AT&T is About to Throttle Your Video Streaming to DVD Quality

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T-Mobile’s Binge On, the opt-out video throttling service that most of us thought was shady garbage when first introduced, will now be a part of AT&T’s service under the name “Stream Saver.” The new feature will launch in early 2017.

It’s just like Binge On in almost every way (almost). AT&T is pitching it as a “free and convenient” way for customers on the “most popular plans” (including GoPhone) to conserve data. Conserving data means AT&T throttling all of the video you watch to DVD quality, which is 480p. From the press release, it sure sounds like this will also be an opt-out option where you have to turn it off to get your decent quality video streams back. I say that because it specifically states, that “Once Stream Saver is available, we will send you a message letting you know it is on and will include directions about how to turn it off and back on.” In other words, in 2017, AT&T is going to turn on Stream Saver for you because that’s what AT&T wants to do.

Stream Saver differs from Binge On in one single way, though. While Binge On doesn’t count the data gobbled up by streaming video with Binge On enabled, AT&T’s Stream Saver will count throttled video streaming against your plan.

Why would AT&T opt everyone in to Stream Saver? Probably because of network management needs. Streaming video from mobile is likely still on the rise, so by opting everyone in to throttled data, AT&T will reduce strain on its network. They likely figure that most people will be fine with 480p, not care to turn Stream Saver off, and their network will run smoother.

If you want higher than DVD-quality video through AT&T going forward, be on the lookout for that text.

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