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91 posts

Master Geek
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  Reply # 1008612 19-Mar-2014 00:43
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I've ran some more reliability tests on chromecast and Netflix. On Vodafone ADSL between 20:00 and 23:30 the Chromecast will keep re-buffering every minute or two while at other times in the day, the Chromecast is reliable. This is with both getflix and unotelly as DNS providers and using a dns masquerade setting (which I could do under Vyatta with some patching) of the following after blocking DNS requests directly to the 6 public DNS servers.
options server=/netflix.com/103.6.212.24
options server=/nflxext.com/103.6.212.24
options server=/nflximg.net/103.6.212.24
options server=/nflximg.com/103.6.212.24

Strangely if I view the exact same Netflix content via the Windows 7 Media Centre plugin, I get a rock solid feed with no buffering. According to the shift+alt+left click, I'm streaming at around 3Mb/s via the Silverlight based plugin.

So this tells me the following;
- There is no wireless issue - I have checked everything and removed all sources of possible interference.
- The buffersize and reliability of the Chromecast is no where near as good as a windows media PC running the Netflix plugin.
- Vodafone ADSL likely has insufficient international bandwidth to handle Netflix traffic to Chromecasts during peak internet times.
- Its likely that Vodafone are traffic shaping to Netflix (they are not stupid), despite this being outside the scope of the peer to peer policy on their web site. If they are not shaping, their traffic must be substantially oversubscribed during peak times.
- The Chromecast in its current iteration is not fit for purpose and there are too many net neutrality issues that Netflix raise at the peering gateways.
- The only benefit it provides over the Win7 plugin is to be able to handle 5.1 sound, but a reliable picture is far better than 5.1 sound.
- The DNS providers like UnoTelly are only proxying the connections during the geo-checking phase of the Netflix authentication - so there is minimal bandwidth going to the DNS providers especially using a DNSmasq setting like I've used. The path of the stream is still direct from the device to the Netflix servers/Netflix Open Connect edge caches - so this rules out the DNS providers as the source of the issue IMHO.

The Chromecast is a piece of toxic junk for viewing Netflix content reliably in NZ which is a real shame. What a waste of time.

The good thing about the Chromecast is that it is nice and small so will fit in the bin easily!
So instead of "Just take my money: Google Chromecast" - how about "Just give me my money back: Google Chromecast"!


4123 posts

Uber Geek
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  Reply # 1008621 19-Mar-2014 06:16
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No trouble getting your money back, see this http://www.geekzone.co.nz/forums.asp?forumid=77&topicid=142613

874 posts

Ultimate Geek
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  Reply # 1008622 19-Mar-2014 06:35
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My chromecast works flawlessly streaming Netflix in NZ. The problem is your ISP IMO.



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Uber Geek
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  Reply # 1008623 19-Mar-2014 06:36
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Is your Windows 7 MCE plugged in with an ethernet cable?




91 posts

Master Geek
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  Reply # 1008656 19-Mar-2014 08:08
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yep, HTPC is on wired connection. Yes, I agree it is probably my ISP (Vodafone ADSL), but it appears Vodafone aren't in a position to do anything about it due to the perceived conflict with Sky;
https://community.vodafone.co.nz/t5/Broadband-Landline/Netflix-performance/td-p/114150

Unfortunately due to the way I've layered on my discounts (like Sky Sport discount/corporate phone discount/Naked ADSL with 2talk using VOIP on HG556a), it means I can only switch ISPs if I am prepared to pay upwards of an additional $50 per month.

91 posts

Master Geek
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  Reply # 1009426 19-Mar-2014 22:26
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well this interesting...  I configured QoS on the Vyatta virtual router to rate limit the Chromecast to around 2.8Mb/s (bearing in mind I get reliable silverlight streaming at a shade under 3Mb/s). And what do you know.. Chromecast Netflix streaming suddenly becomes a lot more reliable.   I suspect what Vodafone are doing are setting QoS on their side to rate limit to Netflix at around 3Mb/s but allow initial burst rates to be higher which potentially causes the Chromecast to spit the dummy and leads to re-buffering issues (just a theory of mine). Interestingly Speedtest shows throughput to Australia at about 11Mb/s but this drops to about 3Mb/s to the east cost of America after 19:00 at night.
In some ways this is a lost cause... there is no way Netflix would allow an Open Connect caching device on Vodafone NZ backbone as this would violate the content agreements with the rights holders. There is also no reason for Vodafone to increase bandwidth to Netlfix servers overseas as this conflicts with their agreement with Sky and increases Vodafone NZ costs. I really hope someone on the inside of Vodafone NZ can comment on these issues as it has a direct bearing on subscriber churn going forwards if Vodafone don't have a clear transparent strategy about how they are going to deal with this mess.

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Uber Geek
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  Reply # 1009525 20-Mar-2014 05:59
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watsonash: well this interesting...  I configured QoS on the Vyatta virtual router to rate limit the Chromecast to around 2.8Mb/s (bearing in mind I get reliable silverlight streaming at a shade under 3Mb/s). And what do you know.. Chromecast Netflix streaming suddenly becomes a lot more reliable.  

I suspect what Vodafone are doing are setting QoS on their side to rate limit to Netflix at around 3Mb/s but allow initial burst rates to be higher which potentially causes the Chromecast to spit the dummy and leads to re-buffering issues (just a theory of mine). Interestingly Speedtest shows throughput to Australia at about 11Mb/s but this drops to about 3Mb/s to the east cost of America after 19:00 at night.

In some ways this is a lost cause... there is no way Netflix would allow an Open Connect caching device on Vodafone NZ backbone as this would violate the content agreements with the rights holders.

There is also no reason for Vodafone to increase bandwidth to Netlfix servers overseas as this conflicts with their agreement with Sky and increases Vodafone NZ costs. I really hope someone on the inside of Vodafone NZ can comment on these issues as it has a direct bearing on subscriber churn going forwards if Vodafone don't have a clear transparent strategy about how they are going to deal with this mess.


I doubt Vodafone will comment in this thread, might be better to open a new thread under Vodafone, although I think there have been several relating to VF and bandwidth not so long ago.

91 posts

Master Geek
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  Reply # 1010222 20-Mar-2014 22:11
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well.. another interesting observation here... when I go to unotelly and switch the netflix region to UK, everything works perfectly (except by the looks of things the UK Netflix region is limited to 720p and no 5.1 sound which sort of defeats the whole purpose of a Chromecast over an HTPC in the first place). Now that Chromecast has just officially launched in the UK, I expect this to change very soon, but as the UK Chromecast market quickly grows I expect anything that works today is most likely broken tomorrow in NZ.. without local CDN for Netflix (like Akamai) the prospect of reliable HD 5.1 Netflix in NZ for all is a lost cause..

874 posts

Ultimate Geek
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  Reply # 1010412 21-Mar-2014 09:22
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  the prospect of reliable HD 5.1 Netflix in NZ for all is a lost cause..


Not "for all" but for people using ISPs that run a transparent proxy.

gsr

101 posts

Master Geek
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  Reply # 1010485 21-Mar-2014 11:25
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Not sure about 5.1 sound, but it works pretty well (1080p) on slingshot. It's definitely your ISP.

91 posts

Master Geek
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  Reply # 1010912 22-Mar-2014 00:03
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yep. I'm pretty sure its Vodafone... however, I've been able to tweak the QoS settings specifically to the Chromecast... I allow a maximum of 3Mb/s to the Chromecast but now allow initial burst rates of up 5Mb/s. This seems to allow Chromecast to start with the HD 5.1 option (assuming Netflix is set to the US region via UnoTelly), but then to throttle down the connection to a reliable 3Mb/s but retaining the 5.1 audio. I will test over the next few days during peak times and report my findings.
If a manage to defeat the the Vodafone shaping/congestion, its the sort of thing I'll probably want to keep quiet though - otherwise Vodafone will just adjust the QoS settings on their side ;-)
From my understanding its just Vodafone/Telstra cable that use a transparent proxy - I'm not aware of a transparent proxy on Vodafone ADSL - but how would I tell?

91 posts

Master Geek
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  Reply # 1013457 26-Mar-2014 22:02
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after as lot of hard work, I have some very interesting findings and I've got the son-of-a-b**ch working properly;
I have changed my whole networking infrastructure now so it now looks like this;
- I have ditched the Vodafone hg566a modem/router.
- I have a DrayTek 130 in bridge mode to act purely as a modem.
- I have a Vyatta virtual router (0.5MB ram, 1 CPU) configured to handle the PPPoE connection and to handle all my routing, using a pair of NICs on my office machine.
- The wireless AP is exactly the same as it was when I was having all the issues.
Both Netflix and BBC iplayer are now running fine using UnoTelly via the Chromecast on Vodafone ADSL!
I have rate limited the Chomecast using a Vyatta policy to 3MB/s (but this probably isn't necessary any more).

wahooo! it flippin works at last!

So after all this, here are a few things I've learned;
- Even though Vodafone US/UK bandwidth is heavily congested during peak times, this is not an obstacle to the Chromecast, and there currently appears sufficient bandwidth for the Chromecast to function - lets hope Vodafone don't over-commit their US/UK bandwidth any more than at the moment.
- The router seems to play a massive part of the stability of the Chromecast, The hg556a doesn't seem able to handle the load and this may be because of default MTU size or it may be something around the fact Vyatta supports ipv6 and the Chromecast plays nicely with this, or it maybe the genral lack of horse power on the hg556a. Besides the hg556a doesn't allow for destination natting.
- It is very difficult to isolate potential issues with wifi against problems with routing throughput on the Chromecast.
- I was pleasantly surprised at how well a virtual router under VMware workstation performs - it is easily able to replace a standard ISP provided router.
- There is definitely a huge advantage for separating out the layers. i.e. having a separate ATA, a separate router (virtual/or flexible open physical), separate switching gear etc. Its geek heaven to separate but reality is that a converged all-in-one device is going to be a let down in multiple areas.
- The Chromecast is always going to be a technology battle in NZ - unless you work in IT or have an obsession to get things working properly (I fit both counts here!), you are probably going to struggle.
- Regardless of the quality of your set up, you are always at the mercy of peering disputes between the value add content providers (like Netflix) and the ISPs and the movie re-distribution rights of the copyright holders.

After all this I look at the Netflix catalog and notice it only contains a fraction of the movies out there - and in reality apart from iplayer and Netflix, why would you bother with a Chromecast? Most enthusiast HTPC owners will have a system for playing blu-ray rips at a guaranteed 1080p (or higher) even if their ISP is down. I've heard Plex streaming being mentioned in Chromecast context - but surely if you are seriously into watching content you'll want to know you'll get to the end without buffering/interruptions - which means the Chromecats is a non starter.

 

Until the Chromecast becomes usable as a commodity device in NZ (and this means Netflix/Lovefilm/BBC etc as local brands which will never happen IMHO), its just an interesting geektoy that sucks time and money.

Sorry for the rant - but it's caused me a lot of pain but I do understand its attraction.
Google- I don't want my money back - but I would like to be reimbursed for the dozens of hours I've spent with your toy and I wouldn't mind a direct connect to that fibre network you are rolling out as I can only get ADSL at my house ;-)

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Uber Geek
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  Reply # 1014089 27-Mar-2014 19:06
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It plays youtube on my tv better than any htpc reliant on the flash player in a browser ever has for me and was cheap. It plays from plex on my phone. I don't care for bluray or Netflix. Works great other than only doing 60hz output.

I'm going to see if I can get a UK one and see if that is any better as far as doing 50hz output.




Richard rich.ms

874 posts

Ultimate Geek
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  Reply # 1014117 27-Mar-2014 19:34
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if you are seriously into watching content you'll want to know you'll get to the end without buffering/interruptions - which means the Chromecats is a non starter. Until the Chromecast becomes usable as a commodity device in NZ (and this means Netflix/Lovefilm/BBC etc as local brands which will never happen IMHO), its just an interesting geektoy that sucks time and money.


Why do you continue to take digs at the Chromecast when, as has been discussed in many threads, it is your ISP that is the problem.

The chromecast works perfectly well without buffering for me and for many others.  Netflix on my chromecast is absolutely flawless.

91 posts

Master Geek
+1 received by user: 13


  Reply # 1014851 28-Mar-2014 20:49
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BigMal:
if you are seriously into watching content you'll want to know you'll get to the end without buffering/interruptions - which means the Chromecats is a non starter. Until the Chromecast becomes usable as a commodity device in NZ (and this means Netflix/Lovefilm/BBC etc as local brands which will never happen IMHO), its just an interesting geektoy that sucks time and money.


Why do you continue to take digs at the Chromecast when, as has been discussed in many threads, it is your ISP that is the problem.

The chromecast works perfectly well without buffering for me and for many others.  Netflix on my chromecast is absolutely flawless.


well, as luck would have it or not, I seem to be in the 49% category that have issues with the Chromecast. In the last half hour I've disabled AES on my router and the Chromecast is now appearing to play like it should be. So as you pointed out the ISP that I use (Vodafone) has contention issues like every other ISP during peak times, but this does not appear to be the root cause of my issues. The root cause of my issues appears to be related to the combination of AES encryption on my wifi access point and the Chromecast - and this is a Google Chromecast compatibility issue - primarily because the Chromecast is a wifi only device with low amounts of horse power. By the way, I found the AES issue on the Plex forums (even though I don't use Plex). Just in-case tis helps anyone else...

In relation to Vodafone, I have carefully explored the offerings from all ISPs and as soon as you happen to carry a Vodafone corporate phone and have Sky TV with sport, and run with a VOIP service like 2talk, it is impossible to match the monthly cost from Vodafone on naked ADSL, and its for this reason I stick with them. To shift ISPs would cost me at-least another $40 per month to get the same set of services.

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