MetroPCS adds charge for HD video lovers

MetroPCS' "Data Maximizer" feature keeps the resolution of mobile videos to a network-friendly 480p. Users can now pay an extra fee if they want to stream in higher resolutions. (Netflix)

MetroPCS’ just-released unlimited family plan promotion adds more competitive pricing to the prepaid scene, but users will now be charged if they want to stream HD video.

The T-Mobile brand's fresh offering includes unlimited talk, text and data for $50 plus $25 for each additional line. The “Data Maximizer” feature is automatically enabled for these plans, which throttles data usage back to 1.5Mbps. It also keeps mobile video quality to a network-friendly 480p.

It’s a common strategy employed by carriers for low-cost plans—users who take up a lot of bandwidth cost more to support from a network perspective than what the revenue their subscriptions generate can offset. And, with mobile video traffic increasing exponentially, operators are looking for ways to manage the bandwidth tsunami while they upgrade their networks—to ensure a churn-reducing high quality of service for everyone across their networks.

MetroPCS has spun its throttling as a good thing for users, noting that it “makes your data last up to three times longer.” And it has always given the option to disable Data Maximizer for free, to let those that don’t mind blowing through their data allotment the ability to get their "Game of Thrones" or "Stranger Things" fix in HD. Now, it’s no longer a free option, according to reports.

MetroPCS’ terms and conditions now read: “All current MetroPCS plans include video optimization features that are always enabled, which, when connected to the cellular network, deliver a DVD quality (typically 480p or better) video experience at up to 1.5 Mbps with minimal buffering while streaming ("Data Maximizer"). Customers may, for an additional charge, add on a native resolution video feature, disabling optimization for their device.”

As for how much that charge is, the details are scant. HowardForums users said that the charge is $10 per month, but there has been no public confirmation yet from MetroPCS.