T-Mobile’s bombastic CEO, John Legere, last week accused his rival carriers of throttling Netflix video streams to their customers. It turns out that while Netflix was indeed being throttled to those users, the carriers weren’t doing the throttling… Netflix was.
… according to a report today from The Wall Street Journal. Netflix has, for more than five years, capped its video streams at 600Kps for telecoms around the world, including AT&T and Verizon, to “protect consumers from exceeding mobile data caps,” according to the WSJ. The reason: Netflix fears customers may stop using its service if streams gobble up too much of their monthly data.
“Verizon delivers video content at the resolution provided by the host service, whether that’s Netflix or any other provider,” a Verizon spokesman told WSJ, while Jim Cicconi, AT&T’s senior executive vice president of external and legislative affairs was quoted as saying, “We’re outraged to learn that Netflix is apparently throttling video for their AT&T customers without their knowledge or consent.”
Netflix is said to be working on a “mobile data saver” feature due to debut later this year that will help viewers manage their own streaming quality to help them stay under their monthly data caps.
Netflix has long portrayed itself as a supporter of Open Internet principles, and has been an adamant supporter of net neutrality, painting itself as a champion of equal access for all, while also posing as a victim of Internet providers such as Verizon and Comcast who want to charge it extra for direct connections to their networks and customers.
However, Netflix’s stance on net neutrality began to come under closer scrutiny after it began participating in T-Mobile’s Binge On program, which exempts certain streaming video services from counting against their customer’s monthly data caps. Many see this as a net neutrality issue. However, Netflix has maintained it is a “zero-rating perk,” and not a neutrality violation.
Binge On, which throttles all non-Wi-Fi video streaming to 480p, is also causing a few issues for T-Mobile, with CEO Legere openly battling the Electronic Frontier Foundation over the issue, and the increasing probability that the FCC may take a closer look at the initiative to see if it does indeed violate net neutrality principles.