T-Mobile's Binge On and Net Neutrality
I had a random driving thought the other day when I heard a T-Mobile commercial further pumping up their Binge On offering. How does this play into Net Neutrality?
Then I saw this meme posted on Reddit today:
Is T-Mo setting a negative precedence that I am not seeing because I benefit from it currently? I've never really ever dove into Net Neutrality because I have always wrote off the negatives and impossible. I believe that a business who asked for users to pay for preferential speeds to certain sites would never thrive. But T-Mobile is not doing that, right? They are giving away the preferential treatment.
For any not familiar, Binge On allows users to stream media from services like YouTube, Hulu, and Netflix without the data usage counting towards their usage for the month. For example my T-Mobile plan gives each user 6gb of 4G LTE data usage and then all usage goes down to slower speed. Except for the services supported by Binge On.
Interested in thoughts from different angles. What are your thoughts about Binge On?
I'm a pretty heavy pro net-neutrality wonk, but I'm also a fan of when companies give free stuff.
BingeOn is a clear violation of the spirit, if not the letter of NN, but at the same time it has a clear benefit to customers.
So yeah. I'm torn. The unfortunate bit of the entire situation is that if companies had acted more like this before, there may not have been a need for spelling out NN rules in the first place.
Free stuff is cool and all, but Netflix just went up a buck. Is this to pay for BingeOn and the like? If so, home users pay for mobile users. Who benefits in the log run?
From a c-net article: http://www.cnet.com/news/t-mobile-video-netflix-youtube-bingeon-att-verizon-earnings-subscribers/#!
"T-Mobile was quick to understand the power of mobile video to lure new subscribers. In November, the nation's No. 3 wireless carrier launched BingeOn, a video streaming program with partners such as ESPN and Netflix."
Ehhh they tried bumping up their streaming price buy a buck a few years ago, it was met with such disdain they had to revert back. It's probably just a general price increase not to pay for binge on.
I think that's a long reach conclusion at best. BingeOn doesn't give you a subscription to any of the services, just lets you watch them on their network (in reduced quality) without affecting your data cap. In a way, this could reduce the load on Netflix servers as people will be using less bandwidth, not more. But these are people who are already paying for the services.
@AlexDeGruven, I don't think that the whole increase goes straight to T-Mobile. And I didn't even think about how someone who watches on the tiny screen instead of on TV saves Netflix bandwidth. But if the BingeOn program costs T-Mobile money and Netflix is a partner, are they paying part of that cost? Maybe it all comes out of bandwidth savings and the ad budget, but it still skews Net Neutrality in favor of the big players. These businesses don't like a level playing field if they can figure how to tilt it in their favor. These are early days and they have to see what works in this environment. BingeOn may be as much an experiment in getting around an unfavorable FCC rule as it is an ad program. The goal is always to reduce competition.
As a T-Mobile customer: yay.
As a net neutrality advocate: booooooo.
Did they ever fix the Binge On throttling or is T-Mobile still just restricting your overall pipe?
T-Mobile doing it again:
Main points (one in particular in asterisks as it relates to this thread's topic):
The one thing that makes this palatable for most is that since Pokemon isn't a T-Mobile service, they're not benefitting from providing free data usage to it, except if it draws customers to them. It could be considered unfair to users of other apps - though BingeOn already covers most if not all streaming music and video services, which are the primary drivers of data usage - but it's not T-Mobile unfairly giving one of their own services priority. Similarly, it's not throttling all data that isn't BingeOn (and actually, it is throttling your bitrate if you're subscribed to BingeOn and watching video content*); everything operates at the same speed.
You can view it as "T-Mo's charging for stuff that isn't BingeOn" or "T-Mo's freeing your data by not including the highest-usage services," and both are correct. Most people are pleased with it because the motives appear customer-friendly rather than customer-antagonistic. Either way, it does seem against the traditional thinking of the law, but it does seem correct in the spirit of the law - don't charge more for higher speed or exclusive access.
*For this reason, if you have an unlimited data plan with T-Mo, I suggest going into your settings and turning off BingeOn - it was opted into by default on all accounts, and you're limiting yourself if you leave it on.
@Snarkasm are companies like Netflix and Pandora paying anything to T-Mo for being included in Binge-On? That would blur the line even more. If T-Mo is just letting users watch Netflix without it impacting their data usage, and it's not being prioritized over other traffic on the network, I'm not sure it really goes against net neutrality. I though the whole point was that a company could not pay an ISP to give their traffic priority on a network as well as an ISP charging a fee for priority on said network. Maybe I'm missing something.
Less obvious, but the information I found says no, they're not charging companies:
The problem with Binge-On is not that it provides preferential treatment to T-Mo services. It does not. The problem is that it plays kingmaker with services. Consumers will be naturally incentivized to choose the services and platforms that comply with Binge-On, leaving the unsupported platforms out in the cold. Vendors have reported it could take as much as 18 months to gain entry to the program, at which point users have long ago formed habits around competing apps. At its root, Net Neutrality simply asks that all data be treated equally on the tubes, and it's clear that Binge-On does not do this.
That's the clarification I needed. Thank you.