After a lathering of criticism and data against T-Mobile’s zero-rated video data program, Binge On, CEO John Legere is now defending it by saying it is popular with customers and signed parties. This comes as the company is preparing to send representatives to the FCC for discussions on this service.
Legere first said that since the debut of Binge On, video watching has gone up some 12 percent. One of the program’s top video providers saw daily average viewership jump 66 percent among limited data consumers, unarguably good news for what the program sets out to do. Binge On is also adding on 14 more service providers including A&E, Lifetime, HISTORY and others. It brings the total to 38 services available on the scheme with another 50 waiting to be signed up, Legere said.
The CEO then goes on to air his frustrations toward Google and YouTube for characterizing Binge On as “a bad thing” for net neutrality. After all, there is an “off switch” for end users, so they do have control over whether or not they get the benefits (and negatives) of the program.
What Legere doesn’t address is the Electronic Frontier Foundation’s finding that bandwidth for video downloading or streaming from a non-Binge On service (read: YouTube) is still cut down for “DVD-quality,” or, as the tests showed, 1.5Mbps. And you’re paying out of your data bucket for whatever data you download, not the bandwidth.
It theoretically means that you could stream 4K video from a Binge On provider at the supposedly requisite low bandwidth and still not be charged a dime for it. Practically, that would be a hot mess.
That’s the fundamental flaw of Binge On, as we understand it to work. For those binging on, they are deceived into thinking that they are necessarily using less data from their allotment while they are actually using less bandwidth not by choice while on the program. Video files, no matter in what quality, have definite file sizes. For companies out of the Binge On loop, it can mean fewer viewer minutes and fewer possible ad dollars.
The concept of net neutrality does not just focus on what data is open for all to access, but how slow or fast one can access it. That’s bandwidth allotment.
So, yes, there are flaws as is with Binge On, given we take everything we’ve learned about it for granted. We’ll see if things change.