T-Mobile throttling video content and reducing quality: YouTube

T-Mobile throttling video content and reducing quality: YouTube

Alphabet’s YouTube has blamed telecom operator T-Mobile for throttling its videos for mobile customers. T-Mobile recently introduced Binge On service for its customers and YouTube has claimed that T-Mobile is deliberately slowing down streaming of video content on its network. T-Mobile responded to YouTube’s claims by saying that Binge On service is totally under control of customers.

Customers can turn on or off the service at will. Binge On service delivers video content at slightly lower quality but the data consumed by customers using Binge On is not counted towards the data allocated in their plan. YouTube said that T-Mobile has lowered the video content quality, which was not as per the conditions of the program.

YouTube blamed T-Mobile for deliberately degrading its traffic. YouTube spokesman said, “Reducing data charges can be good for users, but it doesn’t justify throttling all video services, especially without explicit user consent.”

As customers have the choice to use free service and get lower quality or pay for data and get better quality videos, T-Mobile doesn’t see any problem in the terms of Binge On service. T-Mobile is the third largest telecom service provider in the United States. The company has introduced many industry-first initiatives and has grown rapidly due to its aggressive marketing.

According to T-Mobile, 24 content providers have joined its Binge On service platform including NetFlix and HBO streaming service. However, YouTube is still not a part of the program.

Streaming video eats up a lot of data on a phone. An hour of high-definition video can use nearly 1 gigabyte.

With Binge On, video streams from 24 services, including Netflix, Hulu and ESPN, don’t count toward T-Mobile’s data caps. The company also degrades all video — even from providers that aren’t part of Binge On. T-Mobile offers DVD-level quality, which is less than high definition.

T-Mobile says it’s not charging companies to participate. As for YouTube and Facebook, T-Mobile says it can’t identify in all instances in which they’re delivering video rather than some other kind of content. The company says it’s working to add more companies to Binge On.

"T-Mobile's new 'streaming optimization' program appears to involve throttling of all video traffic, across all data plans, regardless of network congestion," said Internet Association president and CEO Michael Beckerman in a statement yesterday.

He added that his organization welcomes the FCC's inquiry, which is looking at T-Mobile's Binge On as well similar offerings by AT&T and Comcast.

Last week, FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler said the agency sent letters to T-Mobile, Comcast Corp. and AT&T Inc. to get more information about new services they are offering. He said the inquiries weren’t a formal investigation but the letters cite critics’ concerns over the practices.

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