Netflix has become the subject of heavy buzz this week, and not due to the latest season of Daredevil (which gets two thumbs up, btw). The online video entertainment provider is drawing fire over its admission that it has been throttling video streams for its AT&T and Verizon customers for years.
The admission that the company had been intentionally throttling data on mobile devices for five years came as a result of investigations by The Wall Street Journal, who had contacted Netflix to confirm their findings. This was in the wake of claims by T-Mobile that it delivered higher quality streams to their customers than AT&T and Verizon, who denied they had anything to do with it.
For its part, Netflix stated that they have been capping video streams at 600 kbps to help AT&T and Verizon customers avoid hefty data overages on their plans. Netflix normally streams at 3 Mbps and 5 Mbps for high-definition quality, for comparison, which could consume up to 6 GB of data on mobile.
Explaining further, they stated that Sprint and T-Mobile didn't receive the same treatment because "historically those two companies have had more consumer-friendly policies." AT&T is reportedly upset with the disclosure, while there has been no response from Verizon to date.
On the surface, this admission by Netflix puts them in a bad light, given their firm stance with regards to net neutrality and their own recent moves to block proxies and other DNS services that prevent viewers in other countries from seeing their content. They made this move in January to some vocal opposition and possibly because of pressure from those companies providing content who are afraid of piracy.
Those who want to watch movies and TV shows on Netflix without bandwidth restrictions aren't left without any recourse. Netflix also stated that they are preparing to introduce a "data saver" feature on its mobile applications so users can adjust the stream quality to their liking. The change is slated to debut in May. So if you want to watch HD videos in the meantime, you'll need a good Wi-Fi connection.
If subscribers feel the need to switch mobile carriers, T-Mobile does allow users to opt out of their "Binge On" program to get better video resolution, and Sprint let go of their streaming limits last year to reduce the clogging of their networks.