Netflix Cutting Video Quality to Canadian Subs in Response to Broadband Caps [Archive] - Audio & Video Forums


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03-29-2011, 11:54 AM
The dominoes keep falling. Because so many Canadian ISPs have now imposed data caps on their subscribers, Netflix has responded by cutting the data stream by 2/3. While they claim that this will have "minimal impact" on video quality, 625 kbps is a crap slow data stream even with VC-1 encoding. At speeds that slow, there's little maneuvering room before the picture begins to break up and pixelate.

This move was necessitated because the data allowances for Canadian broadband subscribers are so ridiculously low. Rogers' lowest priced broadband plan only allows 15 GB/month, which Netflix's "HD" video streaming will gobble up in less than 8 hours. Compare this with AT&T's recently announced broadband caps, which allow for 150 GB/month.

Netflix subscribers can change their defaults to higher video quality settings, but that also brings risk of going over the data cap and having to pay overage fees.

This is getting to be a big-time conflict of interest. All you have to do is look at the largest ISPs in the U.S. and Canada. AT&T, Comcast, Time Warner, and Cox Communications in the U.S., and Rogers, Shaw, and Bell Canada in Canada.

What do they all have in common? They all double as pay TV service providers. And in the case of Comcast, Time Warner, and Rogers, they are also content providers. All of them have a vested interest in constraining internet TV options, and that's exactly what they're doing.

Even though I don't buy into the "cord cutting" hype that the tech press keeps pushing, erecting these kinds of arbitrary boundaries doesn't help anyone.

03-29-2011, 01:10 PM
To be fair, they're just cutting the default rate to alleviate all the bad press the service has been getting as a high bandwidth consumer. You can still select the original higher qualities if you want.

I think this probably helps them avoid customers complaining that they didn't know Netflix would send them over their monthly allowance.

Still, bad news for us. I have a fiber optic service with a 35 mbps download rate, and unlimited data through Bell. Some people are stuck with other service providers or even other Bell services that aren't as generous.