Admitting to throttling video, Netflix now promises more control for users

A new feature due in May will let users choose video quality

Netflix admitted Thursday to throttling video streams worldwide for its mobile users, but said it hasn't been an issue for customers.

The video streaming company plans to roll out to its members sometime in May a 'data saver' feature, allowing them greater control over their data usage when streaming on mobile networks.

Users will then be able to “either stream more video under a smaller data plan, or increase their video quality if they have a higher data plan,” wrote Anne Marie Squeo, a spokeswoman for the company, in a blog post.

The company said it has capped worldwide the default bitrate for viewing over mobile networks to 600 Kbps (kilobits per second), to protect its members from overage charges when they exceed mobile data caps. “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,” Squeo wrote.

Netflix said its research and testing indicates that “many members worry about exceeding their mobile data cap, and don’t need the same resolution on their mobile phone as on a large screen TV to enjoy shows and movies.” It is nevertheless providing the new feature for those users who value higher resolution and quality and are less concerned about data caps or have plans that don't bill prohibitive overage charges.

AT&T and Verizon Communications were last week handling accusations from T-Mobile CEO John Legere that the "duopoly" was  throttling Netflix streams to 360p resolution.

Netflix told The Wall Street Journal that it doesn’t limit video quality at T-Mobile and Sprint, as historically those two companies have had more consumer-friendly policies, usually slowing network connections, rather than charging overage fees when users cross data caps.

Netflix has been a strong supporter of the principle of net neutrality which opposes mobile and broadband service providers from throttling or speeding data from certain websites. But it recently signed on to T-Mobile’s free Binge On service that exempts some video streaming, including Netflix at 480p resolution and YouTube, from the operator’s monthly data caps on customers.

The practice of not charging for data to access certain services, also known as zero-rating, has been criticized as being contrary to net neutrality principles. Facebook's Free Basics Internet service to the poor in India was, for example, banned on similar grounds.

Join the newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.
Rocket to Success - Your 10 Tips for Smarter ERP System Selection
Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

John Ribeiro

IDG News Service
Show Comments

Cool Tech

Breitling Superocean Heritage Chronographe 44

Learn more >

SanDisk MicroSDXC™ for Nintendo® Switch™

Learn more >

Toys for Boys

Family Friendly

Panasonic 4K UHD Blu-Ray Player and Full HD Recorder with Netflix - UBT1GL-K

Learn more >

Stocking Stuffer

Razer DeathAdder Expert Ergonomic Gaming Mouse

Learn more >

Christmas Gift Guide

Click for more ›

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Edwina Hargreaves

WD My Cloud Home

I would recommend this device for families and small businesses who want one safe place to store all their important digital content and a way to easily share it with friends, family, business partners, or customers.

Walid Mikhael

Brother QL-820NWB Professional Label Printer

It’s easy to set up, it’s compact and quiet when printing and to top if off, the print quality is excellent. This is hands down the best printer I’ve used for printing labels.

Ben Ramsden

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

Brainstorming, innovation, problem solving, and negotiation have all become much more productive and valuable if people can easily collaborate in real time with minimal friction.

Sarah Ieroianni

Brother QL-820NWB Professional Label Printer

The print quality also does not disappoint, it’s clear, bold, doesn’t smudge and the text is perfectly sized.

Ratchada Dunn

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

The Huddle Board’s built in program; Sharp Touch Viewing software allows us to easily manipulate and edit our documents (jpegs and PDFs) all at the same time on the dashboard.

George Khoury

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

The biggest perks for me would be that it comes with easy to use and comprehensive programs that make the collaboration process a whole lot more intuitive and organic

Featured Content

Product Launch Showcase

Latest Jobs

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?