Why Can AT&T Smartphones Stream Some Videos, But Not Others?
Yesterday’s news of the end of the FCC’s investigation into Verizon’s policies regrading tethering and access to tethering apps got us thinking about the good old topic of net neutrality. In its purest sense, a neutral provider would take your money, get you online, and then have zero interference with what you do with that access. Wireless networks get away with a whole lot more than wired ISPs, with the reasoning that they can’t magically increase their total bandwidth, so it’s acceptable to have measures in place to ensure that service stays available to all subscribers. Yesterday’s decision, though, seems to indicate that the FCC may be getting a bit fed up with some of the liberties the carriers have been taking. We’re keeping that in mind as we talk about some problems Android users face with streaming video on AT&T.
This probably isn’t necessarily a new change, but Geek.com recently pointed out that Google Play Movies don’t work over AT&T’s data network. Attempts to watch such content when WiFi isn’t available results in a message that the “carrier doesn’t support streaming video over the mobile network.” If AT&T were blocking all such video, this might make a bit more sense, but other apps like Netflix have no problem streaming over 3G or LTE whatsoever.
We’re not ready to get all paranoid about this yet, as it could easily be a mistake with how Google Play Movies is configured as it arrives, pre-installed on new AT&T phones. At least, we really want that to be the case, as the increased efficiency of LTE networks was supposed to spell an end to this sort of restriction on streaming content. Hopefully, AT&T will have something to say about it soon.