T-Mobile’s Binge On program that lets you watch unlimited video from certain content providers sounds like the best thing that could ever happen to your data plan – and it might be, especially if you like to watch videos on your phone. Who cares that the video you watch isn’t the best possible quality, right?
Even so, the Un-carrier is running into some problems with the program, as it’s facing intense criticism from Google and others. The search giant discovered that YouTube videos get throttled – something that T-Mobile calls optimization – even though YouTube isn’t included in the list of Binge On partners. Furthermore, the EFF found out that T-Mobile’s throttling applies automatically and indiscriminately to all video, which doesn’t sound very good since Binge On is an opt-out service, meaning it’s turned on by default on your data plan. It can be disabled easily, though — just follow these steps.
Facing all that criticism, T-Mobile execs including the company’s outspoken CEO John Legere came out guns blazing in defense on Bing On, arguing that special interests are at play for critics of the service.
In a short video, Legere explained the advantages of Binge On, why T-Mobile’s initiative is unprecedented and why it doesn’t breaking net neutrality rules, as critics have argued. Ironically, the video is available in 1080p full HD on YouTube, of all places. As a result, if you’re watching over a T-Mobile Binge On connection you’ll only get it in 480p quality… even though YouTube isn’t a Binge On partner.
Some customers might not care about the degraded video quality in the first place, but critics still slammed the carrier for the principle behind it and the fact that throttling seems to apply to all videos, not just content from Binge On partners.
Legere said that since Binge On’s launch, customers are watching 12% more video on mobile devices, with daily average viewership on one of T-Mobile’s top services spiking 66% among customers not on unlimited data plans. Viewing time increased by 23%, the CEO said, noting that Binge On launched with 24 partners including Netflix and Hulu. The company is adding 14 more, including A&E, History Channel, LifeTime, PlayStation Vue and others, and more than 50 service providers want in.
“So, let’s see…our customers love it, our content partners love it, anyone can join, there is no charge or extra fee, and you don’t have to do anything to get it, nothing,” Legere blasted. “And best of all, customers have complete control over how or whether to use the benefits of Binge On … and these guys are lobbying for headlines to make that sound like a bad thing. Are they crazy?? Seriously, what am I missing here?”
He went on, “There are people out there saying we’re ‘throttling. They’re playing semantics! Binge On does NOT permanently slow down data nor remove customer control. Here’s the thing, mobile customers don’t always want or need giant heavy data files.”
Legere’s video, available at the end of this article, isn’t the only response T-Mobile is issuing to Google and other critics. Other T-Mobile execs have defended the new service, and according to The Wall Street Journal they’re “baffled” by YouTube’s objection to the program.
“We are kind of dumbfounded, that a company like YouTube would think that adding this choice would somehow be a bad thing,” T-Mobile Chief Operating Officer Mike Sievert said, adding that YouTube hasn’t “done the work yet to become part of the free service.”
Here’s Legere’s new video, which will be downgraded if you watch it on your T-Mobile phone unless you follow this guide.