By Marina Lopes
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Google Inc <GOOGL.O><GOOG.O> is rating Internet service providers' video streaming quality on a new website, the latest development in the fight between broadband providers and content companies over who is to blame for slow streaming speeds.
A link to the website appears when videos on Google's streaming service, YouTube, are slow to buffer. The website quietly launched in May, but recently drew growing publicity.
"There are many factors that influence your video streaming quality, including your choice of Internet Service Provider (ISP). Learn how your ISP performs and understand your options," the website reads.
Google rates the Internet service providers based on how quickly billions of hours of YouTube videos watched every month load over 30 days and divides those results by provider and location to determine the quality of performance viewers get 90 percent of the time, the company said.
The website is intended to inform customers who want to view video in high-definition how best to do it, Matt McLernon, a YouTube spokesman said.
"We are just basically providing information, not trying to tell people to change their behavior or do anything different," said McLernon.
Customers can compare the performance of various Internet service providers in their area through the website.
Google is not the first content company to send messages directly to consumers about their Internet service providers. In June, Netflix Inc <NFLX.O> sent its customers messages that Verizon Inc <VZ.N> and other Internet providers were to blame for slow speeds.
Last month, the U.S. Federal Communications Commission announced it would investigate agreements between Internet service providers and content companies to determine whether they are causing slow speeds.
Netflix has been calling on the FCC to do away with fees content companies pay to Internet service providers for smooth delivery of their services to consumers.
The FCC is expected to consider that idea as it seeks public comment on recently proposed Internet traffic, or "net neutrality," rules that suggest content companies should be allowed to strike "commercially reasonable" deals with broadband providers to give priority to their traffic.
(Reporting by Marina Lopes; Editing by Jonathan Oatis)