Stanford law professor tells the FCC that T-Mobile's Binge On is illegal

Stanford law professor tells the FCC that T-Mobile's Binge On is illegal
Barbara van Schewick, a Stanford University law professor and net neutrality expert, filed a 51-page document with the FCC explaining why T-Mobile's Binge On is illegal. With Binge On, T-Mobile customers get to stream video from certain content providers without having the data used subtracted from their monthly data allowance.

In her document, Professor Schewick gives six reasons why Binge On violates the FCC's Open Internet Order of 2015. One reason is that by not deducting the data used for Binge On video streaming from the subscriber's account, it is giving Binge On providers a competitive advantage making their video more attractive than data streamed by others. In addition, the professor adds that Binge On narrows consumer choice by allowing users to watch unlimited amounts of video from Binge On providers, but not from other providers who aren't Binge On partners.

Other issues mentioned in the document include Binge On's technical requirements, which won't work with some video streamers that use different protocols like YouTube. The carrier says that these technical requirements are important so that it can know who the content provider is. But the professor says "Binge On allows some providers to join easily and creates lasting barriers for others, especially small players, non-commercial providers, and start-ups. As such, the program harms competition, user choice, free expression, and innovation."

In comparing Binge On with T-Mobile's similar feature for music streamers called Music Freedom, van Schewick says that some smaller content providers waited as long as 18 months to be included in the service, while others never heard from the carrier.

T-Mobile says that its subscribers can disable Binge On, and has made it easier to do so. To show how popular the feature has become, it pointed out yesterday that 34 petabytes (approximately 34,000 terrabytes) of video have been streamed for free by the mobile operator's customers.

The professor also wrote the FCC over what she says is deceptive advertising on T-Mobile's part. She says that Binge On is not really unlimited since users can't use it if they go over their data cap by other means. She wrote the FCC that "T-Mobile's advertising misleads customers and likely violates the FCC's transparency rule." Just the other day, we told you how a consumer advocacy group has filed a complaint with the FCC over T-Mobile's advertising.


T-Mobile has yet to respond to news of van Schewick's letter, but as soon as we hear from them, we will let you know. In the meantime, you can read the professor's report by clicking on the sourcelink.

source: vanSchewick via  FierceWireless

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