Netflix online video feature: disappointing

I’ve been trying to get the Netflix online video feature “watch now” to work. I am a subscriber, and as such, am entitled to about 20 hours of online viewing per month without interfering with the DVD rentals or selections.

The problem is I can’t get it to work with a high enough thruput and therefore, quality. Netflix shows three levels of service available:[ol][li]High 1.6 to 2.2+ Mbps[] Good 1.0 Mbps []Basic 500 Kbps [/ol]They auto-detect the highest level you will receive when you click on the “Watch now” tab. Mine only shows the Basic level even though I have 10 times the Internet connection speed, 4 times the CPU speed, double the minimum RAM, and ample capacity in everything else they require.[/li]
Speed tests, including the one suggested by Netflix, say I am getting the expected speed (5Mb down, 500Kb up) consistently:

I have no traffic on my local network, no software firewalls or anti-virus software, no background programs that might steal cycles.

Tech support at Netflix ran some additional tests, and say my “latency” is high. They won’t reveal where their video servers are (proprietary info), but even at the location on their test that is the furthest from mine, I get sufficient thruput. Only if their servers are on the moon would it be too slow.

Checking with my ISP (Charter), they find nothing wrong with my connection. I just went to a neighbor across the street, and got the same results, so if it is Charter’s fault, at least it’s not the cable from the street to my house.

I’m puzzled as to why “latency” should be a concern. If I am getting 10X the minimum download speed for an operation that is essentially one-way, what could be the problem?

So what gives? Any ideas why I can’t get the video quality I need? Anyone else have this situation?

It could be that Netflix’s own network has become saturated with more video requests than they predicted, and so they have to throttle their own upload speed. That’s just a guess, though.

Could be, but they aren’t telling anyone.