A new report based on data gathered from 1,000 T-Mobile customers in the six weeks before and six weeks following T-Mobile’s Binge On launch has confirmed the Electronic Frontier Foundation’s (EFF) finding that the service throttles all video content to 1.5 mbps, but found viewers are watching video longer.
According to consulting, engineering and testing services company P3 Group, the crowdsourced data in the study “confirms the finding of the EFF that the bandwidth for the downlink transmission of any content that can be identified as video content is limited to about 1.5 Mbit/s, independent of the kind of app or service being used and independent of the underlying cellular technology.”
The study further found that, depending on the type of traffic, the available bandwidth for some apps was “reduced down to about half or even less of the bandwidth available before Binge On.”
The news comes after T-Mobile CEO John Legere accused the EFF of “stirring up trouble” with its report in a profanity laced tirade that sparked a backlash from EFF supporters. Legere later apologized, but insisted that the service “meets all of the requirements of being net neutrality friendly.”
The report indicates that all apps that download video content are impacted, including partner and non-partner video streaming apps like Netflix and YouTube, mixed media apps like Facebook and Tumblr and gaming apps, which download video ad content.
Overall, the study found that the session throughput for video apps is reduced to about 60 percent to 75 percent of pre-Binge On levels. The average instantaneous throughput of social media apps is similarly reduced to about 50 percent to 80 percent of pre-Binge on levels, but is impacted less than for video apps.
But the P3 study also found that Binge On appears to be working as intended.
According to the report, the average time spent by users in a single video app session has increased between 15 and 50 percent depending on the app, while the amount of data transmitted during a video sessions decreased about 13 percent. The biggest winners, the study found, were Netflix and Hulu with a 50 percent increase each in average user time per session, followed by YouTube with a 16 percent increase.
“Based on our in-depth analysis of T-Mobile customer usage, we see that Binge On has some positive effects on the user experience,” said P3 Communications CEO Dirk Bernhardt. “For example, T-Mobile Binge On customers in the P3 panel who open Hulu spend about 50 percent more time on it. And increased video usage applies to non-participating service providers, like YouTube, as well as to providers currently partnering with T-Mobile in the Binge On program.”
“It appears that a rising tide lifts all ships,” he continued. “Because Binge On partner traffic is not charged by volume, T-Mobile customers have more of their data plan allowance left for non-Binge On services.”