Last week, T-Mobile CEO, John Legere took to the stage at the company’s latest uncarrier event and introduced their newest move to disrupt the wireless market. The move was the unbinding of video from data charges. As a result and with the exception of YouTube, T-Mobile customers on qualifying plans could make use of the Binge On feature to stream video from a number of major content providers for free. There were some issues however, like the lack of YouTube compatibility for instance, while there was also concerns about the reducing of the quality of videos when watching through Binge On. Of course, T-Mobile argued consumers do always maintain the option to be able to opt out of the Binge On (turning off) and streaming at a higher quality if they wanted. Albeit, at the cost of their data allowance.
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However, these were only minor concerns, as what seemed to be a possibly larger issue was how Binge On fitted in with the rules regarding Net Neutrality. At the time, it was unclear as to whether the ability to whitelist certain companies (and not others) could lead to some consumers using those whitelisted content providers simply because they were free. It was thought that this could be in breach of the Net Neutrality regulations as essentially, some companies were being given a route of prioritization to customers.
That said, if the comments made by the FCC’s Tom Wheeler today are anything to go by, it does not look like it will be a problem for T-Mobile. Following an FCC meeting which took place earlier today, Wheeler was specifically asked about Binge On and Net Neutrality and in responding, said that the service was “highly innovative and highly competitive“. Which Wheeler was making clear is in line with the Open Internet Order by the FCC that they are “pro competition and pro innovation“. Furthermore, Wheeler went on to suggest that on the face of it, Binge On does not seem to be the sort of service which would be automatically in breach of any ‘Paid Prioritization’ regulations. This is presumably, as consumers do have the option to opt out if they want to. Not to mention, that content providers are not actually paying to be prioritized in the first place. However, Wheeler did make a note of saying that they will be monitoring the service going forward to make sure there are no issues.