AT&T Intros ‘Stream Saver’

Taking a page from the T-Mobile playbook, AT&T said it will launch Stream Saver, an optional setting that will limit video streams at 480p quality, in early 2017.

Billed as a free, data-saving feature for subs on mobile data plans, AT&T said Stream Saver said customers will be able to turn the feature on and off, but acknowledged that the feature – primarily for smartphones and tablets -- can’t detect and optimize all video “[d]ue to the way some content owners deliver video streams.”

Similar to the T-Mobile Binge On service launched in about a year ago, AT&T Stream Saver, when activated, will recognize HD streams but cap them at about 1.5 Mbps, “which generally is equivalent to Standard Definition quality, similar to DVD (about 480p),” the AT&T FAQ explained. T-Mobile's approach, however, also zero-rates streams from a growing list of OTT video services  as part of Binge On.  

AT&T said customers will also be able to control which lines on their accounts use Stream Sarver.  They’re also free to toggle it off and stream video at higher resolutions.

Notably, AT&T is introducing Stream Saver as the FCC starts to take a closer look at the carrier’s sponsored, and zero-rated data policies. It also comes into play as AT&T prepares to launch  DirecTV Now, an OTT-TV service that will start at $35 per month and offer more than 100 channels.

 “We know our customers love to be entertained while mobile, and Stream Saver lets them enjoy more of what they love, whether it's video or something else,” David Christopher, chief marketing officer, AT&T Entertainment Group, in a statement. “And, they are in control - it's their choice on how to use this innovative feature.”

If you think imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, it appears that T-Mobile CEO John Legere would strongly disagree with you in this instance:

How do we know what @att will do (wrong) a year from now? Just look at whatever we do now & make it suck.

— John Legere (@JohnLegere) November 11, 2016

AT&T said the feature will be available to customers on its postpaid rate plans that include data, as well as its Mobile Share Advantage, AT&T Unlimited Plan, Mobile Share Value, Mobile Share, AT&T 1GB Tablet Plan, AT&T 1GB Car Plan, and Unlimited Data plan.