The new report is published by the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF). Under this report, they have evidence of Binge On throttling all videos streamed by users.
In order to obtain the results, the EFF performed some tests using a phone with a T-Mobile network and a strong 4G LTE connection. The series of tests performed took note of the time actions were performed including the following:
- Downloading a video to an SD card
- Downloading a video without its file name indicating it was a video
- Downloading a large file that wasn't necessarily a video
- Streaming an HTML5 video through a website
On its testing, the EFF was able to discover that all video streams were being throttled by T-Mobile to a speed of around 1.5Mbps. This was irregardless of the phone connection used and the video being played. This even included the streamed and downloaded videos that were planned to be viewed at a later time. And judging on the results, the EFF found that T-Mo's Binge On program does not even change videos served to its users in either option. What the carrier does was to slow down the turnout to 1.5Mbps instead of lowering the video's quality or adapting to it. And for the user, they will see stuttering on the content they have tried to access. Another discovery made by the EFF was that the connection on downloads that weren't video content were still slowed down by the carrier. This was something T-Mobile attributed to looking into files more deeply than what HTTP headers could and could detect video-specific attributes without looking into the content.
This report by the EFF is a big slap to Binge On. When presented with the report, the carrier confirmed that it does not optimize video streams beyond lowering its bandwidth. The carrier says that it depends on how the video provider responds and serves content given its reduced bandwidth. And if the provider is unable to adapt to this, the video becomes stuttered on the user's end.
In theory, T-Mobile's Binge On program does seem great and all; especially if you like to stream video content on your device. But with Binge On automatically enabled for users, it poses a problem with those who do not want to use the program, particularly for those who prefer watching videos on YouTube other than the providers that have partnered with Binge On.
With all that's going on with Binge On (an FCC inquiry, YouTube's complaint plus today's EFF report), T-Mobile needs to respond to this as soon as they can. The best way T-Mobile can appease their users is to offer Binge On as an opt-in service instead of an opt-out. While this may seem simple, it could do a lot of good for its users since not everyone wants to avail it. Perhaps this would also lessen the number of criticisms they had to face regarding this issue.