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Report: Binge On provides T-Mobile customers with "lower quality videos and unexpected charges"

Report: Binge On provides T-Mobile customers with "lower quality videos and unexpected charges"
A study completed by Northeastern University of T-Mobile's Binge On feature says that the carrier is actually providing its customers with "lower-quality videos and unexpected charges," according to the report. Introduced last November, Binge On allows T-Mobile customers to stream videos from nearly 90 providers without  using their high-speed data. T-Mobile says that the video is presented in 480p (DVD quality) and subscribers can disable the feature, although that would make them responsible for all of the high-speed data used while watching video. Binge On is the most popular of the 11 Un-carrier features announced by the nation's third largest carrier.

David Choffnes, the researcher who led the team that wrote the report, claims that Binge On violates net neutrality because it slows down video from one provider while other providers are not affected. The report says that this is unfair to the provider whose videos are slowed down. For its part, T-Mobile has always dismissed the entire net neutrality issue by pointing out that its subscribers can always disable the feature. But Choffnes argues that Binge On is turned by default. The researcher says that this is unfair because not every T-Mobile subscriber is knowledgeable enough to figure out how to disable the feature.

The report also takes issue with the throttling that he says T-Mobile does to some providers' video streams. According to Choffnes, video from providers who haven't opted in or out to Binge On is given reduced bandwidth when being sent to T-Mobile subscribers. Since video from these providers isn't part of the Un-carrier feature, the report claims that T-Mobile subscribers end up using their high-speed data for this lower quality video stream.

More damaging to T-Mobile was the researcher's discovery that while using Binge On, YouTube was streamed in 360p resolution. When the feature was disabled, resolution went up to 1080p (FHD) resolution. The report says that according to T-Mobile, 480p is available for Binge On, but only when a specific Android device is employed, and only for specific providers. We have to admit that this is the first we've heard about only one Android model providing 480p streams for Binge On, in light of previous comments made by T-Mobile CEO John Legere; in the past, the executive has brought up the 480p DVD quality video for the service.

Lastly, Choffnes questions what his report calls T-Mobile's "simple" detection process that is used to separate a Binge On provider's video streams from a non-provider's video. In one case, he says that his team found a Binge On provider whose videos were labeled incorrectly allowing it to stream in HD by mistake. The researcher also says that T-Mobile subscribers can game the system so that non video content can be used without it counting against their high-speed data. The Northeastern University research team was able to develop software that allowed any web content to be viewed for free. "We realized we could make any network traffic zero rated by just putting the right text in the right place. That is a security vulnerability—it's potentially an open cash register that people can take from," said the researcher.


No doubt we will get a statement soon from T-Mobile. When we do, we will pass it along to you.

source: Phys.org via BGR

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