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Netflix Adds Cellular Data Usage Controls to Mobile Apps

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Responding to criticism over its cellular data throttling policies, Netflix has added user-initiated data controls to its iOS and Android apps. Users have the option of using the default Automatic setting (which streams roughly 3 hours of video per gigabyte of data, at a rate of about 600 kbps) or choose from 5 other options. They can turn cellular streaming off which limits video streaming to Wi-Fi connections; choose the Low (4 hours of video per GB), Medium (2 hours of video per GB), or High (1 hour of video per GB) quality levels; or simply go with Unlimited, which Netflix recommends only for those with unlimited data plans. The controls are simple and clear, and help viewers understand how much data they'll use for the time spent.

"As with all streaming, actual data usage can vary based on your device capabilities and network conditions," wrote Eddy Wu, director of product innovation at Netflix, in a blog post. "Your mobile carrier also may impact the actual data usage even if you elect a higher setting in the Netflix app."

The change is in response to news that broke in late March that Netflix was throttling its own data over Verizon and AT&T to prevent subscribers from exceeding their data caps. Many—including executives at AT&T—were angered that Netflix throttled video without people's knowledge or consent. 

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