Verizon’s video throttling could frustrate consumers and enterprises

Video Mobile

In a world where more videos are being watched on mobile devices than ever before, Verizon’s announcement that it will begin throttling mobile videos looms as a huge step back for consumers — and enterprises.

The mobile carrier is now setting a maximum resolution of 480p for mobile phones and 720p for tablets. Verizon’s video throttling plan was announced in conjunction with the company’s abandonment of its popular, six-month-old unlimited data plan, a move that inspired headlines such as “Verizon’s good unlimited data plan is now three bad unlimited plans.” Sometimes you just get on a roll!

We can debate whether a cap on video resolution will devastate the mobile populace, but there’s no doubt Verizon’s move runs counter to mobile video consumption trends as well as the increasing performance demands of mobile consumers and employees. Mobile video views in the U.S. are expected to grow from 125 million in 2014 to 179.4 million in 2020, and to comprise three-quarters of all mobile data traffic by 2022.

And while the vast majority of videos viewed on mobile devices are accessed via Facebook and YouTube, enterprises are aggressively deploying videos for brand marketing, product demonstrations, employee training, and field repair instructions, among other uses.

Certainly in the cases of marketing and product demos, it’s unlikely that throttled mobile videos with resolution quality resembling that of a Duran Duran concert from 1981 will burnish any brand to a generation of consumers raised on 1080p and intolerant of latency, buffering, and other symptoms of bandwidth inadequacies. Likewise, digitally savvy and demanding mobile employees will get frustrated with sub-optimal video performance that makes it harder for them to learn or do their jobs.

Do a Google News search on Verizon and you’ll see the company taking a lot of hits for eliminating a popular unlimited plan and imposing video throttling. But the fallout will extend far beyond the carrier to enterprises whose video strategies and assets may now be diminished and devalued, and consumers who suddenly will find that watching videos on mobile devices is just a little less fun, if no less addictive.


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