Netflix's recent admission that it has been throttling the video streams of mobile users in the U.S. has become highly controversial. After all, Netflix has been one of the companies that have supported federal rules that restricted Internet providers from charging websites to access users at faster speeds.
In fact, Netflix eventually became known as a video streaming firm that was a "big believer in the free and open Internet." Thus, from a general perspective, it does seem like Netflix is being contradictory to its alleged stance.
Harold Feld, a member of the consumer advocacy group Public Knowledge, disagrees with this assumption.
"I don't see any contradiction here between Netflix's net neutrality position and deciding to limit streaming speed to certain networks. Asking how Netflix can do this when it supports net neutrality is like asking why don't hockey teams use a designated hitter like baseball," he said.
Apart from this, Netflix's decision to throttle the video speeds of mobile cellular users was founded on one very notable imitation that does not come from the streaming giant at all - data caps. It is no secret that streaming video is one of the most data-intensive activities among mobile devices. Therefore, without the limitation to their video speeds, users might find themselves running out of data really fast.
According to Netflix, a full HD movie alone would consume 6GB of data without being throttled. Thus, critics of the practice are probably better off putting things in perspective. After all, without any data left to stream, users would either face steep penalties from their providers or not stream videos at all.
Apart from this, Netflix is noted as one of the supporters of T-Mobile's Binge On the package, which overtly advertises video throttling in exchange for unlimited streaming. The numbers racked up by the service alone proves that a significant number of mobile users do not mind the limited video speeds at all. Also, it is quite notable to state that T-Mobile's Binge On service did not raise net neutrality concerns when it was released.
Lastly, 600kbps is not enough to stream HD video, but it is mostly clear enough for mobile users, especially those who are using phablets to stream videos on the go. Considering the size of the screen where the videos are being streamed, the lack of full HD is quite marginal.
Netflix has also officially unveiled its Data Saver tool, which is specifically designed to protect mobile users from consuming too much data on their devices when they stream videos. Using the tool effectively keeps users aware of the data that their Netflix activities use, thereby preventing anyone from exceeding their data allocation.
Netflix has announced that the Data Saver feature would be fully rolled out this coming May.