One of T-Mobile’s headline features in its self-titled “war on cell carriers” is the Binge On feature, which allows you unlimited video streaming from most services like Netflix and YouTube. The tradeoff is that the video only streams in standard definition, rather than HD.
AT&T has decided to copy Binge On with a new program called Stream Saver — only, it’s missing the most important (and alluring) part of the Binge On deal.
Stream Saver, just like Binge On, caps video streaming from most every online video service at standard definition. But unlike Binge On, the data you use streaming that video still counts against your data limit. There’s no zero-rating here — AT&T simply offers this as an automatic way to ensure you use less data whilst streaming video.
Stream Saver will be turned on by default for all AT&T customers starting early next year. It should be easy for people to disable, but my inner cynic still has to wonder if this isn’t mostly a way for AT&T to reduce network congestion by subtly lowering the volume of internet traffic. To be honest, most customers probably won’t notice or care if they’re streaming Netflix in SD or HD on a mobile device, since the difference on a 5-inch screen is somewhere between small to nonexistent.
Long story short: if you don’t mind watching video in SD, you won’t have to do anything, and your data usage might be slightly smaller. If you insist on HD, you’ll need to remember to go untick a box sometime in the near future. If you were on the fence between T-Mobile and AT&T, this really doesn’t change anything.