T-Mobile launched its Binge On service, it has received both praise and criticism from its users. More recently, T-Mobile received criticism over its Binge On service as Northeastern University researchers have flagged the service for violating net neutrality. And for some users, Binge On delivers videos of lesser quality than what T-Mobile actually claims it does. There have also been some users who have complained of getting charged for watching content from providers who have been named as part of the program, instead of the Un-Carrier's promise of free video streaming without going against the users' monthly data cap.
The findings of the researchers were published on a six-page document which they released just last week. The information was then reported on by several publications, one of which was DSL Reports. Based on the group's study, Binge On video was very spotty and did not always live up to the hyped 480p quality that the carrier promised. As a result, those watching the video were quite disappointed. Even though sufficient bandwidth for videos with a quality of 480p and lower were provided by the service, the researchers found that it had adverse effects too such as increasing download times; which ultimately eats up battery life.
Another finding that the researchers noted was that when Binge On was enabled on a device, YouTube automatically selects medium quality, which was at 360p; a number clearly lower than the 480p promised by the carrier. The researchers found that this video quality downgrade happened despite the screen size of the device the video is played on. Even when an HD YouTube video is being streamed on a tablet, Binge On limited YouTube from adapting to the quality requirement and enforced lower qualities that produced very visible low resolution on such devices.
Without a doubt, T-Mobile's Binge On program is a service that continues to be appealing to its customers. And according to company executives, users on eligible data plans have streamed twice as much video now with Binge On. Not to mention, T-Mo has claimed that the optimization policies upheld by the program has expedited network congestion.
Contrary to this, T-Mobile has continued to receive flak for breaking net neutrality laws. Just a few months ago, a net neutrality expert and Stanford professor published a document on how Binge On "harms competition, innovation and free speech." The document also showed how Binge On could likely be illegal. Because Binge On limited its users to only watch video from their partner providers, the professor found that it posed an unfair edge to other providers who were unable to pay T-Mo and be part of their Binge On program. In response, T-Mobile has defended its Binge On program against net neutrality violation claims by stating that the service was "about customer choices-- not limitations."
Northeastern's researchers recently found that the service permitted users to "steal arbitrary amounts of data from T-Mobile." This was done by changing content to make it look like Binge-On was enabled. This posed a threat to the operator. The researchers built a proxy that does the same thing, which is why they were able to confirm the carrier allowed free-riding. Based on their findings, this could work as a disadvantage and threat to T-Mobile as it could be modified to outwit their efforts of blocking it. When this happens, it would be far too expensive and complicated for T-Mobile to take care of.
T-Mobile has been notified of the vulnerability. As of this writing, the carrier has been said to be "mitigating it via abuse monitoring."
Source: Fierce Wireless