Last month, T-Mobile announced a new program that, on the surface seemed like a great deal. Following its unlimited music streaming offer, the carrier unveiled Binge On, which lets users stream video to their hearts’ content without cutting into their data allocation. But that comes at the price of quality, a price that not all video streaming services are willing to pay without their consent and is something that YouTube is raising its voice against.
Binge On offers unlimited video streaming that won’t be counted against a subscriber’s data allowance but at the expense of pixel resolution. To be specific, videos are reduced to 480p quality, not even 720p. At first glance, that might be an understandable compromise to keep Binge On users from clogging up bandwidth and affecting everyone else.
YouTube’s beef, however, is that, like many other content providers, it didn’t have any choice in the matter. It is not one of the 20 or so video streaming services that T-Mobile has announced to be exempt from the data cap, a list that includes Netflix, HBO, Hulu, and more. And yet YouTube videos automatically get throttled to 480p. In short, not only do users get lower quality videos, those videos still count against their data allowance.
Although YouTube has not yet filed any formal complaint, the FCC is already taking a closer look into T-Mobile’s rather contentious new program. Although the commission initially praised Binge On, it is now asking T-Mobile to respond to criticisms, which include making the feature opt-out instead of opt-in and not informing users of the choice they have. No formal investigations have been started yet.
T-Mobile’s Binge On does present several benefits. For example, the data usage exemption also applies to tethered connections or mobile hotspots. The carrier insists that the data and money savings features of the program is something their customers love, regardless of whether viewing quality is affected or not.
SOURCE: Wall Street Journal