FCC fact-finding mission to see what's really going on in Netflix vs Verizon

Netflix eye
Now the feds are watching

Who would have thought seven little words could cause so much turmoil? On the heels of Verizon's cease and desist demand against Netflix, the US government is jumping into the fray to make sense of it all.

Federal Communications Commission (FCC) Chairman Tom Wheeler has weighed in on the recent fracas between streaming video provider Netflix and two of the nation's largest internet service providers - and all three could soon find themselves in the crosshairs of the United States government.

The debate lit up earlier this month after a consumer caught Netflix displaying a message blaming Verizon's network for their poor streaming quality, to which Verizon quickly responded with a cease and desist order.

Although Netflix backed down on publicly shaming ISPs, concerned Americans like "George," a citizen Wheeler referenced in today's statement, have sent emails and letters pointing out consumers are the ones ultimately suffering.

Who's to blame?

"We don't know the answers and we are not suggesting that any company is at fault. But George has gone to the heart of the matter: what is going on and what can the FCC do on behalf of consumers?" Wheeler posed in the statement.

Acknowledging the increasing frustration of consumers who pay ISPs and content providers then fail to receive good service, Wheeler added, "Consumers must get what they pay for. As the consumer's representative we need to know what is going."

For now, Wheeler has directed his staff to go on a fact-finding mission "to understand whether consumers are being harmed," which will include requesting information from both ISPs and content providers, including copies of recent agreements between Netflix, Comcast and Verizon to keep data flowing smoothly.

Wheeler stressed the FCC is not yet working on regulations against any of the companies involved, but hopes to extract the necessary information to offer broadband consumers transparency on why such internet congestion is taking place.

  • While Netflix is buffering, check out our review of the MacBook Air!