Watching videos on a shiny and bright smartphone screen is great for those looking to catch up on those TV show episodes while commuting to and from work. However, if you like Netflix, Hulu and any other video streaming service, you know that it is only possible and logical to do watch while on Wi-Fi. Since streaming video consumes a lot of data, there is the possibility of saying goodbye to your monthly data cap in just a couple of hours – indeed, 1 hour of Netflix streaming can take up to 1 GB depending on device screen and quality. Yesterday, T-Mobile went through their latest Uncarrier initiative and announced the Binge On feature which will allow users to watch videos from selected services (including Netflix) without consuming their monthly data cap.
Of course, this announcement would not go unnoticed by the competition and executives from AT&T and Sprint have now slammed the new offering by T-Mobile, while raising some consistent concerns about video quality and, most importantly, network congestion. If you take in account that Netflix alone is responsible for 37% of all internet traffic in North America during peak times, it is not hard to figure what could happen when millions of users stream from Netflix and other services all at once, on their mobile network. "When you give people unlimited, they use it in a significant way," warned Ralph de la Vega, president and CEO of AT&T Mobile & Business Solutions during the Wells Fargo Securities Technology, Media & Telecom investor conference. Sprint CFO Tarek Robbiati also commented on the subject, asserting "I think the word binge is very apropos, it looks like a hangover is going to come at some point", explaining that the main issue with Binge On is network and spectrum capacity, which will eventually become congested, meaning that the service will probably be affected by slow speeds and other connectivity problems.
T-Mobile is not new at offering free streaming, as last year they introduced an unlimited free music streaming service that works in the same way as Binge On with services such as Spotify and Pandora. Users who subscribe to at least 3GB of monthly data will get the service at no additional cost and will be available from November 15th.