Comcast throttles Xfinity Mobile customers

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Xfinity Mobile is getting throttled.
Videos played over Xfinity Mobile will appear at a lower resolution, and tethering is getting slowed down.

Comcast put a limit on video resolution for its Xfinity Mobile subscribers. Going forward, the maximum will be 480p. 

In addition, subscribers to its unlimited data plan get throttled to 3G speeds when acting as a hotspot for another device.

Although Comcast didn’t spell this out, the goal for both these moves is clearly to reduce the amount of data used by Xfinity Mobile customers.  A 480p video requires about 1.3Mbps, while a 720p one needs roughly 3Mbps.

The change in tethering speeds will slow connections down to about 600Kbps. That’s quick enough for many tasks, but not high-definition video.

Xfinity Mobile has lots of company

Comcast called the video resolution limit at 480p “consistent with standard unlimited plans across carriers,” in a statement to Engadget.  This is quite true. Some of Verizon‘s and AT&T‘s unlimited plans include resolution throttling to 480p.

 “It’s important to note that this change won’t impact video resolution when using Wi-Fi, where customers will continue to be able to stream in HD,” Comcast pointed out.

In the short term, anyone who calls Comcast to complain about this move can get temporarily upgraded back to 720p. Longer term, the company plans to introduce a plan with 720p video before the end of this year. Naturally, it will cost more.

Throttling tethering

Comcast’s move to reduce all Xfinity Mobile hotspot connections to 3G is more unusual. Some rival plans are throttled, but others allow 4G speeds until a threshold amount is reached.

“We’re setting personal hotspotting at 3G speeds for all Unlimited customers, which will allow customers to continue to do many of the things they enjoy doing online. Our By the Gig data option will continue to deliver 4G speeds for all data traffic,” said Comcast.

At about 600kbps, the things you enjoy online hopefully don’t include streaming video, as that’s too slow a connection. Still, it’s fast enough for web access and email.