About this time last year, T-Mobile announced Binge On. A lot of users weren't too happy about it. It had it's pro's and con's. Obviously one of it's pro's was the fact that video data didn't count against your data cap. But the biggest disadvantage was the fact that all video was delivered at "DVD Quality" or 480p. Now customers were and still are, able to opt out of it. And now AT&T is looking to do the same thing. This follows Sprint's move to do the same thing earlier this year. Leaving Verizon as the only carrier not downgrading video quality on mobile networks.
Stream Saver, is what AT&T is calling it. It's not launching until early 2017, so you're not getting lower-quality video beginning today. It's pretty similar to T-Mobile's Binge On, in that it conserves data for users. But, it misses out on the biggest consumer-facing feature of Binge On, and that's the fact that video data doesn't count against your cap. But with Stream Saver, it will still count. However, with the quality being lower, you'll be able to watch even more video before hitting that precious data cap. The wording in AT&T's press release also makes it sound like this will be an opt out program. Allowing users to opt out if they wish to do so. AT&T will be sending out texts and letters when Stream Saver launches next year. So once you get that text, you should be able to opt out right away, and still get your high-quality video.
This is a great feature for those that binge watch shows on Netflix (especially if your kids are doing this and using up all the data). As it will allow you to get more out of your data. But if you are someone that prefers high-quality video, you'll probably want to opt out of it. AT&T is likely introducing this feature as a way to manage their network. Streaming a 4K video on a smartphone is a bit overkill, especially seeing as most flagships have a 2K display at most, and a 480p stream still looks pretty good on a smartphone, and it saves plenty of data thus keeping their network running smoothly.