T-Mobile confirms Binge On bandwidth throttling

As the headline states, a T-Mobile spokesperson has confirmed that content streamed from non-Binge On partners is intentionally degraded while Binge On is active. T-Mobile CEO John Legere, however, feels that its unfair to call it throttling and rejects the notion that Binge On violates net neutrality.

After reading what the EFF and other net neutrality proponents claim about Binge On, and the fact that T-Mobile agreed and confirmed that T-Mobile does actually degrade traffic from non-Binge On providers, and then watching John Legere’s video rebuttal I have to say I tend to side with the EFF on this one. Legere and T-Mobile seem to be inventing semantic definitions of “throttling” that seem to allow T-Mobile to violate net neutrality principles.

T-Mobile is in the hot seat again over its Binge On service and whether or not it violates the FCC rules of net neutrality. New allegations suggest that streaming services that are not part of the Binge On offering experience degraded bandwidth while Binge On is activated. A T-Mobile spokesperson confirmed the practice, but T-Mobile CEO John Legere posted a contentious video calling the argument semantic and asserting that T-Mobile is not throttling content.

For those who don’t know, Binge On is a T-Mobile service that allows T-Mobile customers to stream unlimited amounts of content from participating providers like Netflix and Hulu without having that data count against the data plan cap. Streaming content from non-participating providers, such as YouTube, on the other hand, still counts against the allotted data.

As soon as T-Mobile announced the Binge On service it came under fire. Net neutrality proponents scrutinized the offering and questioned whether the zero rating scheme of allowing content from certain providers to be viewed for free in any way violates the principles of net neutrality. At face value it seems like it definitely skirts the line—even if it doesn’t cross it. It seems like something that adheres to the letter of the net neutrality rules, while possibly violating those rules in spirit. The FCC chimed in, though, and gave it an initial seal of approval, so to speak.

As long as all of the streaming video traffic is actually delivered at the same speeds and there is no preferential treatment given to Binge On partners, I agree that it doesn’t violate the principles of net neutrality. However, it seems that might not be the case. The EFF has raised concerns that services that are not part of Binge On are, in fact, throttled.

According to Wired, a T-Mobile spokesperson confirmed that customer who have the Binge On service activated will experience degraded download speeds when streaming content from services that are not part of Binge On. The article also claims that T-Mobile confirmed, “They’ll also experience slower speeds when trying to download video files for offline use from websites that do not participate in Binge On, at least until the customer deactivates the service.”

That certainly sounds like Binge On partners are getting preferential treatment and those services that are not part of Binge On are being throttled. If so, that is a clear violation of the FCC net neutrality rules.

Watch John Legere’s YouTube video and decide for yourself. Does it sound like T-Mobile Binge On violates net neutrality, or do you accept Legere’s tap-dancing semantic interpretation of “throttling” that makes it OK as long as the customer can disable it? Let me know your thoughts in the comments below.

For more detail, check out the complete article on Forbes: Does T-Mobile Binge On Violate Net Neutrality?

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