The FCC may want a closer look at T-Mobile’s Binge On program and how the Un-Carrier handles video streaming over its network.
According to the tech research site Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF), T-Mobile is actually throttling all video traffic over its network for those with Binge On enabled and not just content from providers that are participating in the Binge On program.
Binge On is one of T-Mobile’s Un-Carrier initiatives and allows users to stream video from participating providers for free without that data counting against a customers data cap. All T-Mobile customers are enrolled in the service but they can opt out of the service if they wish.
T-Mobile has already said that it uses video optimization technology that compresses content for streaming over the network, which the company claims helps customers “stretch their high-speed data while streaming video.”
EFF took the time to test streaming some video over T-Mobile’s network from various devices and found that when Binge On is enabled, T-Mobile throttles all HTML5 video streams to about 1.5 Mbps regardless of whether the provider is a participant in the program.
EFF also proposes that “optimization” may be a stretch, arguing that the quality of the video is not actually improved with the technology.
“If the video is more than 480p and the server sending the video doesn’t have a way to reduce or adapt the bitrate of the video as it’s being streamed, the result is stuttering and uneven streaming—exactly the opposite of the experience T-Mobile claims their “optimization” will have,” EFF’s Jeremy Gillula wrote in a report of the testing.
The report is significant as it relates to the FCC’s net neutrality rules, which state that ISPs “shall not impair or degrade lawful Internet traffic on the basis of Internet content, application, or service…subject to reasonable network management.”
The FCC has already said that it will evaluate instances of abuse on a case by case basis. Commission Chairman Tom Wheeler has called Binge On “highly innovative” but has also said he will be keeping a close eye on the service.