Friday, February 22, 2013

Netflix Throttling: Changing Playback Performance to Reduce Bandwidth Usage

The Problem with Netflix... Bandwidth Caps and Mobile Data Plans

  Bandwidth Caps & Data Plans

I work in IT for a living and I've recently coined the phrase, "Bandwidth is the new gasoline".  Just about every new gadget or tech related product seems to require some sort of connectivity to the internet.  Pretty soon I think it will be hard to find a consumer electronic device without some form of connectivity feature.

The entertainment industry and the business of content delivery is no exception. From online content services like Netflix and Hulu to internet connected televisions, Apple TVs and Roku boxes.  Home entertainment now requires internet connectivity too.

Your data plan is fast becoming a key indicator of how much entertainment (content) you can watch for a given period of time.

Until about 6 months ago I was using an AT&T DSL account that I used for years which had a bandwidth cap of 150 GB per month.  After adding some Dropcams and an couple of Apple TVs I began to receive warnings from AT&T about exceeding my monthly data bandwidth cap and additional fees would be applied at $20 per each additional 50GB.

Over the next couple of months I paid overage fees every month and eventually upgraded to AT&T U-verse which as a 250 GB per month bandwidth cap.

Fast forward to last week, Feb 2013, and now I have my new iPhone 5 (4G LTE) via Verizon Wireless and upon upgrading had to say goodbye to my old unlimited 3G plan.  The new data plan had data plan options in increments of 2G from 2-12GB per month and each one adding more and more the my new monthly bill.

I ended up choosing the 6GB plan and it added $40 per month to my bill, now $120.

 How to Throttle Netflix Playback

Now that I have my blazing fast LTE iPhone, and it is fast, I'm worried that watching Netflix on my iPhone will quickly burn through my 6 GB data plan.

Netflix has a potential fix for this.

From your account settings screen in Netflix:
  • Choose Manage video quality
  • Select the quality setting
    • Good Quality ( up to 0.3 GB per hour)
    • Better Quality (up to .7 GB per hour)
    • Best Quality (up to 1.0 GB or up to 2.3 GB per hour for HD)

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