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.