EFF: T-Mobile's Binge On is throttling video streaming speeds

EFF: T-Mobile's Binge On is throttling video streaming speeds
Last week, T-Mobile released a statement regarding Binge On. This is the feature that allows T-Mobile subscribers to stream video from certain content providers, without using data from their monthly allowance. In the statement, the carrier made it clear that it was engaging in "mobile optimization," and was not throttling the video streams. T-Mobile added that because Binge On optimizes video, the streams should be "just as fast, if not faster than before."

As we pointed out, T-Mobile wanted to stay away from the word "throttling" because such an act goes against the rules of net neutrality. In addition, the issue came up because T-Mobile customers wanted to know why their YouTube streams were being "downgraded" (another word that T-Mobile grudgingly said was acceptable instead of "throttling") when Google's video-sharing site wasn't part of Binge On.

Today, the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) also went after T-Mobile and Binge On. The organization confirms that T-Mobile is lowering the data speed of all HTML5 video streamed by its customers, not just those available with Binge On. EFF ran a series of tests using the same phone, during the same time of day, and made sure that there was a good 4G LTE connection at all times. Each test was run twice, one using an HTTP connection which allowed T-Mobile's network to recognize the video content and optimize it. The other test was dome using an HTTPS connection which prevented the network from optimizing the stream.

The results? According to the EFF, all HTML5 video streams on T-Mobile are throttled to 1.5Mbps speed even if the content provider is not signed up with Binge On, and the phone can stream at faster speeds. The EFF also found that contrary to T-Mobile's comments, the carrier's so-called optimization does not change the video being streamed for the better. The bottom line, according to the organization, is that "T-Mobile’s “optimization” consists entirely of throttling the video stream’s throughput down to 1.5Mbps." And if a video is more than 480p and the server involved in streaming it cannot make adjustments on the fly to lower the speed, T-Mobile customers are stuck with stuttering video that doesn't result in a pleasant viewing experience.

EFF says that T-Mobile should stop throttling the streaming speeds of providers who did not sign up for Binge On (like YouTube, for example). Another suggestion is to make subscribers opt in to receive Binge On, with the carrier disclosing that all videos streamed using the feature are throttled.

Lastly, the EFF suggests that the FCC investigate. The agency already has Binge On in their crosshairs (along with features provided by AT&T and Comcast) and the EFF says that what T-Mobile is doing results in "significant consumer harm."



source: EFF via FierceWireless

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33 Comments

1. Mreveryphone

Posts: 1817; Member since: Apr 22, 2014

First World Problems.....

2. SyCo87

Posts: 298; Member since: Sep 19, 2013

Caught with their pants down. LAIRS!!!!!

5. TheWeasel

Posts: 403; Member since: Dec 26, 2014

Ogres are like onions, they both have lairs...err...layers.

3. theguy2345

Posts: 1216; Member since: Jun 24, 2014

I was trying to watch YouTube video today with three bars of LTE, and it just wouldn't load. Now I know why. I have unlimited data too, so I don't care about saving it. This is just a scummy way for T-Mo to save a quick buck. Hopefully the FCC comes in and takes that quick stuff away. And then some.

16. elitewolverine

Posts: 5192; Member since: Oct 28, 2013

Then turn it off. I would call you a brainless FOOOL, but if you seriously cannot be bothered to log into Tmobile.com, and click on your profile and turn off binge, then you deserve to be throttled for no reason

20. SprintGuy26

Posts: 229; Member since: Mar 21, 2011

Right if u dont like it then just turn it off!!!....see if this was vzw or AT&T they wouldnt have a option for u to be able to turn on this feature...prob give u a answer like, we are now working on the issue thank you for being a cusstomer

24. joe1blue

Posts: 169; Member since: Jul 25, 2013

How do You turn it off? I'm on the unlimited plan and for the padt month or so I have been noticing a lot of buffering on YouTube even when I have full LTE :/

25. joe1blue

Posts: 169; Member since: Jul 25, 2013

Never mind I got it Lol

31. medicci37

Posts: 1361; Member since: Nov 19, 2011

Learn how to read before calling someone a brainless fool. Even if you don't have binge T-Mobile is downgrading speeds ....Dumbass

33. cfprelude

Posts: 140; Member since: Oct 27, 2011

incorrect

4. phonehome

Posts: 812; Member since: Dec 19, 2014

Because digital data transfer is a limited resource. Just like fossil fuels, as well as lobster tails at an all-you-can-eat seafood buffet.

6. mike2959

Posts: 694; Member since: Oct 08, 2011

Dad always said "if it's to good to be true, it's all BS" lol.

7. TechieXP1969

Posts: 14967; Member since: Sep 25, 2013

I watch videos on my T-mobile connection and they have always played. The only think I. Oliver now is that the audio and video don't match. I mostly just play videos that are only audio with just a generic inage. But today I. Opined that when I play a video that is like for example a music video, the. Ideology and audio aren't moving at the same pace. T-mobile doesn't have enough subscribers to do such.

8. djkhalid

Posts: 156; Member since: Jul 01, 2013

Those SOB's! No wonder a lot of times videos fail to load despite having 4 bars of LTE. I didnt even sign up for Binge On!

12. Bernoulli

Posts: 4359; Member since: Sep 01, 2012

You're signed on automatically and have to opt out from it.

17. elitewolverine

Posts: 5192; Member since: Oct 28, 2013

Simple, Turn it off. Also if I am not mistaken, all subscribers got a email and sms about the feature with a link to 'know more'.

30. ShadowHammer

Posts: 201; Member since: Mar 13, 2015

I did, and my plan doesn't even qualify for Binge On. The only thing that I think T-Mobile could have been more clear on was exactly how they were getting you 3x the video for the same amount of data. I don't recall anything in the fine print that said we throttle all video feeds to 1.5 mbps to accomplish this 3x compression. They do mention 480p, but don't explain how they limit it to that. I guess now we do know how they do that. Anyway, I'm not too bothered by it since you can opt out whenever you like.

9. ChrisM47

Posts: 3; Member since: Aug 06, 2012

People act like they're forcing this. BingeOn is an option you can easily turn it off by logging into your T-Mobile account online........ I have unlimited and didn't like the throttling so I turned it off and no harm done. Haters gonna hate.

10. sip1995

Posts: 1771; Member since: Feb 07, 2014

Is it turned on by default ?

19. elitewolverine

Posts: 5192; Member since: Oct 28, 2013

Everyone got an sms about it, turn it off.

11. djkhalid

Posts: 156; Member since: Jul 01, 2013

wow i didnt know it can be turned off. I just turned it off

14. Gemmol

Posts: 793; Member since: Nov 09, 2011

Read what John wrote

21. Deicide

Posts: 82; Member since: Jul 02, 2011

You just lost your unlimited data.

22. djkhalid

Posts: 156; Member since: Jul 01, 2013

what r u talking about

13. johnbftl

Posts: 283; Member since: Jun 09, 2012

You didn't bother reading the article did you? Even using a line that did not have the feature, they were throttled down.

15. khul00

Posts: 27; Member since: Sep 06, 2014

Don't believe you understood it, when they say providers who are not supported. It means that they still have the feature turned on, just that the providers of the videos even if they did not agree to be throttled are being throttled. The just changed the format of the video so that Binge on didn't recognize it.

18. elitewolverine

Posts: 5192; Member since: Oct 28, 2013

Binge on, once more, is not a single feature. Seriously are you guys this uneducated?! Turn it off. Also I can perform so many tests to show otherwise I wouldn't trust this single test with a ten foot pole. Especially when other sites have reported otherwise.

23. DnB925Art

Posts: 1167; Member since: May 23, 2013

I have T-Mo, let's get that out of the way first. What I don't agree with, is having BingeOn throttling video of services that are NOT part of BingeOn. Yes I can opt out of it, but they shouldn't be throttling it in the first place because they are not part of the program and I have to go into T-Mo account settings each and every time I want to watch higher quality video on YouTube, and I can tell the difference on a Note 5 between 480p and FHD. I can lower the quality of YouTube myself in settings if I want to save data.

26. elitewolverine

Posts: 5192; Member since: Oct 28, 2013

But it is not a single package...it is an ENTIRE package. You have unlimited, then you have no need for it to be on other than the free Vudu movie each month and you have to enable it all month for it to even give you a code. So for you...its worth nothing. Again BingeOn is a feature, not a SINGLE feature...SEVERAL.

27. GreatBigPhoney

Posts: 70; Member since: Jan 27, 2015

I hope they just choose to stop "optimizing" all video content not associated with the program, not because I care or have had any problems with it at all, but because I don't want the feature to be ruined for the people who like it, by the people who can't read but want to speak the loudest. They should have been more upfront about exactly what they were doing in regards to how they "optimize" the video...they already stated clearly in numerous places almost all content would be "optimized" with the feature turned on...and whether you agree or disagree with it, it doesn't matter in this aspect..it was stated. However I don't entirely blame them for not giving complete specifics, as they were trying to avoid what is happening now, but it's biting them in the butt. So just for the hell of it, here are some words that people can react to: Net Neutrality, Throttling, Lies, FCC, Unlimited, They Took Er Jahbs.

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