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Netflix to Offer Viewer Control Over Mobile Data Streaming Rates

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Netflix has been throttling data rates for mobile viewers for years, but it's doing so for their own good, it says. Even better, it will soon let viewers control their own data rates.

Late last week, the Wall Street Journal broke news that Netflix, the leading subscription video-on-demand (SVOD) service, has been secretly throttling video data rates for AT&T and Verizon customers for years. While people first suspected AT&T and Verizon were doing the throttling themselves, the Journal revealed that Netflix is doing so to protect subscribers from overage charges. It doesn't throttle the data rates for Sprint and Verizon customers since those carriers usually don't charge data overage fees.

For over five years, Netflix has been capping AT&T and Verizon mobile data at 600 Kbps. Whether done for a good reason or not, the decision outraged many (including execs at AT&T) since it was done without subscriber knowledge or choice.

Responding quickly, Netflix posted a message to its Media Center blog the same day saying that it will soon offer mobile viewers a "data saver" feature that lets them control their own data use. That should be welcomed by AT&T and Verizon subscribers with unlimited data plans.

"We recognize some members may be less sensitive to data caps or subscribe to mobile data plans from carriers that don’t levy penalties for exceeding caps," wrote Anne Marie Squeo, director of corporate and tech PR at Netflix. "As we develop new technologies, we want to give all our members the choice to adjust their data consumption settings based on their video preferences and sensitivity to their ISPs data overage charges."

The data saver feature will debut in May.

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