59Mbps in August and to 2.87 in September.
While those improvements are good, they didn't shoot Time Warner or AT&T to the top of the rankings. The companies still rank eighth and ninth out of 16 companies, respectively, and Verizon FiOS has taken the top spot. Google Fiber is still the top-performing ISP with speeds around 3.54 mbps, but this list only covers major ISPs and Google doesn't serve enough customers to qualify.
Netflix's U.S. ISP Speed Index rankings for September 2014.
Take a look at the list and see what kinds of speeds you're getting from your Internet service provider. If they're not very good, it might be time to consider switching over to the competition.