According to the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF), U.S. carrier T-Mobile has indeed been throttling all video streaming services for Binge On users, even though the network itself has denied doing so.
Bad, bad uncarrier
Binge On, for those unfamiliar with the service, allows T-Mobile users to have video streams downgraded on their iPhone in order to reduce on cellular data consumption, in turn allowing their monthly data allowance to be stretched even further. However, as we explained back in December, Binge On is meant to work with partnered services only; (such as HBO and Netflix). YouTube, which isn't a partner, noted at the time that its video was nevertheless being downgraded by T-Mobile for Binge On users.
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.
Following this, T-Mobile noted in a statement that it wasn't throttling YouTube, nor was it throttling any other video streaming site unjustly. Yet now, an EFF investigation into the service appears to disagree with T-Mobile's comment.
You can read through the entire article now, but the bottom line is this: T-Mobile's Binge On service is throttling all video to 1.5 megabytes per second, regardless of where the video itself has come from.
Moreover, while T-Mobile likes to describe the service's downgrade process as "optimizing" content for mobile, this isn't really the case, either. As the EFF added, Binge On uses services' own technology to downgrade video content as if the user's own bandwidth was slow, resulting in an overall poor viewing experience. For the EFF, this move violates net neutrality and the carrier must correct the issue, the report adds, concluding:
In the meantime, if T-Mobile doesn’t change its behavior then it’s up to the FCC to follow up. After all, the net neutrality rules aren’t just words on a piece of paper—they’re regulations meant to protect Internet users from precisely this sort of abuse of power by ISPs. We believe the FCC should regulate lightly, but our research suggests this is a significant consumer harm that runs afoul of well-established open internet principles. The FCC can and should step in and hold T-Mobile accountable.
As usual, we'll keep you updated with further information as we receive it.