Comcast’s Xfinity Mobile announced it will begin throttling all of its users’ video streams to 480p resolution and its unlimited customers' personal hotspot speeds to 600 Kbps. The operator added that, later this year, it will allow customers to pay extra to stream video at 720p resolution.
“We’re making two changes to our service to help us maintain the low price point of Xfinity Mobile,” the carrier explained in a statement to FierceWireless. “First, we’re establishing 480p as the default resolution for streaming video over cellular data on Xfinity Mobile, which is consistent with standard unlimited plans across carriers. It’s important to note that this change won’t impact video resolution when using Wi-Fi, where customers will continue to be able to stream in HD. Second, we’re setting personal hotspotting at 3G speeds for all Unlimited customers, which will allow customers to continue to do many of the things they enjoy doing online. Our By the Gig data option will continue to deliver 4G speeds for all data traffic.”
Comcast made the announcement in a statement to its Xfinity Mobile customers. The full statement is available at the bottom of this article.
The statement was also posted to the website Reddit, where it elicited a number of complaints from the site’s users.
Comcast joins a number of other wireless service providers in moving to reduce the quality of users’ mobile video. Carriers argue that such throttling behavior often goes unnoticed by users, and that they can significantly reduce the amount of data traveling over a wireless network.
In Comcast’s case, the moves are likely geared toward reducing the amount of money that Comcast must pay Verizon for the use of Verizon’s LTE network. As an MVNO, Comcast does not operate its own wireless network. Instead, its Xfinity Mobile services essentially piggyback on top of Verizon’s network, and Comcast handles other elements of the service itself, such as phone sales and billing.
According to Wall Street research firm New Street, Comcast pays Verizon $5 per GB its customers use, and that rate is tied to retail rates, not fixed. Therefore, Comcast may be looking to reduce its payments to Verizon by throttling users’ video speeds and personal hotspot connections.
Comcast reported that it added 196,000 new subscribers to its Xfinity Mobile MVNO service during the first quarter, bringing its total customer base to 577,000. Those numbers were slightly ahead of most Wall Street analyst expectations.
Update on cellular video resolution and personal hotspots
We wanted to let you know about two changes to your Xfinity Mobile service that'll go into effect in the coming weeks.
To help you conserve data, we've established 480p as the standard resolution for streaming video through cellular data. This can help you save money if you pay By the Gig and take longer to reach the 20 GB threshold if you have the Unlimited data option.
Later this year, 720p video over cellular data will be available as a fee-based option with your service. In the meantime, you can request it on an interim basis at no charge.
This update only affects video streaming over cellular data. You can continue to stream HD-quality video over WiFi, including at millions of Xfinity WiFi hotspots.
If you have the Unlimited data option, your speeds on any device connected to a personal hotspot will not exceed 600 Kbps. At this speed, you'll conserve data so that it takes longer to reach the 20 GB threshold but you'll still be able to do many of the online activities you enjoy.
Want faster speeds when using a personal hotspot? The By the Gig data option will continue to deliver 4G speeds for all data traffic.
Track your data usage in your Xfinity Mobile account