Netflix, the world’s largest on-demand video service are continuing to grow and innovate. Netflix earlier on this year expanded their footprint to 130 countries, including Zambia.
Netflix announced new data controls for users using its mobile app. The cellular data controls are updated in the latest version of the app for both iOS and Android. The aims behind the controls are to minimise bill shock and give users a level of control over their cellular data consumptions. In the press release Netflix stated:
We believe restrictive data caps are bad for consumers and the Internet in general, creating a dilemma for those who increasingly rely on their mobile devices for entertainment, work and more. So to protect our members from overage charges when they exceed mobile data caps, our default bitrate for viewing over mobile networks has been capped globally at 600 kilobits per second. It’s about striking a balance that ensures a good streaming experience while avoiding unplanned fines from mobile providers.
Netflix before had controls that did not differentiate between access media. The data rates used to be determined by the quality of a users link and not the potential costs of the link for the user. With the bulk of the new markets being developing economies, mobile devices are the primary means for connectivity. Netflix had to indirectly solve the lack of fixed line infrastructure and high costs for connectivity. The earlier data rates were:
- Low (300MB per hour)
- Medium (SD: 700MB per hour)
- High (up to 3GB per hour for HD and 7GB per hour for Ultra HD)
- Auto (adjusts to deliver the best service based on your internet links performance)
Those data volumes ensured that only users with great connectivity and unlimited packages could use Netflix’s library. In the blog Netflix state that there are now 6 data rates:
- Off – You will only be able to stream on the device while connected to Wi-Fi
- Auto – Netflix will select a data usage setting that balances data usage with good video quality. Currently, this will allow you to watch about three hours per GB of data
- Low – Watch about four hours per GB of data
- Medium – Watch about two hours per GB of data
- High – Watch about one hour per GB of data
- Unlimited – This may use 3 GB per hour or more
At current data prices, it will cost about ZMW100.00 per 3 hours of video if you using a standard internet bundle. Still not what we call affordable. We applaud Netflix for the progress; we need our Telco’s to introduce Netflix bundles.
An operator can install an Open Connect cache server and run a local instance of Netflix. The Open Connect cache allows an operator to save on bandwidth costs by having a copy of Netflix running in their data centre. This is not the entire library but the most commonly viewed content by the operators customers. The access network (towers and radio infrastructure) is a sunk cost, that means the cost to get from their data centre to your handset will be extremely low!
Whilst we do have challenges, the solutions exist. Operators hear our call, we want a Netflix bundle