T-Mobile has made some big changes in the last few years, but the way it manages data caps has worried some net neutrality advocates. Its last big announcement was Binge On, which exempts services like Netflix, Hulu, and others from data caps, but YouTube has now started complaining that T-Mobile throttles all video regardless of its participation in the program.
According to the Wall Street Journal, YouTube has complained that T-Mobile is throttling video services that aren't part of Binge On, and that includes YouTube. Here's the thing: while this may be news to YouTube, T-Mobile was clear the opt-out service would do exactly that when Binge On was announced last month. T-Mobile explicitly stated during its announcement that all video the carrier could identify would be streamed at a reduced quality, even if it wasn't a partner in the Binge On program. That data, unlike data consumed when using a Binge On partner's video service, would count against subscribers' data caps.
T-Mobile's Binge On feature includes more than 20 streaming services, all of which are limited to 480p resolution when the feature is enabled. In exchange, you can stream as much of it as you want. Binge On is activated on all T-Mobile eligible post-paid accounts by default, which YouTube and its allies say is part of the problem.
The real problem seems to be that customers simply aren't well-enough informed that this is how the service works. While T-Mobile made these details known during its Uncarrier X announcement, any time you offer an opt-out service, customers should get full disclosure via an official communication before deciding if they do, in fact, want to opt out, with at least a nod to the notion that there could be benefits in doing so. Instead, T-Mobile flipped the switch on the feature while touting only its benefits, and some consumers are understandably frustrated that they didn't get more information about Binge On's mechanics initially.
Here's what you need to know.
- If you have a T-Mobile Simple Choice plan, Binge On was automatically turned on over a month ago on your account.
- You'll need to go to your T-Mobile account page and turn it off if you do not want all video streamed over LTE to be compressed to 480p.
- This means that Binge On partner services like Netflix will then count against your data cap, though you will now be able to stream in HD resolutions on the mobile network when Binge On is disabled.
- With Binge On disabled, services that are not Binge On partners - like YouTube - but that are compressed to 480p regardless as part of Binge On will once again be able to stream in HD over LTE.
- Binge On only affects video streamed over T-Mobile's network, not Wi-Fi.
The FCC recently asked T-Mobile to divulge the details of its service, probably owing to complaints like YouTube's today. For now, if you want to turn off Binge On, you can find it under the media settings in your T-Mobile profile.