Mobile carriers throttle online videos almost all the time2019-08-20 18:12 by Daniela
A recent study has shown that all four main US carriers - AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile and Verizon - were found to be throttling video traffic all the time, instead of only when it's necessary to avoid congestion and bottlenecks.
Researchers from Northeastern University and the University of Massachusetts Amherst conducted no less than 650,000 tests in the US from early 2018 to early 2019. To compile their findings, the team of researchers behind the report collected data with the help of some 126,000 participants in 183 countries across the globe using a platform called Wehe. In all, they sampled 1,045,413 data points, with some 650,000 coming courtesy of Verizon, AT&T, T-Mobile and Sprint subscribers in the US. They discovered that AT&T throttled Netflix some 70% of the time and YouTube 75% of the time. But the same carrier did not touch Prime Video.
It should be noted that the researchers acknowledged that the dataset doesn't include information about service plans, including tiers that don't restrict video streaming or allow users to downgrade video resolution. Most operators offer unlimited data pricing plans that have different video throttling policies based on how much consumers pay. AT&T's Stream Save, for example, which when enabled caps video data speeds at 1.5 Mbps or generally equivalent to Standard Definition quality of about 480p.
In response AT&T said it doesn't throttle, discriminate or degrade network performance based on content.
"We offer customers choice, including speeds and features to manage their data," AT&T spokesman Jim Greer said in an emailed statement. "This [Wehe] app fails to account for a user's choice of settings or plan that may affect speeds. We've previously been in contact with the app developers to discuss how they can improve their app's performance."
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