Home - , , , - T-Mobile Says YouTube Videos are 'Optimized,' Not Throttled

T-Mobile Says YouTube Videos are 'Optimized,' Not Throttled

When T-Mobile announced its Binge On program, they had hoped to persuade more customers to make the switch from other carriers. And really, Binge On is a great way for users to enjoy watching videos on their device without worrying about reaching their monthly data cap. Well, this isn't something net neutrality supporters are happy with. Not to mention, YouTube has complained that the "Un-carrier" was throttling its videos despite it not being part of the entire program.

In response to this, a representative from the carrier says that the term used, "throttle," can be misleading. They share that they are not slowing down videos from YouTube or any other site that's not part of the Binge On program. Instead, they prefer the phrase 'mobile optimized' or even 'downgraded' as these are more accurate for video streaming with Binge On.

See, what happens with T-Mobile subscribers is that Binge On is (by default) activated on all devices. So even if you don't want to use Binge On, you'd have to manually switch it off from your device. With the program turned on, you won't be able to enjoy watching 4K YouTube videos on your device. Instead, these videos will be pushed back at 480p quality.

While it's great that T-Mobile has its customers' best interests in mind (by activating Binge On by default and all), it's not something everyone wants. With Binge On activated, data charges can be reduced greatly when viewing content from its partners such as Netflix, HBO, and Hulu. However, it shouldn't throttle ALL video services; even those that are not part of the program and without user consent. Google believes Binge On should be an opt-in service instead of one that you'd have to opt-out of.

As for what the FCC has to say about this whole issue, it hasn't enacted on anything yet. It can be argued that T-Mobile has specifically violated its rules on net neutrality but that will be a hard case. If anything, T-Mobile should have been very clear about activating the Binge On program by default on all devices and what this could mean when watching content from other arenas. In doing so, it could have avoided this whole confusion.

If you don't want the program activated on your device, check out our previous post on how to switch off Binge On from your phone.

Source: BGR


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  1. As long as users have a choice as to whether Binge On is on or off, I don't see what the big deal is. If you don't want it, it literally takes about one minute to switch it off. I have already gotten into the data saving mode by manually switching to a lower resolution when watching streaming media on my phone. Do we really need 1080p or 4K when watching on small screen devices? Seems like a waste of data. Again, as long as there is a choice, I'm OK with it.

    1. You aren't paying attention. YouTube isn't part of BingeON, there is NO opt out.
      If BingeON is checked on, or off, YouTube is compressed.

    2. That doesn't sound right. My understanding is that:
      If Bing On is enabled all video services are degraded but only some are free.
      If you opt out of Binge On, no video services are degraded and none are free either.
      To be Net Neutral, T-Mobile needs to treat all services equally.

    3. That's correct. When it's enabled, Binge On compresses all streaming video to 480 to optimize for mobile devices. If somebody doesn't want the Binge On, it's easy as pie to turn it off.

      So easy, even a caveman could do it!

    4. "To be Net Neutral, T-Mobile needs to treat all services equally."
      Exactly! No partental controls should be allowed at the carrier level!

  2. Google is infamous for forcing features down people's throats.

    It became impossible for anyone to take them seriously on the topic of opt-in services once they integrated "Google Plus" into previously unrelated products.

    With that said, there's no pro-consumer reason for T-Mobile to automatically degrade Youtube videos if it's not even a part of the Binge program.

    In fact, I'd go even further and say that the option to degrade video quality should exist as a completely separate data-saving function that's offered to all T-Mobile customers.

    I get that they're trying to stick users with a worse experience as a trade off for Binge, but it makes a lot more sense from a laymen's perspective to just have one option for opting into sponsored data (at the cost of a limited data stash) and another for degrading video quality to preserve limited data (while keeping the stash).

    For a service that calls themself an uncarrier, their penchant for unnecessarily bundling things together betrays just how much of a carrier they really are.

    1. I don't have a problem with T-Mobile tying the zero-rated data to the optimization.

    2. Brah, it's like you don't even want free HD videos on top a 6GB unthrottled LTE plan for only $30/mo (as long as you're on a family plan with three other family members/friends/prepaid enthusiasts).

    3. Uncarrier is over, Tmobile is the new "Carrier"
      Jacked up prices on plans, manipulating data from the net.
      While their Alice Cooper CEO looks dead eyed at the camera and says everything is great.

      Why is nobody asking -
      Music freedom. If you use a service that is included, it is free. If not, the music data is the same.
      BingeOn. If you use a service that is included, it is free. If not, the video is still compressed without your consent.
      Swing and a miss......

    4. "Uncarrier is over, Tmobile is the new "Carrier""

      I won't consider them to be a carrier until they are near as good as Verizon and AT&T. "Un-carrier" is a moniker suited to such an operation with poor and threadbare coverage. Not as good as a carrier...

    5. "I don't have a problem with T-Mobile tying the zero-rated data to the optimization."

      Why can't T-Mobile just obey the letter and spirit of net neutrality and quit doing these cost-based tricks based on the type of data you are using?

      Not charging for a lot of minor video services while charging for a huge one is de-factor charging extra to use that other service.

    6. "While their Alice Cooper CEO looks dead eyed at the camera and says everything is great."

      .... His 'Mission Accomplished' moment. Meanwhile, his company LOOKS like it is competing with the big guys due to the smoke and mirrors of frivolous lawsuits and deceptive advertising instead of just doing the right thing and building an adequate coast-to-coast network.

  3. T-Mo says they are adding 24 more video services in 2016.
    That should help gut the argument that some services are disadvantaged.

  4. The entire net neutrality violation is negated simply by the fact that T-Mobile is not charging content providers for participation in the Binge On program. In fact, T-Mobile has expressed a willingness to work with content providers on compatibility. It would seem that YouTube is more interested in whining then cooperating.

    1. It's still allowing certain services to have a competitive advantage.

      Providers should be in the business of offering a dumb pipe, not picking winners and losers.

    2. This is where I am lost: if T-Mobile is still "optimizing" YouTube anyway, why are they still charging for the data to stream YouTube?

    3. Exactly, if they can detect a video in order to downgrade it, they can and should also zero-rate it. What they are doing now is favoring some services over others which is precisely what Net Neutrality is supposed to prevent.

    4. Tmo says YouTube streams videos various ways and they are having tech discussions with them to get the into they need to properly identify all streams. I think If they only ID some streams for zero cost then people would bitch that THEIR YouTube is being penalized and bury FCC with complaints. The FCC says they are not investigating Binge On. They have just asked Tmo to come in so they can understand the program. Self-styled regulatory "experts" here are jumping the gun in citing net reg violation based on their own personal interpretation of the regs.
      New Year's Prediction: As soon as Tmo adds YouTube and 23 more services this year, all the whiners will go on to criticize other free services that they choose not to enjoy.

    5. " It would seem that YouTube is more interested in whining then cooperating."

      Entirely false. It requires no "cooperation". T-Mobile can easily do this. In fact, they have to go out of their way to specifically throttle the date.

    6. "As soon as Tmo adds YouTube and 23 more services this year, all the whiners will go on to criticize other free services that they choose not to enjoy"

      Until T-Mobile stops charging extra for ANY data use, they will be breaking the law.

    7. What data is T-Mobile charging extra to use?
      What law do you think T-Mobile is breaking?

    8. "What data is T-Mobile charging extra to use? "

      50GB of Netflix - Free

      50GB of Youtube - PREPARE YOUR WALLET

      It's not complicated, friend.

    9. T-Mobile does not charge anyone extra to watch 50GB of YouTube.
      You buy fast data, and use it any way you want.
      Additional, throttled data is included.

    10. "T-Mobile does not charge anyone extra to watch 50GB of YouTube."

      Sorry, you are not fooling anyone.

    11. "T-Mobile does not charge anyone extra to watch 50GB of YouTube. "

      They offer free unlimited LTE access to other services, while limiting your LTE access to Youtube depending on how much extra LTE data you've purchased.

      The amount of LTE Youtube you get is proportional to how much extra they've charged you, while Binge services have unlimited LTE data.

      It's everything net neutrality was made to regulate, from throttling to data caps and even "internet fast lanes" for certain services once your data is depleted.

      T-Mobile is basically making the FCC look incompetent.

    12. "T-Mobile is basically making the FCC look incompetent."

      ...and being rather hostile to its customers. Of course, Cricket is bad charging for tether data, but this T-Mobile scam is a huge mess.

    13. Cricket throttles. Verizon throttles their mvnos. It's only an issue now? I don't think there is any scam here.

    14. Let's roll back the clock to last year when T-Mobile was caught throttling, and used strange weasel words even then to deny what they were doing...


      Legere being caught throttling and then denying it is getting to be a lot like Putin denying Russia has invaded Ukraine.

      T-Mobile, obey the law. Provide a good deal. Be honest. When you are caught doing something wrong, admit it and stop doing it. Strive to build a great network. Or else all you are building is a house of magenta cards.

    15. Cricket and the others throttle all, without regard to data content*. That's legal. T-Mobile throttling and charging extra based on the type of data content... in fact, even the company it comes from, is against the law.

      Hope this turns into something class action and all the T-Mobile customers get checks or free months or something. Or maybe even they might actually get the service that T-Mobile advertises. Imagine that.

      (* Exception being when the other companies charge for tether)

  5. Exactly, they are favoring the paid services while excluding the biggest video streamer, YouTube a free service.
    Tmobile doesn't want to give you unlimited free video, it negates the reason of data compression.

    Even AT&T, who is playing around with sponsored data, says it knows where every 1 and 0 is coming from on their system. But Tmobile doesn't? Flat out lie.

  6. If the FCC allows T-Mobile to downgrade videos unless you opt out of a free service, it won't be long until they downgrade videos unless you opt into a paid one.

    1. If the FCC allows Cricket to charge for tethering it won't be long before AT&T takes kickbacks from Youtube to prioritize their traffic.

    2. They're already taking kickbacks for sponsored data.

      Regardless, Youtube won't pay carriers to prioritize their service.

      Carriers will pay Google for the privilege of accessing it.

  7. Nice weasel-words from a company known for deceptive marketing in other areas.

    Could start a trend. Imagine HR departments saying to an employee they let go: "You're not being fired. You're being optimized".

    Hoping for T-Mobile to lose a net neutrality lawsuit of these shenanigans.

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