T-Mobile isn’t your friend

T-Mobile announced a new program allowing its users on 3GB or greater cellular data plans to stream several video services at 480p with no cap. Net neutrality is the law that requires all web traffic be delivered equally by internet service providers. No company can pay Comcast to have their service arrive faster than their competitors, and Comcast can’t require all sites pay to be accessible. CEO John Legre has varied in his position on net neutrality, advertising his beliefs as “pro-consumer” to rally support for T-Mobile’s best interest, whether that means being for or against the FCC. The new program, Binge-On, is a clear followup from last year’s Music Freedom, which applies to some music services. T-Mobile notably does not receive any money from their music and video streaming partners that are allotted unlimited data, making it a less typical abuse. The FCC chose not to prosecute T-Mobile for this crime because they didn’t see any obvious gain for T-Mobile, or malicious intent. This time, however, T-Mobile insists it’s of no violation due to allowing any and all video services to join by making T-Mobile able to identify and throttle it to 480p. YouTube is notably absent from the launch lineup of 24 sites.

They’ve been feeding users controlled glimpses of the real nature of bandwidth. Monthly data caps have truly no real-life relation, as Comcast engineers have admitted. They’re purely a business and profit-based policy. Consuming data at a constant rate for 16 hours a day to fill a 5GB monthly plan would mean about 22Kbps of usage. An LTE cell tower can handle up to 128 users downloading at 100Mbps at any given time, half a million times greater usage. The issue for T-Mobile is not the amount of data its customers are using, but the pace and timing. This is why Binge-On is truly better for them than it is the customer; video is typically the highest constant bitrate consumers use, and by making it unlimited throttled to 480p (just 2.5Mbps on YouTube), they buy time on upgrading and expanding infrastructure to meet congestion.

Binge-On appears to be yet another perk that’s spawned Apple and Microsoft-levels of fanboyism, following the great leader John Legre. Legre became famous following his use of the words “bullshit” and “fuckers” to refer to AT&T and Verizon at T-Mobile’s conferences, the same technique that his Twitter foe Trump has succeeded with to make himself seem like a relatable, frank fighter against a vilified enemy. Binge-On was announced the same day the price of T-Mobile’s unlimited data plan increased by $15 a month. T-Mobile may be smaller than AT&T, and their programs at face value seem less evil than Comcast’s adding of data caps to 30 new markets that were previously unlimited, but anti-neutrality policies should never be commended.

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