Make us your home page
Instagram

Is T-Mobile degrading online videos and violating net neutrality? YouTube thinks so

When T-Mobile launched a new feature last month that let customers stream unlimited Netflix, HBO and Hulu over their data plans, there was a notable partner missing: YouTube.

Now, YouTube is accusing T-Mobile of degrading the quality of its videos, as well as those of other providers. In a statement to the Wall Street Journal, a YouTube official said T-Mobile is "throttling all video services" in what could be a violation of the government's net neutrality rules.

YouTube's complaint marks one of the first public objections by a major Internet company to T-Mobile's program, known as Binge On. And it will likely draw further attention from regulators in Washington.

T-Mobile's Binge On exempts specific online video channels from consumers' data caps. As a result, subscribers who use the feature can watch as much Netflix as they want without fear of hitting their monthly data limit.

But there also is a catch: T-Mobile automatically enables Binge On for all customers with a 3 gigabyte data plan or greater, whether they like it or not. At the same time, videos for consumers who don't opt out of Binge On may get artificially downsampled to 480p — a lower quality than what they might otherwise get. This process makes streaming video more efficient, T-Mobile has said, and it is applied to all video content that people consume through Binge On, not just the special apps that enjoy the data-cap exemption under the program.

T-Mobile's marketing claims that its video quality policy, as applied to non-Binge On partners like YouTube, still allows consumers to stretch their data plans three times as far. And it says Binge On streams video at 480p "or better," hypothetically leaving open the possibility of higher-quality streams.

But by subjecting YouTube to that policy, and by requiring consumers to opt out rather than opt in, T-Mobile risks running afoul of rules aimed at preventing discrimination online, activists say.

"Degrading video quality this way violates the FCC's no-throttling part of the net neutrality rule, which forbids reducing the quality of an application or an entire class of applications," Marvin Ammori, a net neutrality lawyer, wrote this month in Slate.

The Federal Communications Commission sent letters to T-Mobile this month, along with AT&T and Comcast, asking to meet to learn about the policies in greater detail. Those meetings are expected to happen early next year.

Is T-Mobile degrading online videos and violating net neutrality? YouTube thinks so 12/23/15 [Last modified: Wednesday, December 23, 2015 6:48pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

Copyright: For copyright information, please check with the distributor of this item, Washington Post.
    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. 'Road to Nowhere' is back: Next phase of Suncoast Parkway coming

    Roads

    Despite intense public opposition and dubious traffic projections, the Florida Department of Transportation has announced that construction of the toll road known as "Suncoast 2" is expected to start in early 2018.

    The Suncoast Parkway ends at U.S. 98 just south of Citrus County. For years residents have opposed extending the toll road, a project dubbed the "Suncoast 2" into Citrus County. But state officials recently announced that the Suncoast 2 should start construction in early 2018. [Stephen J. Coddington  |  TIMES]
  2. A sports rout on Wall Street

    Retail

    NEW YORK — Sporting goods retailers can't shake their losing streak.

  3. Grocery chain Aldi hosting hiring event in Brandon Aug. 24

    Retail

    BRANDON — German grocery chain Aldi is holding a hiring event for its Brandon store Aug. 24. It is looking to fill store associate, shift manager and manager trainee positions.

  4. Lightning owner Jeff Vinik backs film company pursuing global blockbusters

    Corporate

    TAMPA — Jeff Vinik's latest investment might be coming to a theater near you.

    Jeff Vinik, Tampa Bay Lightning owner, invested in a new movie company looking to appeal to a global audience. | [Times file photo]
  5. Trigaux: Look to new Inc. 5000 rankings for Tampa Bay's future heavyweights

    Business

    There's a whole lotta fast-growing private companies here in Tampa Bay. Odds are good you have not heard of most of them.

    Yet.

    Kyle Taylor, CEO and founder of The Penny Hoarder, fills a glass for his employees this past Wednesday as the young St. Petersburg personal advice business celebrates its landing at No. 25 on the 2017 Inc. 5000 list of the fastest growing private companies in the country. Taylor, still in his 20s, wins kudos from executive editor Alexis Grant for keeping the firm's culture innovative. The business ranked No. 32 last year. [DIRK SHADD   |   Times]