11.15.2016

AT&T will Compress Video by Default

AT&T, not the customer, will “Get the most out of your data with the new AT&T Stream Saver”


On Saturday, mobile carrier AT&T announced an “innovative feature” to be rolled out next year. The so-called feature is called Stream Saver and comes following an August announcement by Big Blue to eliminate overage fees on its postpaid plans and throttle customers who have exceed their data limit. This approach puts AT&T’s postpaid packages more in line with their prepaid AT&T GoPhone service. 

Stream Saver will be an opt-out compression of video to 480p and is marketed as “a free and convenient, data-saving feature.” The problem is that their customers may end up consuming more video content when met with their data usage figures. 

This skewing of media preference and distortion of consumer habits is at the heart of the Net Neutrality debate sparked by T-Mobile’s Binge On. The T-Mobile version of this approach to mobile video takes the matter a step further by promising “FREE to stream unlimited video on your favorite services like YouTube, Netflix, HBO NOW and many more.” 

"This skewing of media preference and distortion of consumer habits is at the heart of the Net Neutrality debate."

With Stream Saver, AT&T is a step closer to remaining the “dumb pipe” that Net Neutrality advocates believe service providers should be. America’s largest telecom talking queues from the scrappy upstart and self-proclaimed “Un-carrier,” eager to go to any length to lure customers to its service, is concerning. T-Mobile’s violations of Net Neutrality are “likely legal,” according to a Stanford University study. Since AT&T is more restrained in its offering, it can be extrapolated that it too is within the law.

All this centers around the often-forgotten fact the Net Neutrality isn’t an actual law, but merely a principle that has wide support. Even the inventor of the World Wide Web subscribes to this philosophy but until it is wholly enshrined into law, AT&T and others may do as they wish.

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