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EFF Claims That T-Mobile's Binge On Is Actually 'Just Throttling'

Illustration for article titled EFF Claims That T-Mobiles Binge On Is Actually Just Throttling

Late last year, T-Mobile launched a seemingly miraculous offer called Binge On that allows you to stream unlimited quantities of video using cellular data, for free. Now, the Electronic Frontier Foundation has scrutinized the service and claims that its video optimization is in fact “just throttling.”

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Binge On in theory recognizes video streams and optimizes them to 480p—in theory detailed enough to enjoy on a mobile phone, yet small enough not to consume huge quantities of data. It works with services including Netflix, HBO, Hulu, Sling TV, Watch ESPN, Vevo, and all kinds of others.

Great! Only in a blog post, EFF claims that T-Mobile isn’t really “optimizing” any of the video it serves. Instead, from a series of tests carried out by the Foundation, it appears to simply throttle video streams to around 1.5Mps. From EFF:

T-Mobile’s video “optimization” doesn’t actually alter or enhance the video stream for delivery to a mobile device over a mobile network in any way. This means T-Mobile’s “optimization” consists entirely of throttling the video stream’s throughput down to 1.5Mbps. If the video is more than 480p and the server sending the video doesn’t have a way to reduce or adapt the bitrate of the video as it’s being streamed, the result is stuttering and uneven streaming—exactly the opposite of the experience T-Mobile claims their “optimization” will have.

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T-Mobile customers do get the option to turn Binge On, err, off. But, as EFF points out, “it’s pretty obvious that throttling all traffic based on application type definitely violates the principles of net neutrality.”

The EFF goes as far as claiming that the FCC should investigate T-Mo’s Binge On scheme. We’ll have to wait and see if that happens.

Image by AP

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DISCUSSION

T-Mobile is a shit lying company anyways. Tried to charge me a full month’s bill after switching to cricket only 4 days into the month. Tried to denied me stating it’s in their contracts, except not mine as I signed it 6 years ago when I first join T-Mobile. Argued for a month until a rep finally pro-rated my bill. Thought that was the end of it.

Then three months later and two days before Thanksgiving I get a phone call from a debt collector stating I owe the full bill (even though I at least paid part of it via pro rated). Stressed out (dealing with the holidays and helping my parents recover from the California Butte Fire) I called them about it and they straight out LIED to me saying it was from another month in which they never received my payment. Based off that information I pay the “debt”. Then I decide to look into my banking history and see that I did in fact NEVER missed a payment as they all went through electronically to the same place.

I call back to call them on it and they change their tune and say it was for the month they pro rated me, claiming they have no record of my conversation with the rep supervisor who said I was being pro rated and even if they did they supervisor didn’t have authority to do that (even though ever rep at the time told me ONLY a supervisor had the athority...). I pointed out even if that’s the case I should have been debt the full amount because I did pay part of the bill under the impression of it being pro rated. Another month of arguing I finally get one of their reps to admit (on Twitter PM) that they have record of the supervisor pro rating me while confirming their records show no missed payments in between in which I flat out tell them thank you for the paper trail, refund me your so called “debt” otherwise I will share my story with screen shots of my conversations on like five different types of social media.

I’m then told to wait a week after thanksgiving to hear back from their accounting regarding the issue, never do, write back but finally told I’m being refund the full amount I was originally collected on... in form of a Case gift card that they mailed to my old address, which they KNEW wan’t my current address as they claimed they sent mailed notices about the outstanding bill (but not call, as I did transfer my number to Cricket) which I told them I no longer lived at. I then have to call Citi bank to change the address as T-Mobile has no authorization to change or cancel the order. Because refunding the amount straight back to the credit card I used to make the payment would have made too much freaking sense...

It’s now the new year and I’m still waiting on that Case gift card. Worst experience with a “professional” company I’ve ever had by far.