Verizon Wireless will begin throttling video streams delivered over its mobile network, arguing there is “no visible difference in quality on a smartphone or tablet when video is shown at higher resolutions”.
In line with the introduction of new tariff plans, the company is limiting streaming to smartphones to deliver 720p video, and 1080p to tablets. For its most basic packages, the company is offering “DVD-quality” (480p) for smartphones and 720p for tablets.
There is no option for higher quality (4K), and users are also unable to opt-out in order to get 1080p downloads to a smartphone, for example.
The Verge noted the change will impact existing as well as new subscribers, who will be shifted to 720p/1080p regardless of what they signed-up for, or when.
While there could be some mileage in the argument mass-tier smartphones do not need 1080p resolution, with flagship devices now well into “phablet” territory and large, high-resolution, screens becoming standard, undoubtedly devices have the ability to deliver higher-quality video.
Verizon’s move follows the re-introduction of “unlimited” plans in the US market, which are being accompanied across-the-board by network management designed to reduce issues related to congestion.
A recent study by OpenSignal found speeds delivered by Verizon’s LTE network had dropped in the wake of the shift to unlimited, an issue also encountered by peer AT&T.
The Verge said AT&T also offers 480p streaming on its lowest price plan, along with a capped 3Mb/s data speed.
John Legere, chief of US number three operator T-Mobile US, accused the two of “completely choking”, stating “their networks just can’t take it”.
Ars Technica said while T-Mobile also throttles video, subscribers have the option of paying more to access high-quality streams.
With more subscribers, Verizon and AT&T are obviously likely to see a bigger impact from significant changes in usage patterns.