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Telus throttling YouTube/TikTok videos, and possible to turn off "Network Experience Optimization"?

Abacus
Just Moved In

I just had a concern I would like to voice and was also wondering if anyone else on here has experienced the same (or if not, I encourage you to try using your data and try the videos and let us know your findings). 

When I'm watching 1440p or 4K videos on any of my mobile devices on data (no matter LTE, or 5G), the videos start to buffer very very heavily, to the point of them being unwatchable. It's especially annoying on other social media apps like TikTok where some videos keep on buffering and are unwatchable as well. 

My research online has lead me to believe that something in the back end is prioritizing and throttling traffic for some reason, something called "Wireless Network Experience Optimization."

When I try contacting support, they're adamant that nothing is wrong with the network, and the issue is with my device, which I am 100% certain is not the problem (Bell sim in my phone allows me to watch exact same content in 4K without any loading/buffering issues). The agent did however restart the data on the back end for my lines, and I noticed an immediate performance boost and no buffering, until about 5 to 10 minutes later, which is when I assume the network optimization BS kicked in and throttled my data back down. So I am almost entirely certain this network optimization is the culprit, and I would like to know if there is any way at all to please disable this 'feature' so that my data isn't suffering!

Apparently this feature has been active since 2015, but I assume not many people are wasting their data watching YouTube videos in 4K quality all the time (4K video on YouTube mobile is only a recent update, too), and hence it wasn't noticeable back then, but I have a feeling it will start to get more noticeable. I understand that watching 4K YouTube videos on an iPhone 13 is unreasonable, but it is the principle that I am worried about. With SpeedTest sites showing me 500+Mbps speeds around the city, I should have absolutely no issue playing these videos at all!

So this is where I'm at right now. My ideal solution is to contact someone who can completely disable "Wireless Network Experience Optimization" from the back end on my account. Any ideas if this is possible at all or what I should do next? Should I file a complaint to the CRTC etc? 

10 REPLIES 10

Nighthawk
Community Power User
Community Power User

I can watch 4K60 on my iPhone 13 while on cellular with no issues at all. None of the streaming apps / social media apps I use have any issues playing high def or 4K video over cellular. YouTube does take a couple seconds to cache the 4K60 before playing but plays without issue for me.

 

What speed tests you are doing on your phone that show 500+mbps? I've never encountered more than about 350mbps, and that was on a very very underused cell tower connected to fibre, in the BC interior. In a few cities I've  been in, I've never gotten higher than 150mbps. Those speeds were on LTE only.

 

No, the CRTC won't do anything. They don't touch data issues. Plus it from your post, it sounds like you do still have data but only specific apps are having issues. 

 

Wireless Network Experience Optimization is also a technology in use by most cell carriers world wide and it's been in use for many years. Some providers in Canada are just more transparent about its existence than others. Telus has had it for at least 8 years now.

 

Wireless Network Experience Optimization is not likely to be causing any issues for you. It only applies to 4G connections according to the page, plus the FAQ says:

 

Only streaming Internet videos (e.g. Flash and MPEG4) and web images (JPEG and GIF) viewed with a web browser on a mobile wireless device will be optimized. Optimization doesn’t apply to downloaded files, picture or video messages, video conferencing, FaceTime, live chat, gaming, Skype or videos or images saved to your device. The level of optimization will differ depending on the video being streamed or image viewed as part of a web page. For example, videos delivered to a device with a high resolution screen will not be optimized, in recognition of the device’s ability to display all of the available image data. Streaming videos and web pages delivered to a device with a low/medium resolution screen will benefit most from optimization.

So unless your iPhone is emulating a 640*480 display, the Wireless Network Experience Optimization shouldn't be affecting it. Bell and Telus share a network as well so I'd find it odd that the issue is only showing up when using the Telus SIM and not the Bell SIM. In most areas in Canada, you're either using Telus towers or Bell towers for either provider.

 

Was your iPhone originally purchased from Bell or Telus? Did you tell tech support the issue goes away with a Bell SIM? What troubleshooting has been done so far? 


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Hmm, just as an update I went in to a corporate Telus location today and explained the issue I was having, and also how this issue is not present at all with a Bell sim. The employee opened up YouTube on his phone too and was getting the same issue that I described and said he had never known about it until I brought it up and said to call technical support and see what they can do and remarked it was strange as the speed test he conducted at the same time also gave around 200 Mbps, which is more than enough to smoothly run a 4K video. Could this be a region/province specific thing then? I'm in Toronto if that makes a difference. 

 

And nope, I ordered the iPhone directly from Apple.ca and not from any 3rd or authorized resellers either. I have contacted Telus support (over chat and over the phone) multiple times, and have explained all details to them, that the issues persist regardless of my devices, and no matter where I am in the city. I also told them that there is no issue at all with the Bell sims (they don't really seem to acknowledge anything regarding that). All they tell me to do is try the regular trouble shooting stuff (resetting network settings, turning off low data mode which is never on in the first place, restarting, etc) and then when all of that still doesn't fix the issue, they end up restarting the data on their end for my account and tell me to wait a couple minutes and restart the phone and see if the issue persists. The issue at this point goes away after they do this for a couple minutes and then it recurs again after 5 or so minutes. And this is the furthest troubleshooting that has been done so far. I plan on calling again tomorrow and doing more troubleshooting.

Something of note (and which I also mentioned to support) is that when I'm using my phone as a hotspot and play a 4K video on my laptop using the hotspot, the video loads fine without any stutters! So I'm just not sure what I should do. I have seen many other forums online complaining about this 'throttling' issue, but then I see news articles of Telus denying anything regarding that, but I just do not understand how on one network these videos load seamlessly, and then popping out the sim and putting in a Telus sim, the videos end up running very slowly. Any advice? Thanks in advance!

cybersurfr
Just Moved In

Can confirm this. Compared iPhone 11 on TELUS LTE and iPhone 11 on Rogers LTE. Stuttered and buffered on TELUS, despite TELUS having better speed tests. Telus is clearly doing QOS on the network and 4K appears to be dead last.

terra3
Helpful Neighbour

In my opinion Telus does throttle speeds when folks either ramp up their allowable data 'or' (in my case very visibly of late) achieve very good data transfers for their system above what Telus feels one should achieve.

 

My case:  had decent D/L but dismal (1-2 MBps) U/L through my ZTE hub.  Did so even after Telus installed an external antenna here.  After that they threw their hands in the air and claimed nothing further could be done to better those speeds and nothing more on offer from them.  So I turned to some tech folks I know and installed a 2nd antenna in a phased array with the first.  My D/L  and U/L was previously 10 - 15 MBps/1-2 MBps (yes . . . 1-2 MBps U/L) and after the array I achieved consistent D/L-U/L of 25MBps - 20 - 25 MBps.  It was incredible performance up to Jan 1st 2022 . . . Then sometime between then and Jan 10, D/L still impressive but U/L lost 2/3 of speed and now a very consistent 7-8MBps.  My video conferencing for work now suffering after that excellent performance after my time and financial outlay for the additional hardware at 'my' end.

 

Much too consistent in that U/L speed of late to be anything but throttling of what I'd imagine Telus figuring I shouldn't be able to have such good service.

terra3
Helpful Neighbour

. . . and today down into the 5 MBps speed range . . . . . . . . . 

 

Huge drop and consistently lower U/L performance that can't be attributed to anything other than throttling of speeds by Telus.

WestCoasterBC
Community Power User
Community Power User

Using the ZTE hub there are a bunch of factors at play including number of devices that tower is handling, bandwidth available, environmental etc since you rely on cell towers for service. Doesn't mean you're being throttled. Simple as time of day can play a huge factor.

Over the past few years of varying and troubling service, couldn't agree more.

 

But this dramatic change and incredibly consistent lower performance points to a conscientious throttling of performance.

 

I could show you a graph of the performance change that is so black and white in illustrating what has occured as of some time from Jan 1 - 10, 2022, and how immediate and consistently good the performance was as soon as I installed that phased array.

terra3
Helpful Neighbour

 

terra3_1-1641943785717.png

 

Drop in U/L speed as of ~ Jan 1, 2022 . . . . . . 

terra3
Helpful Neighbour

From sometime early Nov through to date

 

D/L.  Easy to see the exact day that the phased array antenna went in.

 

terra3_0-1641944231199.png

 

Upload

 

Easy again to see the day the phase array antenna went in

 

terra3_1-1641944293283.png

 

terra3
Helpful Neighbour

I miss the performance of that period Dec 3 - ~ Jan 1st or so . . . . 

 

Paid good money to achieve that on my own with no help from Telus.