Netflix Throttled its Video, not AT&T or Verizon

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Accusations that Netflix content is being throttled on wireless data connections turned out to be true—but it wasn't AT&T and Verizon behind the move, it was Netflix. The streaming video company said it has been throttling video quality on AT&T, Verizon, and other wireless data networks to help keep customers from going over their data caps.

Netflix is throttling its own video streamsNetflix is throttling its own video streams

Netflix has been serving lower quality video to mobile connection users around the world for at least five years, but hasn't said anything about the practice until now. The company confirmed what it's doing with the Wall Street Journal. T-Mobile and Sprint aren't on that list because Netflix feels the two carriers have more customer-friendly policies for monthly data cap overages.

Those video streams are topping out at 600 kilbits per second, which is well below what wireless carriers can handle. The revelation comes amid the ongoing debate about Net Neutrality and accusations that carriers have been intentionally throttling Netflix's content.

T-Mobile CEO John Legere called out AT&T and Verizon last week for the lower quality video streams their subscribers were getting. Both companies denied they were throttling Netflix content, and it turns out they were right.

Netflix's self-throttling may have been an altruistic decision, but the fact that the company chose to keep quiete about the practice even while fighting with broadband Internet service providers over forced data throttling, doesn't look good. Netflix has been an outspoken advocate for Net Neutrality, and keeping quiet about its own data throttling practices when they make other companies look bad won't help its position.

Equal bandwidth for all data is at the core of Net Neutrality and is something all broadband providers should be striving for. Content providers, including Netflix, can set video stream quality as they please, but failing to disclose their own data throttling practices—especially when it makes wireless data providers look bad—looks manipulative and doesn't help promote their case.

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There isn't anything wrong with Netflix choosing to throttle video quality based on a customer's connection. The issue here is that Netflix kept quiet about the practice even when it made wireless data providers look bad.

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As my Mom said, “Honesty is the best policy.”

Paul Goodwin

I’ve heard (quite a few months back) that they had adjusted how they connect. They adjust video quality by sensing what type connection capability you’re using. If you notice, their programs always start at low quality the within some number of seconds, the quality rises. Not sure what their criteria is for bandwidth consumption and setting final quality, but they didn’t keep any of this a secret. I use Ethernet via a Roku and the quality goes very high with TWC. I’ve had more Roku freezes however since they started that.


“The issue here is that Netflix kept quiet about the practice even when it made wireless data providers look bad.”

Wireless providers don’t need any help to look bad!

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