Netflix Has New Technology to Beat Comcast Data Caps

It makes Netflix movies use less data.

netflix

Remember when Netflix‘s primary business was sending DVDs right to your house? Boy, that feels like ages ago. Now the company’s model of streaming TV shows and movies seems ubiquitous to customers — but for Internet service providers, it’s been a sticking point because of all the bandwidth it takes up.

But Netflix has a plan, according to this story from Variety. It’s created a way to stream video to customers that saves 20 percent of data and offers better-looking streams, the story said. The company even put two TVs side-by-side and offered a reward to any employee who could spot a difference. Nobody could.

If it’s successful, it’ll be huge in North America “where Netflix usage single-handedly accounts for more than a third of all data consumed during peak times, and an even bigger deal in all those countries with relatively slow internet speeds that the company is looking to enter in 2016,” Variety said.

It’s especially important to Comcast customers because the company has rolled out a trial program to add new fees for Internet subscribers who exceed 300 GB of data per month. The fee will be $10 for every 50 GB in data that’s over the threshold or they can pay $30 per month to get unlimited Internet service with no data caps. Although the trial hasn’t made it to Philadelphia, it has been implemented in southern cities like Mobile, Ala. Tucson, Ariz. and Fort Lauderdale, Fla.

So never fear that you’re streaming the first season of House of Cards even though you’ve seen it twice before. Stream on.

Here’s plenty more about the new Netflix algorithm, which works by allocating different amount of bandwidth to every piece of content. Netflix Video Algorithms Manager Anne Aaron said it best in the Variety story: “You shouldn’t allocate the same amount of bits for ‘My Little Pony’ as for ‘The Avengers.’ ”