Netflix lowers video quality in Canada

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In an unusual move, video rental and streaming service Netflix is admitting that it has reduced the quality of streaming video it sends to Canadian subscribers — all in the name of making it easier for users to stay within broadband usage caps. Netflix says it has reconfigured its systems to consume two-thirds less bandwidth so users can enjoy more video programming while remaining under their usage caps, with only a “minimal impact” on video quality.

“In the past, viewing 30 hours of Netflix could consume as much as 70GB, if it was all in HD, and typically about 30GB,” Netflix wrote in a blog post. “While there is some lessening of picture quality with these new settings, the experience continues to be great.”

Netflix says the new configuration will enable Canadians to watch 30 hours of programming a month while consuming about 9GB of bandwidth, enough to stay under most usage caps.

Users who don’t have a problem with pushing their data caps, or who dislike the change, can reconfigure their streaming quality preferences in their accounts settings.

Many ISPs in Canada meter broadband usage, charging customers extra fees for usage that exceeds a particular monthly quota. In some cases, ISPs will intentionally degrade the performance of users who exceed monthly data caps.

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