AT&T Stream Saver Will Throttle Mobile Video To 480p By Default, Opt-Out Required

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At the start of 2017, AT&T will enable a new feature by default for customers using its “most popular plans” for mobile devices. Called Stream Saver, the feature will effectively cap all streaming video to your smartphone at 480p no matter the source.

For those that still have plans with data caps, Stream Saver could be seen as a great way to enjoy the benefits of streaming videos on the go — albeit at lower resolutions — while not digging deeply into your month data allotment. And for those that would rather stream at the maximum resolution allowed by your device, you can always opt-out by logging in to your account using the AT&T website or through the myAT&T app.

AT&T says that it will send a text message to customers (including those on AT&T GoPhone plans) alerting them when Stream Saver is available. Instructions will also be included on how to shut off the feature if DVD-quality video isn’t to your liking.

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According to Tom Keathley, AT&T SVP for Wireless Network Architecture and Design, video accounts for between 40 to 50 percent of all data traffic over its nationwide wireless network. So it shouldn’t as a surprise that the company is looking for ways to relieve some stress on the network.

“We know our customers love to be entertained while mobile, and Stream Saver lets them enjoy more of what they love, whether it's video or something else,” said David Christopher, CMO for the AT&T Entertainment Group. “And, they are in control - it's their choice on how to use this innovative feature.”

While similar in concept to “video optimization” programs that are in effect at T-Mobile and Sprint, Stream Saver still eats into your monthly data allotment, albeit slower, instead of exempting it completely. AT&T is also likely trying to avoid the same fate as T-Mobile, which has come under FCC  scrutiny for skirting net neutrality regulations with its Binge On service.