Netflix throttles video streams on mobile devices

By Daniel Uria  |  March 26, 2016 at 12:36 PM
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LOS GATOS, Calif., March 26 (UPI) -- Netflix said it lowers the speed and quality of videos on some mobile networks to protect customers from data overage charges from their providers.

The company said it throttles videos at 600 kilobits-per-second on mobile providers AT&T and Verizon.

"We believe restrictive data caps are bad for consumers and the Internet in general, creating a dilemma for those who increasingly rely on their mobile devices for entertainment, work and more," Anne Marie Squeo, of Netflix, said . "It's about striking a balance that ensures a good streaming experience while avoiding unplanned fines from mobile providers."

T-Mobile CEO John Legere drew some attention to the issue of throttling on AT&T and Verizon when he tweeted a video stating that Netflix video streams at a lower quality on their networks.

Legere stated that Netflix streams at 480p on T-Mobile as part of Netflix's "Binge On" service, which allows users to watch video at a lower resolution without counting against their data. He went on to say that Netflix only streams at a lower 360p quality on AT&T and Verizon's networks.

Jim Cicconi, AT&T's vice president of external and legislative affairs, criticized Netflix for its policy.

"We're outraged to learn that Netflix is apparently throttling video for their AT&T customers without their knowledge or consent," he said.

Netflix stated that their research shows most customers don't worry about their data cap or having TV-quality streaming on their phone. The company said it would attempt to rectify the issue by releasing a "data saver feature designed" for mobile viewing.

"The data saver feature will provide members with more control over their data usage when streaming on mobile networks, allowing them to either stream more video under a smaller data plan, or increase their video quality if they have a higher data plan," Netflix said.

The company plans to release the feature to customers some time in May.

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