In the latest app update for smartphones, Netflix Inc (NASDAQ: NFLX) has enabled a new option that allows users to better control how much data they spend when streaming on cellular networks. It is optional and can be disabled if the user has an unlimited plan.
Netflix announced that with the default setting, users can be able to stream about three hours of TV shows and movies per gigabyte data. This will be about 600 kilobits per second, according to a statement made by the company on Thursday.
The new feature, according to Netflix, balances good video quality with lower data usage aimed to avoid exceeded data charges that network providers can issue. The measure has been tested and resulted as the most viable option to help users with the overcharges.
Users with a more flexible data plan or an unlimited one can adjust the setting in the app to stream at higher bitrates. In addition, the option only affects those using data as the only network, but those who are streaming on Wi-Fi are not affected by the measures taken and the video quality should be as usual.
“Our goal is to give you more control and greater choice in managing your data usage whether you are on an unlimited mobile plan or one that is more restrictive,” said Eddy Wu, Director of Product Innovation at Netflix, in a press release.
Lowered quality for streams
Netflix was in the spotlight before these new measures for data control after it was reported by The Wall Street Journal that the company was unilaterally lowering the quality of its streams to AT&T and Verizon Communications customers without their knowledge.
Verizon and AT&T have stricter data overage policies than their competitors T-Mobile US Inc., and Sprint Corporation’s networks, who were having the same stream quality as usual.
“Historically those two companies have had more consumer-friendly policies,” Netflix said.
The stricter policies prompted Netflix to protect consumers from exceeding mobile data caps in those particular networks, the 82-million-subscribers-company said after Verizon and AT&T commented on being outraged for its decision.