T-Mobile’s new “Binge On” program lets its customers watch all the videos they want from partner services — like Netflix and HBO Now — without counting against their data caps. But nonpartners such as YouTube and other services are now accusing T-Mobile of slowing down their traffic, resulting in poor-quality video, according to the Wall Street Journal.
The way T-Mobile’s Binge On program works is video streaming services such as Netflix and HBO Now work with the carrier to provide unlimited video. The catch is that video is delivered not at full 1080p HD quality, but optimized and degraded to a lower 480p resolution while a customer is using their mobile data connection. The feature can be toggled on or off. But while it’s off, all streaming video viewed over a mobile connection counts against T-Mobile’s data limit. The problem is, nonpartner services have suffered decreased streaming quality without the benefits of not counting against T-Mobile subscribers’ data plans.
“Reducing data charges can be good for users, but it doesn’t justify throttling all video services, especially without explicit user consent,” a YouTube spokesman told the Wall Street Journal.
If you’re experiencing slow playback while on YouTube, here’s what you need to do. Log on to the T-Mobile website via the T-Mobile My Account app, click the menu icon on the top right, click profile and toggle off the switch located next to “Binge On.” T-Mobile has additional details on how to do this through a computer and instructions for prepaid customers to do the same.
While it’s a fairly straightforward process to shut toggle off the Binge On feature, it may take up to two hours for the changes to take effect. YouTube video should start to load faster, but keep in mind that any videos played while Binge On is off will count against your T-Mobile data cap.
The practice of exempting services from data caps is known as “zero rating.” While there aren’t specific rules against the practice, the Federal Communications Commission issued a letter to Comcast, AT&T and T-Mobile for information on how the practices fall in line with its March Open Internet Order, which established rules to protect consumer and business access to content and data on the web, according to ArsTechnica.