back to article Net neut naught: Netflix throttles its own video

Streaming video titan and net neutrality champion Netflix says it will be complicit in throttling content for wireless carriers. The entertainment giant said on Thursday that it will compromise the quality of its streams at the behest of wireless carriers who place caps on user data intake. "We believe restrictive data caps …

  1. Charles 9

    Important Question

    Not being a Netflix user myself, I have to ask.

    Is this a fixed, non-adjustable setting being made on the part of Netflix, or is Netflix just setting a default option for mobile customers which customers can choose to override? If there is an option for the user to opt out, then I don't see this being against Net Neutrality. As Netflix has said, this helps prevent sticker shock for mobile customers, particularly prepaid ones, who have low data caps. As long as the user can choose to turn the cap off, I don't see an issue.

    1. BugabooSue

      Re: Important Question

      Well, as I am currently paying HUGELY through the nose for a large amount of data capability for streaming video when I'm away from home - the chances of me subbing to Netflix for these occasions have just become much less.

      I'm not impressed when it comes to watching noisy/pixelated video on large/expensive tablets.

      If you cannot turn it off or opt out, I'm going to opt out of Netflix.

      This is certainly going to be useful for some people on tight data budgets, but as usual - one size does not fit all.

      IMHO, this is similar to the daft limits Apple has historically put on file size limits that could be transferred over 2/3/4G in order to 'pacify' the networks (who are happy to sell the phones and contracts with data, but too tight to invest in the infrastructure to support the data usage they are selling! And with a bit of lateral thinking could be circumvented anyway...)

      1. Ian Michael Gumby

        Re: Important Question

        You can adjust your setting to ignore this... however... YMMV when it comes to video quality because of your carrier.

        While in Scotland, I had to rely on a wi-fi hotspot as my main internet connection, paying 30GBPs a week for data. (Yes, I used that much data on streaming for work and watching videos. ) At times, the local cell antenna got overwhelmed and dipped to 2G. (No streaming or data services.) Hotel wi-fi's ? fuggit about it.

        For those who don't live out of a suit case months at a time, Netflix and Hola can make travel a lot easier.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Important Question

      I have to wonder if they are using something like Google Analytics to help with the throttling?

      As a netflix customer, in recent weeks, I've noticed that when I try to launch a netflix show, it usually fails for the first couple of times when I try to launch, even on my home network.

      So it seems its not just AT&T but also Comcast too.

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    the shitty end of the stick!

    welcome to Britain, get used to it.

  3. Unicornpiss

    If you can opt out...

    And resume normal quality, then fine, great idea. Otherwise, incredibly stupid.

  4. joed


    As much as I dislike arbitrary decisions of net operators there's only so much wireless spectrum to share between subscribers. As long as all services are treated equally probably progressive bandwidth "tax" (throttling) is the way to go. Caps are fine (if set to reasonable levels that allow for normal/non-media heavy data usage throughout the billing cycle). Pay to play, just not twice - where both consumer and service provider are asked to pay for the same transfers (while obscuring the true price of the service).

  5. jonnycando

    Whither Internet?

    The internet is going to dry up and blow away. For between the originators of content who don't want to clog the pipe, and users who don't want to pay for a lot of bandwidth there can be no internet. I am beginning myself to think it shan't be missed.

    1. Charles 9

      Re: Whither Internet?

      And how pray shall the twain meet without some medium in between them? Mobile data is not being hampered by the Internet but the other way around, and as you've noted aerial bandwidth is physically limited AND pretty much already taken up, so how can content providers get their stuff to their unwired customers without using precious spectrum?

  6. I Like Heckling Silver badge

    If you're watching something on a sub 10" screen... then it really doesn't matter a great deal if you are watching in 480p.

    If however you are streaming and 'casting' to a larger display then having the option to adjust to a higher bitrate would be nice.

  7. Jeffrey Nonken

    Not a violation of net neutrality

    Net neutrality is about passing others' data neutrally as a carrier. Netflix is restricting their own data as a content provider. Not the same thing at all.

    The way I see it, Netflix is trying to help their customers by keeping costs down. Their mistake was not being transparent about it, and not giving customers the choice to decide for themselves. Unwise, yes, but I see no evil intent, at least not with regards to the throttling itself.

    "Netflix said it doesn’t limit its video quality at two carriers: T-Mobile and Sprint Corp., because “historically those two companies have had more consumer-friendly policies.” When customers exceed their data plans on Sprint or T-Mobile, the carriers usually slow their network connections, rather than charge overage fees." I pulled that quote from Techdirt, but I believe they were quoting from WSJ.

    It looks like they're now going to offer the ability to make the choice yourself, so that's that part sorted. If you want to boycott them for being dishonest by omission, go for it, but I don't see this as hypocrisy myself.

    1. Charles 9

      Re: Not a violation of net neutrality

      "It looks like they're now going to offer the ability to make the choice yourself, so that's that part sorted. If you want to boycott them for being dishonest by omission, go for it, but I don't see this as hypocrisy myself."

      OK. Better. Defaulting to conserving mobile bandwidth is all right as long as there's an opt out. The quote you give is pretty accurate as Sprint and T-Mobile are the underdogs of the mobile market and tend to have more aggressive offers (such as what I have now, with two completely unmetered LTE lines). Try getting that at a reasonable price with Verizon or AT&T.

  8. badger31

    My tuppence worth

    I'm an unlimited data plan with Three, 4GB tethered. It used to be unlimited tethered, too, before 4G came along as a 'free' upgrade. I'm guessing the reason is that people could use it instead of home broadband, as it's probable a lot faster for some. This must have hammered Three's network, so they would have to choose between upgrading their 4G infrastructure, or limit tethered data. Guess which one they did (#makeitright my arse).

    As a netflix customer, I'm happy to get lower quality on my mobile. It fits with my data plan an usage well. I'm not so happy that it isn't an optional thing.

    As a Three customer, I'm not happy that the poor infrastructure means it has to be this way. Personally, I was much happier with a truly unlimited 3G plan and would choose that now if it was an option.

    1. NonSSL-Login

      Re: My tuppence worth

      They slowly moved most people off that unlimited tethered plan, by moving the biggest data users first, but they never got around to changing my plan. Not many of use still on unlimited 4G tethering.

      Given that I don't have to worry about any type of data caps and the 4G and HSPDA+ network is great, I would always be using the best quality version possible. It would suck if Netflix or any other service takes that option away.

  9. RonWheeler

    They need a download option

    Even if it is too complex for we, the stupid users. Spotify and iplayer got it right.Streaming = being an ISP's female dog.

    1. Charles 9

      Re: They need a download option

      You forget that Netflix is the female dog of the content creators. Credits to milos the restrictions are at their insistence or they wouldn't offer the content at all. No downloads or no deal, get it?

      That's why I don't even bother. If I want a program and it's on TV, I just record it with my Hauppauge. That way it's out of their control once it's at my end.

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