Netflix admits to throttling videos on AT&T and Verizon networks; promises to roll out ‘data saver’ feature to give customers more control


Last week, T-Mobile’s flamboyant CEO John Legere claimed that AT&T and Verizon customers were receiving lower-resolution Netflix streams compared to T-Mobile customers. 

AT&T and Verizon had flatly denied Legere’s claims. Netflix has now acknowledged that it has been lowering the quality of the videos for most carriers, including AT&T and Verizon customers. Netflix claims that it limited the video speeds to protect its customers from exceeding mobile data caps, which could discourage them from watching more videos.

Netflix also revealed that it is restricted streams at 600 kilobits per second. It does not limit the video quality on carriers like T-Mobile or Sprint as the carriers had more customer friendly policies. When Sprint and T-Mobile customers exceed their mobile data plan, the carriers slow the network connection instead of charging overage fees like other carriers.

Netflix has announced that it is working on a mobile “data saver” feature which will give users more control so they can decide to “stream more video under a smaller data plan, or increase their video quality if they have a higher data plan.” Netflix has announced that the feature will be rolled out in May.

Jim Cicconi, AT&T’s senior executive vice president of external and legislative affairs has criticized Netflix for throttling speeds without informing customers. He said “We’re outraged to learn that Netflix is apparently throttling video for their AT&T customers without their knowledge or consent.”

Interestingly, T-Mobile recently added YouTube as an official BingeOn (which allows subscribers to stream video from participating partners without impacting their monthly high-speed data allowance) partner. That’s big news for T-Mobile, especially considering the video service was critical of BingeOn.

Netflix has revealed that it has been lowering the quality of the videos for the last 5 years, so it is strange that it went unnoticed for so long. It remains to be seen if there will be a backlash against Netflix for throttling videos without informing customers.

What do you think? Are you disappointed that Netflix throttled videos without informing you?

[Netflix via WSJ]

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