Netflix Comes Clean About Throttling AT&T and Verizon Data

Ever since T-Mobile launched their Binge On initiative, stretching customer's data allowances by essentially "optimizing" how much data videos streamed online used, a debate around throttling and data usage has been brewing. Binge On has been controversial for a lot of reasons, and has sparked a debate around Net Neutrality, just what "throttling" actually means and a whole lot more besides. Since its launch however, big names like Netflix and YouTube have enrolled into the service, leading T-Mobile's fearless leader, John Legere, to point the finger at AT&T and Verizon, accusing them of throttling Netflix traffic. Last week, both major networks denied the claims, but now Netflix themselves are coming clean and admitting to throttling mobile video streams on both AT&T and Verizon's networks.

Earlier this week, Netflix came clean and said that for more than five years, the streaming service had been throttling data on wireless networks around the globe, including the two largest networks in the US. Neither AT&T or Verizon were too happy about this latest news, but for Netflix it's just one more unavoidable cost to do business in the United States, stating that they do this to "protect consumers from exceeding mobile data caps". Apparently, these limited streams would top out at just 600-kbps, which is fairly low considering that super-fast 4G networks are readily available in most areas, and capable of far faster speeds. Speaking of T-Mobile and Sprint, Netflix stressed that they didn't need to throttle streams for their customers, stating that the two have "more consumer-friendly policies". We're assuming that Netflix is referring to unlimited data options that only T-Mobile or Sprint have on offer, but consumers are less than likely to be pleased with Netflix.

For the streaming service, it's as if they're stuck between a rock and a hard place. With most users dealing with a data cap on mobile, Netflix needs to balance getting users to watch as much as they can, while also making sure these same users can still stream more movies and TV shows, with one solution being to throttle the streams. To make things more transparent and straightforward, Netflix is introducing a "data saver" feature which allow users more control over how their streams are delivered, which might make it easier for say someone on an 8 or 12GB data cap to adjust the speed and amount of data used at certain points during the month.

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Tom Dawson

Former Editor-in-Chief
For years now I've had a heavy interest in technology, growing up with 8-bit computers and gaming consoles has fed into an addiction to everything that beeps. Android saved me from the boredom of iOS years ago and I love watching the platform grow. As an avid reader and writer nothing pleases me more than to write about the exciting world of Android, Google and mobile technology as a whole.