Comcast starts throttling mobile video, will charge extra for HD streams

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Comcast's Xfinity Mobile service is imposing new speed limits on video watching and personal hotspot usage, and the company will start charging extra for high-definition video over the cellular network. Videos will be throttled to 480p (DVD quality) on all Comcast mobile plans unless you pay extra, while Comcast's "unlimited" plan will limit mobile hotspot speeds to 600kbps. Only customers who pay by the gigabyte will get full-speed tethering, but the cost would add up quickly as Comcast charges $12 for each gigabyte. Comcast in 2017 began selling mobile plans with data, voice, and texting. Comcast doesn't operate its own cellular network, so it resells Verizon Wireless service.

The new speed limits could help Comcast save money on the reselling fees it pays Verizon. Comcast said it's making the changes "to help us maintain the low price point of Xfinity Mobile." While Comcast doesn't control the Verizon network and thus can't impose speed limits directly, Comcast said that Verizon offers resellers an option to limit video resolution. Comcast said that 480p "is consistent with standard unlimited plans across carriers," and that it's making the changes to bring Comcast's offerings in line with the rest of the industry. Verizon began throttling mobile video to 480p or 720p on smartphones in 2017; the system limits the amount of bandwidth available to anything identified as a video. Carriers argue that many consumers can't tell the difference between 480p and higher quality on smartphone screens.

Comcast starts throttling mobile video, will charge extra for HD streams Comcast’s Xfinity Mobile announces new restrictions on video quality and hotspot speeds (Vox) Comcast’s Xfinity Mobile to slow video streams, hotspot connection speed (Fierce)