Binge-On-AH-00065

T-Mobile Warns FCC: ‘Tread Lightly’ When Looking at Binge On

February 5, 2016 - Written By Tom Dawson

Will the T-Mobile Binge On saga ever come to an end? It appears that for now at least, there’s much more left in the pages of said saga, especially now that the FCC is getting involved. For those that aren’t T-Mobile customers or haven’t heard what all the hubub is about, Binge On is essentially a way for the magenta network to “stretch” people’s data allowances. How T-Mobile does this is by “optimizing” video content on smartphones, basically reducing anything that’s 720p or above down to “DVD quality” in order to make the most of data allowances. Those that are on unlimited data plans can learn how to turn the service off here.

This sounds like a great idea, right? Making the most of a smaller data allowance? Well, for those that aren’t too fussed with the overall quality of their videos, it is, but for those that care about pixels and sharper images, it’s a bit of a pain as it does noticeably reduce the quality of the videos from services that have joined Binge On. Why people have gotten themselves worked up is because the service threatens many of the principles of net neutrality, as it essentially steers people towards certain services that have joined Binge On. Why the waters are muddied in this regard is because the service is free for T-Mobile customers, and it’s unclear if the services themselves are being charged, either.

Now however, T-Mobile themselves have issues a warning to the FCC, as reports that the commission is looking into the service have been swirling for some time now. Speaking at the Open Technology Institute during an event, T-Mobile head of government affairs, Kathleen Ham, said that the FCC must ” tread lightly, and certainly more lightly than for the wired world in the wireless space — when there is so much experimentation happening, so much differentiation happening. And a lot of it customers responding to.” Ham appears to be taking a pragmatic approach to things here, and goes on to say that “We have to make sure the customer has choices, but I think it is wise to tread lightly in this environment when there is so much going on.” This goes hand-in-hand with the work that T-Mobile has done over the past few years at the end of Legere, bringing customers back to a network that seemingly had little to offer. With unlimited music streaming and now a solution for video streaming, T-Mobile openly makes users’ data go further, but at what cost, seems to be the question for now.