We live in a society where media and entertainment are constantly being consumed. It’s an arms race to be the phone and/or internet provider that wins over the largest portion of the general public. The most recent frenzy revolves around Netflix, the media streaming giant that is dominating the streaming market.
The CEO of T-Mobile, John Legere, recently made an implication that his company’s rivals, Verizon and AT&T were secretly and purposefully lowering the video quality of the Netflix app. His direct quote was,
“Did you know that when you watch Netflix on T-Mobile you get it at 480p, and the duopoly actually delivers it at 360p? I bet you didn’t know that. Go check. It’s true.”
Claims of this nature are not taken lightly, and both Verizon and AT&T were up in arms about the accusation. They did not have to fight for their honor for long, as Netflix stepped forward and admitted that they were the ones doing the “throttling” of the video quality.
This came as a shock to many, as Netflix has been at the forefront of the “open Internet” movement. They admitted that they have been limiting the video speeds to most of the major wireless carriers; but it was with good intentions. Netflix says they were reducing video quality to protect the consumer. Almost all major wireless carriers have mobile data caps, and Netflix wanted to help their consumers avoid hitting that cap, as that would likely discourage users from streaming in the future.
Netflix has come forward to say that they don’t reduce video quality for Sprint and T-Mobile (so John Legere was not wrong), “because “historically those two companies have had more consumer-friendly policies.” When clients of Verizon or AT&T go over their data limit, the carriers charge overage fees, while T-Mobile and Sprint reportedly just slow down connections.
This is a very interesting situation as it brings to light the pressures that apps are under to provide a quality experience for their users, while taking the powers of the carrier providers into consideration. Now that the news it out, Netflix is working on solutions to the video quality vs data cap dilemma. There are talks of a mobile data server that could be rolled out as soon as May, that would let users “stream more video under a smaller data plan.”