At T-Mobile's Uncarrier X press event in Los Angeles this morning, America's most disruptive wireless provider announced yet another set of lucrative bonuses for T-Mobile customers. First, all Simple Choice plans are having their data doubled. 1GB is now 2GB, 3GB is now 6GB, and 5GB is now 10GB. Unlimited customers will also see their 7GB hotspot data double to 14GB.
What took center-stage, though, was T-Mobile's "Binge On" initiative, which will allow unlimited streaming of video on 24 services to all Simple Choice customers on the uprated 6GB, 10GB, or unlimited plans. 2GB customers, as with Music Freedom, will not be getting in on this one. How can T-Mobile offer unlimited streaming for services like Netflix, Hulu, and HBO without destroying its network? In reality, Binge On is a cleverly-disguised network optimization initiative, asking customers to give up some of their high-definition video streaming in exchange for it not counting against the monthly data meter. This technology works at the network level, so there are no device compatibility requirements that we're aware of.
Binge On-covered services will serve their video at 480p (possibly higher in the future, but it sounds like it's locked to 480p for now), instead of 720p or 1080p. This will, obviously, result in massive data savings - the bitrate difference even between 720p and 480p on a service like Netflix is not insubstantial. If you go up to 1080p, the difference may be two to three times the amount of bandwidth consumed. Binge On will also scale down the resolution of any streamed video content T-Mobile's network is able to identify as such, though non-partnered services will count against your data cap. You will be able to turn off this optimization on your T-Mobile account at any time, which will disable the optimization and then begin counting all streaming against your data plan. Here is the full list of services, which T-Mobile plans to expand continuously.
- Crackle, Encore, ESPN, Fox Sports, Fox Sports Go, HBO Now, HBO Go, Hulu, MLB, Movieplex, NBC Sports, Netflix, Sling TV, Sling Box, SHOWTIME, STARZ, T-Mobile TV, Univision Deportes, Ustream, Vessel, Vevo, VUDU, DirecTV, and Go90.
Notably missing is YouTube - one of the few streaming services that allows users to directly select their video resolution on mobile. It appears that such a feature would be at odds with T-Mobile's initiative, though perhaps Google and T-Mobile can come to an agreement to get YouTube in on the action. It's not clear if YouTube will be affected by the automated optimization that happens to all non-covered video, or if T-Mobile is not able to reliably identify it.
It appears that for unlimited customers there's really no reason to turn on the service to begin with, though T-Mobile will be enabling it by default on all accounts - presumably when the initiative launches this Sunday, November 15th. If you have unlimited data, there's nothing for non-optimized video to count against, unless you're streaming video via hotspot. So you should probably turn it off.
There are also some pricing changes and the same data doubling for family plans (good changes), and business customers will get on the double data deal as well. You can check out the full press release, below.
Los Angeles, California — November 10, 2015 — At an event held today in the entertainment capital of the world, T-Mobile [NASDAQ: TMUS] announced its landmark 10th Un-carrier move and responded directly to Americans’ surging demand for mobile entertainment by—of all things—unleashing mobile video. Beginning this Sunday, video streams free at T-Mobile for subscribers of HBO, Hulu, Netflix, SHOWTIME, Sling TV, STARZ, WatchESPN and more—with more streaming services on the way—without ever burning up customers’ high-speed data. And it’s available to all current and new Simple Choice customers on qualifying plans—at absolutely no extra cost.
On top of that, the Un-carrier today also amped up its flagship Simple Choice plan—in the biggest update to Simple Choice ever—by doubling the data at every level and cutting the cost of extra gigs. On top of that, families can now get twice as much high-speed data as before—at no extra cost— when everyone gets extra 4G LTE data. And that’s all on the nation’s fastest 4G LTE network, now reaching 302 million Americans and counting.
Taken together, today’s moves give Un-carrier customers far more data that lasts far longer – prompting T-Mobile President and CEO, John Legere to declare today “Data Day” – the day the company took its Un-carrier movement to the next level.
“Un-carrier X marks the next step in this revolution, and it is massive,” said John Legere, President and CEO of T-Mobile. “Today, we’re not only doubling your data in Simple Choice, we’re making your data work a lot harder for you! With Binge On, video streams free from 24 streaming services to start, and more to come! Only T-Mobile would find a way for customers to watch unlimited HBO, Hulu, Netflix, Sling TV and more…without eating into their LTE data, while the Duopoly is squeezing consumers with overage fees and over-buying! T-Mobile is un-leashing entertainment and giving customers exactly what they want!”
Binge On − Watch your shows, not your data
With Binge On, video now streams free for viewers and subscribers of Crackle, Encore, ESPN, Fox Sports, Fox Sports Go, HBO Now, HBO Go, Hulu, MLB, Movieplex, NBC Sports, Netflix, Sling TV, Sling Box, SHOWTIME, STARZ, T-Mobile TV, Univision Deportes, Ustream, Vessel, Vevo, VUDU—with more streaming services on the way—without ever touching their 4G LTE data on Simple Choice plans with extra data. T-Mobile is also including Verizon’s Go90 and AT&T’s DirecTV streaming services in Binge On, so even the Duopoly’s video services stream without fear of overages.
Binge On is open to any streaming video provider who meets the technical requirements, which are available online at www.t-mobile.com/bingeon. And it’s completely free for video streaming providers to join.
“With Binge On, no one pays—not the customers, not the video streaming services—and everyone wins,” said Legere.
Powered by new technology built in to T-Mobile’s network, Binge On optimizes video for mobile screens, minimizing data consumption while still delivering DVD or better quality (e.g. 480p or better). That means more reliable streaming for services that stream free with Binge On, and for almost all other video, it means T-Mobile Simple Choice customers can watch up to three times more video from their data plan. And, as always, T-Mobile has put customers in total control with a switch to activate or deactivate Binge On for each line in their My T-Mobile account. Binge On is all about customer choice.
In addition, T-Mobile is celebrating the launch of Binge On with an exclusive offer of 30% off a full year’s subscription to Sling TV’s “Best of Live TV” package available to all Simple Choice customers. And those T-Mobile customers with Unlimited smartphone LTE get a free streaming movie rental every single month in 2016 with Binge On.
With mobile video now the #1 way Americans use smartphone data, Binge On is the Un-carrier’s answer to what today’s customers clearly want most from wireless. Customers are using nearly two-and-a-half times more of their wireless data for mobile video in the last two years. But that’s nothing compared to where we’re headed. According to forecasts, mobile video usage is poised to surge more than 400% by 2020.
The old carriers are trying to exploit this trend − and their customers − to line their pockets. For carrier customers, the surge in wireless video has translated directly into an unprecedented surge in overages. Together, the carriers are projected to rake in a record $2.4 billion this year from overage penalties—up a staggering 60% from $1.5 billion just last year. Roughly one quarter of AT&T and Verizon customers say they’ve been hit by overages in the last 6 months – that’s twice as many Verizon customers getting billed for overages compared to just two years ago. Worse still, the carriers’ overages scare customers into buying more data each month than they need—only so Verizon and ATT can repossess it after 30 or 60 days. American wireless customers waste an estimated $45 billion annually overbuying wireless data they don’t use.
With T-Mobile, on the other hand, Binge On now unleashes customers to watch what they want, when they want and on any device they want—without watching their data.
Simple Choice − Now with double the data
With this explosion in data usage, a few gigs is just not enough anymore. So, in the biggest update ever to the company’s wildly popular Simple Choice plan, T-Mobile is giving families and businesses what they want most by doubling their high-speed 4G LTE data when everyone gets extra data.
Simple Choice customers still start with one line at just $50 a month for unlimited data, talk and text on T-Mobile’s nationwide 4G LTE network. But you’ll now get a full 2GB of 4G LTE data—twice the previous amount—on each line. As before, customers can still add a second line for $30 a month−but now with 2GB of 4G LTE data. Additional lines up to 12 are still only $10 per month—but each now come with 2GB of 4G LTE data.
Of course, Simple Choice customers can add even more 4G LTE data. And now, when everyone in the family gets extra 4G LTE data, families can save even more with T-Mobile’s new Family Match. Everyone will get twice as much data as before at absolutely no extra cost. They can add an extra 4GB of 4G LTE data (on top of the 2GB included), including mobile hotspot data, for just $10 more a month on each line, up to a total of 10GB per line. For families who’d rather customize their data by line, extra data is just $15 a month for each 4GB—compared to $20 a month for 4GB before—a savings of 25% per GB of high-speed data vs. before.
While the Duopoly continues to punish customers on their legacy unlimited LTE plans, the Un-carrier announced it is doubling down on Unlimited Smartphone LTE data by doubling the amount of tethered data included from 7GB to 14GB. And with Binge On, streaming video from participating services won’t eat into that tethered data.
For businesses, the pain is even worse. Nearly two-thirds of small businesses (63%) say they’re now being charged overages, and more than half (52%) of small business limit their employees’ smartphone usage to prevent overages. With the Duopoly, giving employees a smartphone is like creating an open-ended tab where employees can run up insane overages the company has no choice but to pay. With the new Simple Choice plan unveiled today, businesses get double the LTE data at no extra cost at T-Mobile, up to a thousand employees. An average small business with T-Mobile can save 40% compared to AT&T and a full 50% compared to Verizon for similar services.
And, as always, Simple Choice customers have no annual service contracts, no domestic overages and no sharing, and they get all the Un-carrier value the company keeps pouring into the plan – from Simple Global, Music Freedom and Data Stash to Mobile Without Borders, Wi-Fi Un-leashed and Binge On.
To celebrate today’s news, T-Mobile is making the fourth line free. Now, for a limited time, a family of four can get four lines for $120 with 6GB per person (24GB total) – no sharing – at just $30 per line. That’s an incredible four times the high-speed data you get at Verizon who’ll charge you $20 more, and almost five times the data at AT&T where you’ll pay $30 more—$150 for just 5GB your whole family’s gotta share. And now with Binge On, T-Mobile customers don't just get 6GB each, they get unlimited video streaming from popular sites as well.
Binge On and the new Simple Choice plan will be available starting Sunday, November 15. Existing T-Mobile customers will get Binge On starting Thursday, November 19. For more information on Binge On, see www.t-mobile.com/bingeon. For more information on Simple Choice, see www.t-mobile.com/SimpleChoiceplan or for Simple Choice for business, see:
Video streams at DVD quality (480p+) with Binge On. You may disable Binge On at any time, but will lose Binge On benefits. Limited time offers on qualifying plans. Taxes/fees add’l. Video streaming from included services does not count toward full-speed data allotment on our network. Third party content and subscription charges may apply. Once high-speed data allotment is reached, all usage slowed to up to 2G speeds until end of bill cycle. Up to 30% off selected subscription; may appear as bill credit or 3rd party discount. Free movie: one SD rental/mo. on selected service via 30-day promo code; must be in good standing on qualifying Unlimited LTE plan. Streaming services’ terms and conditions apply. See T-Mobile.com for details.
About T-Mobile US, Inc.
As America's Un-carrier, T-Mobile US, Inc. (NASDAQ: TMUS) is redefining the way consumers and businesses buy wireless services through leading product and service innovation. The Company's advanced nationwide 4G LTE network delivers outstanding wireless experiences to approximately 61 million customers who are unwilling to compromise on quality and value. Based in Bellevue, Washington, T-Mobile US provides services through its subsidiaries and operates its flagship brands, T-Mobile and MetroPCS. For more information, please visit http://www.t-mobile.com.