T-Mobile Disputes YouTube's Throttling Accusations, Calls Binge On 'Mobile Optimized' or 'Downgraded'

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Last week, YouTube criticized T-Mobile's recently introduced Binge On program for throttling all streaming video to 480p quality rather than just the video of participating services.

T-Mobile has now responded to the accusations, telling DSLReports that "mobile optimized" or "downgraded" are better phrases to describe how Binge On works.
"Using the term 'throttle' is misleading," a representative tells me in an e-mail. "We aren't slowing down YouTube or any other site. In fact, because video is optimized for mobile devices, streaming from these sites should be just as fast, if not faster than before. A better phrase is "mobile optimized" or a less flattering "downgraded" is also accurate."
Binge On is a free program that allows T-Mobile customers on a qualifying Simple Choice plan to stream unlimited 480p video from 24 partners, including Netflix, HBO NOW, Hulu and many others, without using any data towards their plan. YouTube, the largest video sharing service, does not participate in the program.
YouTube, which is owned by Alphabet Inc., said T-Mobile is effectively throttling, or degrading, its traffic. "Reducing data charges can be good for users, but it doesn't justify throttling all video services, especially without explicit user consent," a YouTube spokesman said.
T-Mobile stresses that all customers can disable Binge On through their account settings, but that has not stopped the U.S. Federal Communications Commission from questioning the U.S.'s third-largest carrier and its competitors about services that allow customers to access certain content without paying for the data usage.
The FCC rules prohibit throttling "particular classes of content, applications, or services" and, should Google pursue a complaint, T-Mobile's behavior may qualify. T-mobile's apparent solution? Call what they're doing something else. T-Mobile may also be able to dodge any complaints by insisting that users can disable Binge On at any time. Google's argument, in contrast, is that the program should be opt in, not opt out.
T-Mobile says it is "looking forward" to talking with the FCC, and believes Binge On is "absolutely in line with net-neutrality rules."

Article Link: T-Mobile Disputes YouTube's Throttling Accusations, Calls Binge On 'Mobile Optimized' or 'Downgraded'
 

geoff5093

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Sep 16, 2014
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I think BingeOn is a great feature, but it should have been an "opt-in" instead of "opt-out" program. Many people are on unlimited data, so having downgraded video is useless to most of them. Meanwhile many were wondering why sites like YouTube were now buffering more and looked worse, as T-Mobile did an awful job of communicating this to customers.

BingeOn is purely T-Mobile's way to reduce usage on it's network. The problem is that your internet service provider should not be changing the quality of the content delivered to you without you either asking for it, or acknowledging it. Simply moving every one to downgraded video was a bad move.
 

PlainviewUVGF

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Oct 4, 2013
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It comes down to what the "partners" did in order to become "partners." If the partners paid a single cent to T-Mobile it's a violation of net neutrality because non partners are getting worse compression since they're not using T-Mobile's codecs from what I'm gathering.
 

lordofthereef

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Nov 29, 2011
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I guess this is pretty much TMO admitting they do downgrade al video, even for those services that haven't opted in. I am still wondering why I don't see youtube in 480 though.
It comes down to what the "partners" did in order to become "partners." If the partners paid a single cent to T-Mobile it's a violation of net neutrality because non partners are getting worse compression since they're not using T-Mobile's codecs from what I'm gathering.
Unless something privately is happening that is different from what TMO publicly released about eh program, no service needs to pay antyhing to get in the opt in list. I still don;t understand why TMO requires a service to opt in if they are just going to "optimize" all video anyway.
 

PTLove

macrumors 6502
Sep 12, 2014
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This thing is a bit much out of nothing anyway imo, since you can disable it pretty easily on your account. Granted you have to opt out of it by default, which is wrong, but having the toggle there helps TMobile a lot imo.
 

BeSweeet

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Apr 2, 2009
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Binge On was never on for me, though I have the grandfathered $20 unlimited high-speed data add-on.

Also, T-Mobile said from day 1 that non-whitelisted services for Binge On will be optimized to allow for up to 3x as much playback. Turn if off, and things will go back to normal.
 
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mattopotamus

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was it always stated as "480p" from the get go? Or is that something that added in after users noticed?
 

lordofthereef

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was it always stated as "480p" from the get go? Or is that something that added in after users noticed?
The ads and press release said 480p. WHat wasn't clear (to me anyway) was that this was ALL video and not just those services that opt in. I am beating a dead horse but I am still wanting to know why on earth an opt in is even required if all services are "optimized".
 

Zoboomafoo

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May 22, 2002
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This thing is a bit much out of nothing anyway imo, since you can disable it pretty easily on your account. Granted you have to opt out of it by default, which is wrong, but having the toggle there helps TMobile a lot imo.
What are the steps to disable it? Good design would make the settings available while you're watching the video. And there'd be clear communication of what's happening while the video is playing/about to play, too.

I don't have TMo (and won't unless someone forces it on me), but it's really easy to say go into settings and a couple clicks and it's fixed. But I'm guessing it's one setting in a hugely cluttered area. You can bury anything in there.
 
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Zoboomafoo

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May 22, 2002
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Opt-in solves everyone's issue. For those that want it, they're making a conscious decision knowing the consequences. For those who don't, opt-in means they never have to think about it. T-Moble has mad a lot of good customer focused decisions. This one, as an opt-out, not so much.
If you think they're making customer focused decisions, you've not been paying attention ;)
 

driceman

macrumors 6502
Mar 13, 2012
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I think BingeOn is a great feature, but it should have been an "opt-in" instead of "opt-out" program. Many people are on unlimited data, so having downgraded video is useless to most of them. Meanwhile many were wondering why sites like YouTube were now buffering more and looked worse, as T-Mobile did an awful job of communicating this to customers.

BingeOn is purely T-Mobile's way to reduce usage on it's network. The problem is that your internet service provider should not be changing the quality of the content delivered to you without you either asking for it, or acknowledging it. Simply moving every one to downgraded video was a bad move.
To be fair, unlimited data customers using Binge On on T-Mobile get a free movie rental each month from Sling. Still, I see your point that opting in might have been a better choice than opting out.
 

lordofthereef

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What are the steps to disable it? Good design would make the settings available while you're watching the video. And there'd be clear communication of what's happening while the video is playing/about to play, too.

I don't have TMo (and won't unless someone forces it on me), but it's really easy to say go into settings and a couple clicks and it's fixed. But I'm guessing it's one setting in a hugely cluttered area. You can bury anything in there.
You need to log into your account or call TMO to disable it. I agree with your good design statement, but that would require either Apple build it into iOS UI (doubltful) or the content provider buiding it into their ap (also doubtful).

Off by default and sending a few free reminder texts about Binge On options seemlike they would be much more beneificial (and easier to accomplish) IMO.
 
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driceman

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Mar 13, 2012
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What are the steps to disable it? Good design would make the settings available while you're watching the video. And there'd be clear communication of what's happening while the video is playing/about to play, too.

I don't have TMo (and won't unless someone forces it on me), but it's really easy to say go into settings and a couple clicks and it's fixed. But I'm guessing it's one setting in a hugely cluttered area. You can bury anything in there.
1. Log into My T-Mobile on T-Mobile.com.
2. Click Profile in the top navigation bar.
3. Click Media Settings on the sidebar.
4. Click the Binge On switch to flip it to "off."

Reasonably easy to find, although I have mixed feelings about it being on a per-line basis. I get that the point is to allow each individual to pick which setting they prefer, but if you have a 5-line account you have to toggle it off on each line (there's a drop down menu on the Profile page that shows all of the lines on the account).

Since this isn't costing anyone extra money, you can toggle it on or off whenever you want, and most customers don't really notice the difference, I don't know why this is such a huge deal. But people love to complain.
 

lordofthereef

macrumors G5
Nov 29, 2011
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If you think they're making customer focused decisions, you've not been paying attention ;)
It's customer focused in the sense that they are actually making changes that (most) customers are happy with. Every company is always looking at their bottom line.To not do that is either being a charity, or foolish (or both).
 

Zoboomafoo

macrumors 6502
May 22, 2002
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I really don't get how this qualifies as Apple news or a "mac rumor". Anyone care to explain?
1) Ugh. Go away.
2) I *think* Apple makes stuff whose features are supported by T-Mobile. A fone? phon? What's it called? I forget.
 
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iOSFangirl6001

macrumors 6502
Aug 11, 2015
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Of course T-Mobile denies/disputes this.

When has ANY Telecom ever just owned or fessed up to even the faintest hint of any wrong doing, error, mistake, miscommunication , bad PR move, or just plain admitted they could've done or conveyed something better without some sort of prodding?


At the very least hope big brother at the FCC Scolds them
 
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JohnApples

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Mar 7, 2014
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The ads and press release said 480p. WHat wasn't clear (to me anyway) was that this was ALL video and not just those services that opt in. I am beating a dead horse but I am still wanting to know why on earth an opt in is even required if all services are "optimized".
They did state from the beginning that all video would be "optimized", although it was buried away in an FAQ I believe. They should have made it more clear.

Other than this, I guess I really don't see what the fuss is about. I get to watch video that doesn't eat up my data. While I could say that "480p is in unacceptable in 2015", in all honesty I cannot tell the difference between SD and HD on my phone unless I'm nose-length away.

Yeah, I kinda agree it should have been an opt-in feature instead of opt-out. Though I can totally see people signing up with T-Mobile, not opting-in, and then raising a ****storm because watching video had eaten up all their data.
 

dwsolberg

macrumors 6502a
Dec 17, 2003
703
473
Nothing is without drawbacks. I'm using T-Mobile, and to me the ability to pretty much view unlimited video is worth slightly degraded quality on my relatively small iPhone 6s screen. At least they're honest about what they did, and I think for the majority of people, it's a better deal to have the ability to stream lots of content, so opt-out makes sense.
 

kc2kth

macrumors member
Aug 27, 2009
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I guess I'm in the minority here but I'm agreeing with TMob based on their explanation. However I'll also agree they probably didn't do a good enough job communicating this as there is so much confusion. Net-neutrality is about leveling the playing field from a bandwidth perspective regardless of what that content is. TMob isn't doing anything to restrict bandwidth here. Instead they are optimizing traffic by admittedly reducing the quality of the content while still providing the more technically inclined end user to opt in to a higher quality experience, which TMob should certainly be able to charge more for. Considering TMob's user base (those who likely can't or don't want to spend heavily on mobile and are likely less technical and more frugal by nature) and position as a discount provider this entire situation seems perfectly in line.