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T-Mobile “Binge On” Video Streaming Program Accused Of Throttling Traffic To YouTube

YouTube and other Internet companies say T-Mobile is throttling their video streams–even when there’s plenty of bandwidth.

T-Mobile “Binge On” Video Streaming Program Accused Of Throttling Traffic To YouTube
[Photo: Flickr user Porsche Brosseau]

YouTube says that T-Mobile is throttling traffic to YouTube as part of the mobile provider’s new “Binge On” video streaming program–even though YouTube isn’t part of the program, according to the Wall Street Journal.

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The program offers unlimited access to participating video services–including Netflix and HBO NOW and Hulu–that doesn’t count toward users’ monthly data plans. But the streams are limited to what T-Mobile calls “DVD quality,” and YouTube says that even though it’s not participating in the program, bandwidth to its site is also being limited by the wireless carrier, according to the Journal.

The Federal Communications Commission sent an inquiry last week to AT&T, Comcast, and T-Mobile about whether their plans to exempt certain video services from data caps fit in line with the net neutrality rules the FCC announced in February. Still, while FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler has said the commission would be “keeping an eye on” the Binge On program, he has stopped short of calling it a neutrality violation, even praising the offering it as “highly innovative and highly competitive.”

T-Mobile also offers a similar program for music, including unlimited streaming of services like Pandora, Spotify, and Apple Music.

On Tuesday, the Internet Association, an industry group that includes Google as well as other video providers like Netflix, Amazon, and Yahoo, criticized T-Mobile’s apparent video throttling and praised the FCC for looking into the matter.

“Reducing data charges for entire classes of applications can be legitimate and benefit consumers, so long as clear notice and choice is provided to service providers and consumers,” the group said in a statement. “However, a reasonably designed zero-rating program does not include the throttling of traffic for services or consumers that do not participate.”

About the author

Steven Melendez is an independent journalist living in New Orleans.

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