AH 2015 Youtube LOGO-108

YouTube Upset Over T-Mobile’s BingeOn Video Quality

December 22, 2015 - Written By Justin Diaz

Ever since the beginning of T-Mobile’s restructuring year’s ago the wireless carrier has been doing things to shake up the industry. From the moment that current CEO John Legere had stepped into the role, customers were in for some major shifts in what their wireless provider was about to offer them. This carried over time and time again as T-Mobile unveiled each new phase of its Uncarrier strategy, which is always some new feature or change to their plans that is normally considered as an upset to the way wireless is normally sold to consumers. First it was no more contracts, and eventually it moved onto things like Music Freedom, and most recently, BingeOn.

While BingeOn may be looked as an industry upset for the way it offers “unlimited” (meaning it won’t take away network data if you watch videos through the preconfigured list of compatible video streaming services) video streaming to its subscribers, YouTube views it as an upset in a completely different way, in that they seem to be upset about the way that it works. What many subscribers may not be aware of, at least not immediately, is that BingeOn does not allow customers to stream video without eating data at its highest quality. Instead, videos are streamed at a lower quality to forego the data cost, and YouTube complains that this is hurting its traffic.

While lower quality videos like 480p may not be a problem for some users, many likely detest the videos which cannot be played at a higher quality. In an age where we’re coming up on 4K content and more than a few phones have 2K screens, 480p just won’t cut it for a large number of users, yet this is the only way to save data through T-Mobile’s BingeOn feature. This isn’t a bad thing if you don’t mind the resolution dump, and on smaller phone screens it might not even be noticeable, albeit that will depend on the user. The more pressing issue though is that YouTube is not one of the supported video services, yet T-Mobile’s BingeOn feature is reportedly still bringing video quality down. This is where YouTube’s complaint is coming from, with a spokesperson from the company stating that “Reducing data charges can be good for users, but it doesn’t justify throttling all video services, especially without explicit user consent.” T-Mobile argues though that customers have complete control and can even have the BingeOn feature disabled, but that many subscribers “love having free streaming video that never hits their data bucket.” Whether or not YouTube is ever part of BingeOn in the future is unclear, but for now it doesn’t seem to matter as customers are seemingly getting the same results.