While many look to T-Mobile as the progressive or the "good guy" of the wireless industry, they've managed to get in trouble with the Electronic Frontier Foundation, a group of progressive advocates who are passionate about things like net neutrality, their fair share of times. The most recent controversy was over T-Mobile's Binge On video service, which compressed and zero-rated video from cooperative providers. The issue wasn't the service itself, but rather that it was turned on by default, leaving customers to either know how to opt out or wonder why their YouTube videos were suddenly lower resolution and taking forever to load. Binge On is in the spotlight again, but this time as part of a brand new unlimited plan.
T-Mobile has offered truly unlimited plans in the past, and like other carriers, has some customers still grandfathered onto them. For their latest Un-Carrier event, however, they put the concept of tiered data plans on the chopping block. Rather than truly unlimited data, however, customers got a plan that deprioritized them after 26 gigabytes of usage in congested conditions, like the older plan, and required paid addons for HD video and tethering. With the HD video move, charging $25 per line extra to get the feature, T-Mobile essentially made Binge On mandatory, and this did not sit well with net neutrality advocates.
Since net neutrality as a principle is essentially intended to keep corporate partnerships from effectively censoring the internet, mandatory Binge On, especially when it can be removed by paying, is a fairly clear step in the wrong direction. According to a technologist with the Electronic Frontier Foundation, an organization that T-Mobile CEO John Legere has butted heads with in the past, this new plan "runs directly afoul of the principle of net neutrality." The same spokesperson went on to say that the fact that customers can pay extra to disable Binge On and get normal video on their line again may be in violation of the Open Internet Order, a law enacted by the FCC that essentially states that ISPs and carriers cannot charge customers extra fees to avoid throttling based on content type or origin, or even throttle based on type or origin at all. The EFF and the FCC are both investigating this matter at the moment, and no plans for what may happen when the investigation concludes have been laid out.