Netflix Networks : How Slow Speeds Are Affecting Viewers

Netflix, the worlds most favourite on-demand video streaming provider has admitted to slowing mobile speeds.

The industry leading giant has stated recently that they have been restricting the quality of videos streamed, for selected mobile networks.

  • Netflix revealed that it has been capping content streamed over mobile networks.
  • Users in Australia should begin noticing the slight streaming speed difference.
  • This will affect subscribers watching videos over the 3G and 4G mobile networks.
  • Maximum speeds have been capped at 600 kilobits per second.

This is not only for Australian users of the streaming service, but for all subscribers around the world.

A Netflix spokesperson was quoted as saying “It’s about striking a balance that ensures a good streaming experience while avoiding unplanned fines from mobile providers.”

Annie Marie Squeo, Director of corporate and technology public relations, Netflix, discussed the topic in a recent Wall Street Journal interview.

Users of the service in the USA, on the T-Mobile and Sprint networks, are not limited, thanks to the two companies having a strong history of consumer friendly policies.

No slowdowns for Netflix preferred carriers

T-Mobile is a supporting partner in the US of Netflix, allowing unlimited streaming for subscribers.

Sprint on the other hand only throttles a subscribers speeds, once a users data cap is reached.

If this same scenario were to be applied here in Australia, it could in theory see Optus mobile subscribers receiving a better streaming service.

In comparison to both Telstra and Vodafone Australia, the other two national carriers.

Optus, just like the other carriers has measures in place to enable subscribers to monitor their data usage.

By monitoring data usage, Optus users are aware of when they are reaching their data limit, curbing excessive overage charges.

For a company such as Netflix, which was long the champion of net neutrality, this is a big about face.

Netflix has long been known as a supporter of internet neutrality, advocating that all traffic should be equal.

But, the net neutrality rules only apply to Internet Service Providers (ISPs), and not to content providers such as Netflix.

This information came to light in the US, as mobile network providers AT&T and Verizon were accused by users of throttling speeds on their networks.

Netflix announced that it was in fact themselves, not the network carriers who were slowing streaming speeds.

US network carrier Verizon has in the past threatened to sue Netflix, due to the streaming speeds blame game.

No complaints from Netflix customers

“We believe restrictive data caps are bad for consumers and the Internet in general, creating a dilemma for those who increasingly rely on their mobile devices for entertainment, work and more.” – Annie Marie Squeo, Director of corporate and technology public relations, Netflix

Ms Squeo went on to say that the slowing of mobile speeds by Netflix, was for the benefit of their users.

Netflix subscribers streaming content over the mobile networks, often don’t have large data allowances.

When a subscriber exceeds their monthly mobile data limit, expensive overage fees are charged.

By slowing the default streaming bitrate, when viewing videos of the mobile networks, a balance can be striked.

Netflix as a consumer orientated company, is aiming to introduce a new feature for mobile device users.

This new feature will allow users to increase or decrease the video streaming quality.

For users that like to manage how much mobile data they use each month, this data controlling feature will be welcome.

What this means for Aussie Netflix users

Meanwhile back in Australia, Optus when approached for comment said:

“We recognise the demand for streaming video content on mobile devices is changing. Optus regularly reviews its plans to help deliver the best possible offers to our customers. Optus has a range of ways for postpaid mobile customers to keep track of their usage.”

Telstra and Vodafone Australia have not yet made their positions on the Netflix announcement clear.

For Australian fans of on-demand streaming media, Netflix is probably the number one go to streaming provider.

So it might have come with little surprise, when Netflix announced their recent streaming polices.

But is the slowing down of speeds of Aussie Netflix subscribers, when using mobile data, really a bad thing?

By lowering the quality of streaming content for users on mobile data, Netflix is actually looking out for their subscribers.

The move is a win for subscribers and the company, as Netflix strives to strike a “good balance”.

Between what users want and with providing them with an acceptable streaming experience at the same time.

All while avoiding Netflix users going over their monthly data allowance and receiving large fines from their provider.

Today in Australia, the majority of mobile data traffic on the carrier networks, comes from video streaming.

Therefore service providers have to constantly balance video quality against data consumption.

When a Netflix subscriber streams video content for two hours, and the video is HD quality, up to 6GB of data is consumed.

In most cases that equates to the entire month of an average users prepaid mobile data allowance.

The good news is that for most Netflix users, the slowing down of the streaming service hasn’t been that big of a deal.

Most Aussies these days understand using more data then their allowance is a costly and expensive mistake to make.

In Conclusion

Of all the streaming service providers Netflix is no doubt the most popular in Australia.

While opponents of Netflix will say that the slowing down of video streaming, when viewed over the mobile networks, is breaking the spirit of net neutrality laws.

The fact of the matter is that from a consumer perspective, the differences are minimal at best, with all the added benefits of data control.

Most prepaid plans these days in Australia come with generous monthly data allowances.

And in a highly competitive marketplace right here in Oz, that’s a great thing.

But with HD video streaming quality options available, Netflix users can burn up data in record time.

This is especially true when a subscriber is connected to one of the 4G mobile networks.

Netflix is simply looking out for their subscribers and that’s a good thing in our view.

Satisfied users of a service provider often results in longer term revenues and less customer churn.

Here at Whatphone, we reckon that’s a win-win for all involved.


Neil Aitken

Having worked in 3 countries for 4 telcos on both voice and data products, Neil is in a position to give you the inside track. Get beyond the marketing messages to the best plan for you.