Report: US Carriers Throttle Data More In Some Apps

US mobile consumers appear to experience differentiations in how their service providers treat data traffic to a much higher degree than consumers in some other countries, according to ongoing research pooled by Wehe. The project's research being conducted by Northeastern University and the University of Massachusetts, Amherst and led by David Choffnes of the former institution and centers around an app that's also called Wehe. That application is effectively used to determine when data flow slowdowns or similar anomalies occur and for which applications that happens. The most recent report shows results from 447,791 scheduled tests using specific apps and looking for differences in data handling across approximately 99,157 users who had the app installed. According to information pooled between January 18 and August 18 of this year, US carriers accounted for nearly 96.82-percent of all detected differentiations measured, mostly throttling according to the team behind the research. Of the total 22,525 differentiations noted across YouTube, Netflix, Amazon, NBCSports, Skype, Spotify, and Vimeo, those carriers accounted for 21,807 over the seven-month period.

Breaking those figures down further, AT&T and Verizon account for more than 80-percent of the deviations noted for the big four carriers - with 8,269 and 10,187 respectively. Sprint actually saw less than some much smaller providers with just 268 while T-Mobile's figures came in at 3,083. Perhaps unsurprising, YouTube is bearing the brunt of the network throttling. For AT&T and Verizon, 60.72-percent and 48.94-percent of tests showed deviation. Meanwhile, T-Mobile Tests showed YouTube differential data rates in 52.83-percent of tests involving the app.  NBC Sports and Netflix weren't far behind at AT&T with 59.04-percent and 57.38-percent, respectively. On Verizon, Netflix actually beat out YouTube with issues cropping up in as many of 65.67-percent of tests involving the app. That was followed by Amazon media at 38.42-percent. Those two applications showed data rate changes at T-Mobile in 43.45-percent and 25.24-percent of apps. Sprint's test figures, conversely, were all under 10-percent.

While the research appears to show a vast amount of throttling by network providers, the statistics also show that only around 5-percent of tests resulted in any differentiation across both wireless and home data plans. Moreover, they do not currently appear to show a direct correlation between the repeal of net neutrality regulations and increased throttling just yet. With that said, only around 29-percent of the tests took place on mobile platforms and the vast majority of overall deviations appear to have occurred in the US. So more research will likely be needed to determine whether an increase in differentiation is happening over time.

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Daniel Golightly

Junior Editor
Daniel has been writing for AndroidHeadlines since 2016. As a Senior Staff Writer for the site, Daniel specializes in reviewing a diverse range of technology products and covering topics related to Chrome OS and Chromebooks. Daniel holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Software Engineering and has a background in Writing and Graphics Design that drives his passion for Android, Google products, the science behind the technology, and the direction it's heading. Contact him at [email protected]