July 1, 2016 — One of T-Mobile’s biggest problems is that it keeps trying to pull itself out of the perception of being the bottom-tier carrier of the Big Four. It has tried a number of schemes, none of which have met with much success. Now, there is more criticism of their Binge On campaign.
Recently, researchers at Northeastern University were able to show that the zero-rated video delivers video of lesser quality than T-Mobile claims and it may be in violation of Net Neutrality rules. As well, it was discovered that Binge On sometimes charges users for watching content from providers who are part of the program in spite of terms of the service.
“We encountered a small number of cases where a Binge On-participating service’s traffic was not zero-rated. These cases were transient, suggesting they are due to reasons such as buggy or overloaded infrastructure that supports Binge On,” wrote David Choffnes, assistant professor at Northeastern’s College of Computer and Information Science in the report (http://david.choffnes.com/pubs/bingeon_sigcomm16.pdf).
One example is where Binge On claims sufficient bandwidth for 480p transmissions. Yet when Binge On is enabled, YouTube selects lower (360p) quality, lower than the 480p specified by T-Mobile. YouTube attempts to stream HD for tablets, but T-Mobile’s rate-limiting forces YouTube to adapt to lower qualities that result in visibly low resolution on large screens.
T-Mobile’s response is that it uses “optimization” policies, which essentially degrade the content rather than reformatting it for mobile devices, supposedly to prevent congestion on the network. There is more, but this is just how T-Mobile uses a lot of smoke and mirrors to sell itself to the customer.
Oh well, another dance by another carrier. We should be used to this by now.