Taking a step back from rhetoric last week, T-Mobile CEO John Legere recently authored a blog post admitting that the carrier’s Binge On feature does throttle video traffic – even if a specific site isn’t a partner in the promotion.
Here’s the most telling part of Legere’s letter:
We use our proprietary techniques to attempt to detect all video, determine its source, identify whether it should be FREE and finally adjust all streams for a smaller/handheld device.
That’s extremely important because last week the CEO had some choice and colorful words for the Electronic Frontier Foundation which originally reported same exact fact. He apologizes to the organization in today’s letter.
Binge On allows customers to have the quality of video downgraded to around 480p while they are viewing content over a cellular connection. While 38 different video services are partnering with the carrier to provide feeds that don’t count against a data cap, a number of big names – like YouTube – aren’t. So that means with Binge On, watching a YouTube video counts against your data cap and is purposefully downgraded in quality.
Whether you want it or not
Another substantial issue is that the Binge On feature is turned on by default. When a user switches the promo off, all video traffic will count against their data cap and not be downgraded in quality.
Legere also took time to defend that decision:
We strive to default all of our customer benefits to “ON.” We don’t like to make customers dig around to find great new benefits — that is something a traditional carrier would do when they really hope you, the consumer, won’t take any action. Can you imagine the disappointment, if people saw our TV commercials about Binge On, then went to watch 10 hours of video expecting it to be free, and only THEN learned that they needed to go into their settings to activate this new benefit? That’s how the Carriers would do it, but not T-Mobile. Everyone has it from day 1, period.
That’s a great spin on the situation, but in reality the company should have been much more open and up front with subscribers and potential customers about the benefits and drawbacks of the service. And T-Mobile should let customers decide if the the Binge On benefits are worth all video traffic being downgraded with a choice to opt-in instead of opt-out.