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EFF Tests Reveal T-Mobile’s Binge On Is Throttling All Video

January 4, 2016 - Written By John Anon

T-Mobile has consistently been making a number of moves over the last couple of years to distance themselves from the other carriers, moves which are said to be designed with the end-user in mind. While these uncarrier moves always generate attention, the latest one, Binge On, has generated much more attention than probably T-Mobile was hoping for.

Binge On is T-Mobile’s view of how video content should be defined in data terms and in short, exempt from data charges. While on the face of it, this sounds like an ideal solution for the end-user as they can stream all the content they like without having to worry about overages or data limits, the service has come under fire for a couple of reasons. Firstly, the notion that Binge On violates Net Neutrality regulations and secondly, that T-Mobile is reducing the quality and speeds of the videos, namely throttling video content. In fact, it was recently suggested that T-Mobile was even throttling videos from providers like YouTube, whose videos are not actually covered by Binge On. As a result, T-Mobile did recently come out defending this catchall reduction by stating that “throttling” was not a correct reference for what they are doing and instead they were simply “optimizing” the videos. The latest in respect of the Binge On saga, is that the non-profit organization, the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF), decided to run some tests using Binge On and came to some interesting conclusions. The headline of which is that T-Mobile is throttling, not optimizing, all video consumption for Binge On users.

The EFF tested Binge On “with an account that had Binge On enabled, in the same physical location and at roughly the same time of day, using the same phone” and ensuring “the phone had a good 4G LTE connection at all times“. In terms of the results, the EFF found that T-Mobile is throttling HTML5 video streams around the 1.5Mbps level and regardless of whether a device can handle more. In fact, it was found this throttling occurs whether a video is being streamed or downloaded. What’s more, is that the EFF found that T-Mobile is throttling all video data regardless of the source of the video streams or whether those video companies have signed up to be part of the Binge On (and therefore, zero rated) service. Closing out the findings, the EFF also notes that the use of optimization by T-Mobile is one which is purely designed to throttle the data as there is no actual benefits or enhancements for the end user. While that may seem fair enough, the issue the EFF have is with T-Mobile’s use of the word “optimizing” as this does imply that there is a benefit to the throttling of video data on mobile devices. From the EFF’s perspective, there is no benefit and as such, this is plain and simply throttling of data. To further highlight this last point, the EFF stated “Even the term “downgrading” is inaccurate, because that would mean video streams are simply being given a lower priority than other traffic“. Those interested can read the full release from EFF including how they tested the Binge On service by heading through the source link below.

EFF Binge on