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Has T-Mobile been downgrading YouTube videos on your iPhone?

Has T-Mobile been downgrading YouTube videos on your iPhone?

December 23, 2015

T-Mobile, the U.S. “uncarrier,” is facing heat from customers concerning YouTube videos playing over its cellular data network.

Binge On (without consent)

According to an article from the Wall Street Journal (via AppleInsider), T-Mobile is accused of downgrading YouTube content by none other than YouTube itself; a spokesperson, providing comment to the publication, noted that YouTube content was indeed being downgraded as part of T-Mobile’s Binge On service, even though YouTube isn’t a partner.

Binge On works by allowing T-Mobile customers to have video content downgraded (in quality) when it’s being streamed over cellular. Through downgrading higher definition video from HBO, Netflix, and Sling TV to 480p, the service ultimately aims to save users from consuming larger amounts of data from their limited plan.

It seems, however, that T-Mobile has been downgrading “all video traffic, across all data plans, regardless of network congestion,” according to the Internet Association, rather than just partner services. A YouTube spokesperson told the Wall Street Journal:

Reducing data charges can be good for users, but it doesn’t justify throttling all video services, especially without explicit user consent.

Goodness. Though according to T-Mobile, this isn’t a purposeful act; instead, the carrier claims that a technical issue prevents the Binge On service from always excluding YouTube videos from its downgrade process, resulting in the problem at hand. The carrier added that it has addressed the issue, but noted that longer may be needed before the two companies can correct the problem.

For now, T-Mobile subscribers shouldn’t be surprised if YouTube videos viewed over cellular are downgraded to 480p. And trust us, if you own a Retina iOS device, that kind of quality isn’t going to look good. Hopefully, T-Mobile and YouTube will be able to solve the problem in the near future; as usual, we’ll keep you updated with further news as we receive it.

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