It's now a known fact that in the US, the single biggest source for broadband traffic comes from customers streaming videos of movies and TV shows from the Netflix service. It's also a known fact that more and more Internet providers are putting in place broadband caps, some of which will certainly be broken by customers who do a lot of Netflix streaming. Now Netflix has quetly put in a tool that should help customers with managing their data usage.
According to DSLReports.com Netflix customers can now change the video quality of the videos being streamed via the official Netflix web site. According to the site, "We offer 3 video quality settings to help you manage your data usage. No matter what level you choose, your Netflix membership price will remain the same."
The lowest setting offers up video at 625 kbps and audio at 64 kbps. Using this setting will allow a customer to stream 30 hours of video with a data download of 9 GB a month. The medium setting increases the video to 1300 kbps with audio raised to 192 kpbs. This level lets customers download about 20 GB of data for the same 30 hours of streaming video. The maximum quality setting will allow Netflix customers to have up to 4800 kbps for video (that's enough to support 1080p TV resolutions) and 384 kbps for audio, but the amount of data used at that setting jumps up drastically to 67 GB for 30 hours of video.
In the past Netflix has tried to prove that broadband caps imposed by some ISPs are just money grabs, claiming that the amount of data used by customers is far more affordable than what Internet service providers have claimed.