T-Mobile finally adds YouTube to Binge On

by Matt Klassen on March 21, 2016

youtube_logoT-Mobile announced that YouTube has officially be added to its list of streaming video service partners for its controversial Binge On service, ending a four month impasse between the two sides that saw YouTube accuse T-Mobile of some fairly shady business practices. I suppose addition to the in-crowd heals a lot of wounds.

If you remember, YouTube, the world’s foremost streaming video site, was not included in T-Mobile’s first round of Binge On partners, and immediately cried foul regarding T-Mobile’s alleged practice of “optimizing,” or throttling, all streaming video services, even if those streaming services were not part of T-Mobile’s select partners.

Now it seems both companies have buried the hatchet, and as of the end of last week, qualified T-Mobile customers will now be able to view YouTube content without the video counting against their respective data caps.

With the scathing vitriol we saw aimed at T-Mobile only a few short months ago, I’ll admit I’m a little surprised that the companies were able to come to an amicable agreement so quickly. At the time YouTube complained that not only was T-Mobile violating Net Neutrality regulations by offering zero-rated streaming video from certain providers, unduly impacting competition among streaming video providers, a violation in itself, but that T-Mobile was also throttling YouTube’s video stream, along with every other video stream on its network, regardless of whether that video provider was a Binge On partner or not.

“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 in January.

As I’m sure you’ll remember, T-Mobile’s Binge On service gave customers with mid-tier plans or above the ability to watch videos with participating partners as no data cost, while people on the cheapest plans were able to benefit from streaming “optimization,” or compressed video data, although still at a data cost. It was T-Mobile’s practice of compressing all video data that angered many, including YouTube, meaning in order to make this partnership work, something would have to change.

So in effort to appease YouTube, T-Mobile did have to change the nature of its Binge On service, altering its “proprietary” technology to allow video providers to manage video stream themselves, instead of letting T-Mobile apply the same broad management to all video streams. These changes will allow YouTube to optimize loading time for viewers, and assures that users can view HD quality video if they want to, although that will cut into data caps of course.

In addition to YouTube, T-Mobile added eight other Binge On partners as well: Baeble Music, Discovery Go, ESNE TV, FilmOn.TV, Fox Business, Google Play Movies, KlowdTV and Red Bull TV. That brings the total to 52. This particular agreement with YouTube closes perhaps the largest gap in T-Mobile’s Binge On service, as well as resolving one of the most vocal disputes regarding the carrier’s zero-rated service.

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Written by: Matt Klassen. www.digitcom.ca. Follow TheTelecomBlog.com by: RSS, Twitter, Facebook, or YouTube.

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