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Netflix Clears Why Content on AT&T and Verizon is Throttled

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Over the past few days, there have been reports of AT&T and Verizon throttling Netflix. The claim was originally made by T-Mobile CEO John Legere, which led a number of news outlets to pick up the story. In response to this claim, the two carriers were quick to deny any Netflix content throttling on their end. With their response, Legere has been put on a tight corner as it seemed like he obtained misinformation from his source. Taking a deeper look at it though, the situation is a bit more complex. While what Legere said was technically true, it still doesn't mean the two carriers were throttling Netflix content. Just take a look at this deeper analysis into the situation.

So does AT&T and Verizon throttle content from Netflix at all?

In the most basic sense of the word, no. Both AT&T and Verizon are not taking any active role on how Netflix content is delivered to their mobile networks. When Legere made his claim on the issue, he said that:

And the duopoly is actually delivering your Netflix content at 360p. I'll bet you didn't know that. Go check; it's true.
AT&T and Verizon have denied actively throttling content to their users. In fact, they haven't been doing anything to affect how content from Netflix is delivered. 


That brings us to the next question: then who is throttling Netflix content at 360p on AT&T and Verizon?

Ever since this hullabaloo broke, Netflix has admitted that it is partly to blame for streaming content at low speeds. The reason behind this was because they believed that the two networks were no longer offering unlimited data plans to their customers.

An official statement from Netflix states that:

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. So in an effort to protect our members from overage charges when they exceed mobile data caps, our default bitrate for viewing over mobile networks has  been capped globally at 600 kilobits per second.
Based on the statement released by Netflix, subscribers under AT&T and Verizon will only see 600 Kbps stream quality caps on Netflix, which is why video content is streamed at 360p.

How about on other carriers?

When asked about throttling to other carriers, Netflix says that it does not throttle video streams viewed by Sprint or T-Mobile customers. The reason behind this is because Netflix considers these two companies to have a more consumer-friendly policy when it comes to mobile data caps, referring to the unlimited data plans offered  by the carriers.

So does this mean Netflix will continue throttling content on AT&T and Verizon customers?

Technically, Netflix says no. They are currently working on a mobile data saver toggle for their Android app. When the toggle is already available, Netflix will no longer throttle content based on network. Netflix promises that this new data saver feature will give their users more control on how they want to use their data when using their mobile device to stream content. The toggle will allow them to stream more video on a smaller data plan or opt to increase their video quality if they already have a higher data plan. The data saver toggle is set to roll out to devices sometime in May so this means that before it gets released, subscribers on AT&T and Verizon may still experience 360p as the maximum video quality for streaming Netflix content on their devices.


Source: AndroidPolice

14 comments:

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  1. "When asked about throttling to other carriers, Netflix says that it *does* follow the same video quality cap on either Sprint or T-Mobile."

    Is this supposed to say?
    "Netflix says that it *doesn't* follow the same video quality cap on either Sprint or T-Mobile."

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  2. Personally,I think it is good to have throttle speed with good quality. Why people hate throttling data for streaming? Is that hurts them?

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    1. People hate paying for HD video but getting a throttled 360p stream instead.

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  3. As long as these terms were knowable to the consumer then it is fine, but having the option (the coming toggle) is much better.

    Denis, shouln't it say DOES NOT FOLLOW when referring to S and TMO?

    "Netflix says that it does follow the same video quality cap ... "

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    1. I've corrected the typo. NetFlix doesn't throttle T-Mobile and Sprint's video streams.

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  4. It sounds like what Legere said was literally true but instead of admitting it, the duopoly muddied the waters like a politician. It sure makes me look at that Verizon balls commercial in a different light.

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    1. Yes, Legere's reaction to Verizon's commercial is all smoke and mirrors. T-Mobile coverage is still bad compared to Verizon, and Verizon will always smoke T-Mobile in a comparison challenge, unless T-Mobile rigs it by pre-selecting those few areas that have both T-Mobile and Verizon coverage.

      Remember, this is the same T-Mobile that once harassed journalists for daring to be mobile with their phones (using them outside of the limited set of T-Mobile locations), and is now going after RootMetrics for giving an honest accounting of the mobile situation today (where T-Mobile, like Sprint, is still much worse than Verizon and AT&T).

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  5. I will say that Netflix is quite correct about the consumer unfriendly policies of the duopoly. MetroPCS and T-Mobile are certainly much friendlier to consumers.

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    1. How so? Metro throttles their LTE to 5mbps as a principle!

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    2. Waiting for JAM to tell us which uses, video streams, or anything at all is prevented by a 5mbps limit.

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    3. Sorry, there is no duopoly. It simply does not exist in the US. While the two truly national carriers are much larger than the others (including T-Mobile), taken together they "control" 2/3 of the customers. The rest control 1/3.

      That does not meet the definition of duopoly. Time to hit a dictionary instead of letting Legere make up a new version of English for you, my friend.

      As for T-Mobile being more friendly to customers than the two truly national carriers, customers disagree with you. Very strongly. Check which carriers customers choose, and get back with me. When it comes to matters like this, what customers think matters more than false advertising claims.

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  6. This in-app toggle will only affect streaming in your mobile network and not while on wifi, right?

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  7. Actually change takes time. T-Mobile currently has some of the fastest growing numbers of customers. At&t and Verizon got crappy customer service. And majority if the time don't give a damn about the individual customer. That's why I see T-Mobile gaining ground.

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    1. "That's why I see T-Mobile gaining ground."

      I think it is much more due to aggressive advertising. After all, the customer service difference really can't impact the popularity that much.

      When you factor out the number of customers who have really no contact with CS, and those who are helped well, you get a pretty small group of those who have had problems, in any of these companies. In proportion to the total customers.

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