Netflix has started publishing a monthly ranking of U.S. Internet service providers, using its large number of video streams to compare download times.
The winner for November is Google Fiber, the high-speed broadband service launched by the search giant last month in Kansas City, Kansas.
Netflix said that Google Fiber averaged 2.55Mbps for its streams, faster than Verizon's FiOS service, which clocked 2.19Mbps. Comcast, Charter and Cable Vision rounded out the top five, all just behind Verizon.
The streaming video provider said its large user base and constant streaming output gives it insight into the relative speeds of providers. Promoting faster download speeds is in the company's interest, as it will make viewers happier at little cost to Netflix.
"Our 30 million members view over 1 billion hours of Netflix per month, so we have very reliable data for consumers to compare ISPs in terms of real world performance," Ken Florance, vice president of content delivery wrote in a blog post.
Netflix also included mobile providers in its rankings, noting that Verizon, at an average of 0.76Mbps, was 40 percent faster than AT&T.
The company emphasized that real-world performance is well below peak download speeds for Internet providers, given factors such as the range of devices and encoding methods in play. Consumers will also experience slower streams depending on issues such as their Wi-Fi connection.
Google Fiber is a 1Gbps service that links fiber cables directly to homes. The company chose Kansas City, which sits across the state line between Kansas and Missouri as the first recipient, out of over 1,000 cities that applied in 2010.
The service offers gigabit speeds for US$70 per month, or a TV bundle that costs US$120 per month. Google will also provide free Internet at 5Mbps to households that pay a one-time US$300 installation fee, which is waived for monthly customers.
Netflix has been unable to replicate its popularity in the U.S. abroad, due in part to difficult negotiations with content providers. Currently the only international market that the company operates in is Japan, where it launched last year under a monthly subscription model. Netflix has cut rates and linked up with the country's largest mobile operator NTT DoCoMo to lure customers.
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