If you watch Netflix on Verizon or AT&T, the streaming video service is keeping you from getting the full picture — and it claims it’s for your own good.
A week after the wireless carriers were accused of throttling video speeds on their networks, Netflix has stepped forward to take the blame for the degraded video quality. The popular streaming-video service told the Wall Street Journal on Thursday it has been slowing its video transmission on wireless carriers around the world, including Verizon and AT&T, for five years to “protect consumers from exceeding mobile data caps.”
Netflix now plans to shift some of that control to viewers themselves. In May, it expects to make a “data saver” feature for mobile apps available to some subscribers that would let them choose either to stream more, but lower-quality, video if they have a smaller-capacity data plan or to increase video quality if they have a less-restrictive plan.
“It’s about striking a balance that ensures a good streaming experience while avoiding unplanned fines from mobile providers,” the company said in a blog post late Thursday.
Netflix has been a staunch supporter of Net neutrality, the idea that all traffic on the Internet should be treated equally. That means broadband providers can’t block or slow down the online services or applications you use. It also means your Internet provider can’t create so-called fast lanes that force companies like Netflix to pay an additional fee to speed up delivery of content to you.