Netflix has recently revealed that the updated version of its app for both Android and iOS mobile operating systems now allows users to control how much data the app uses, that is whenever users access Netflix using their smartphones or tablet devices. Indeed, the enhanced Netflix app now comes with a new setting called “Cellular Data Usage” which basically lets people disable the automatic, default setting, and then select either a higher or lower data usage setting as they like. Moreover, an option for unlimited data is also made available in this section found under the App Settings menu.
According to Netflix, it allows users to stream about three hours worth of TV shows and films for each gigabyte of data, by default. This is roughly equivalent to around 600 kilobits per second (kbps). The company decided to add this new setting after conducting several tests on cellular networks. Netflix found that this offered a means for providing quality video content without having mobile users go beyond their monthly data allowances or pay for overage charges.
This may have been a wise decision on the part of Netflix. It is no secret that the streaming of video content on mobile devices takes up a lot of a user’s data allotment. Despite Netflix’s massive popularity, it is not actually the main source of mobile data, at least with regards to video content streaming. Sure, it is true that 70 percent of web traffic is due to Netflix as well as other audio or video streaming service providers. But according to Sandvine’s year ender report, YouTube is the main culprit when it comes to video services’ consumption of uses’ bandwidth. Google’s video service accounted for 20 percent for both downstream and upstream Internet traffic. As for Netflix, it is responsible for only 3.44 percent of downstream traffic, and 3.22 percent of upstream traffic on cellular networks in the North American region.
Netflix has stated that the new data saver feature, now on updated Android and iOS apps, will only work when the user is on a cellular network. This means that for anybody who is tethered or streaming over Wi-Fi, they will not be able to take full advantage of the new feature. Eddy Wu, the Director of Product Innovation at Netflix, has also warned that there may be changes in bitrates over time. This is true of all streaming services -- depending on a particular mobile device’s capabilities, plus the quality of the cellular network being used, the actual data usage may vary.
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