Netflix admits to delivering lower quality video to AT&T and Verizon customers

For those of you who have been following the news, you’re likely familiar with the heated discussion surrounding T-Mobile's Binge On program, which came under scrutiny for the way it downgrades the video quality on streaming services such as Netflix in order to save bandwidth. AT&T and Verizon became new targets for such criticism last week.

While T-Mobile has since repaired some of the commotion it created, with new partnerships and a revised policy, AT&T and Verizon are still under fire for downgrading Netflix video quality.

However, mobile carriers may not always be the ones to blame, as Netflix told the Wall Street Journal on Thursday that it has been lowering the quality of its streaming videos for more than five years now. They said that this happens across a number of wireless carriers across the globe, including AT&T and Verizon.

The aim is to “protect consumers from exceeding mobile data caps”

The company explained that it imposes a cap of 600 kilobits -- or around 75 kilobytes -- per second on its streams because it doesn’t want its customers to end up with inflated bills, which “may discourage future viewing”. The problem is that the company has only now disclosed this practice, and data caps like these are not easy to justify in the context of ubiquitous access to much faster wireless networks. WSJ received statements from both Verizon and AT&T, and they’re not pretty:

“Verizon delivers video content at the resolution provided by the host service, whether that’s Netflix or any other provider.”

“We’re outraged to learn that Netflix is apparently throttling video for their AT&T customers without their knowledge or consent.”

Netflix offered an example of how watching just two hours of HD video on its service would eat some six gigabytes of data, which is the maximum allowed on a $80 Verizon plan. However, the company also said that it doesn’t apply the same cap on T-Mobile and Sprint, which have a “consumer-friendly policy” of slowing the speed instead of charging additional overage fees.

It’s important to note that this news has the potential to damage the image that Netflix has been creating for itself over the years, which is one of a championing supporter of net neutrality.

Source: Wall Street Journal

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