Google, through YouTube, has decided to be part of T-Mobile’s Binge On service, a very popular free streaming video service from the telecom’s company. Binge On was launched last November by T-mobile. It allows T-mobile subscribers to stream Internet videos free on their mobile devices. At launch, T-mobile subscribers who enabled Binge On were able to stream content from Netflix, HBO, Hulu, SHOWTIME, WatchESPN and many other streaming video sites without affecting the subscriber’s data. Basically, unlimited Internet on your mobile device.
But, Google refused to be part of the Binge On program because of some issues it observed. According to Google, the quality of videos on Binge On were noticeably lower than what YouTube offers. Indicating that T-mobile deliberately reduced the resolution of the videos. By joining the service, it seems Google and T-mobile have resolved the issue of video quality on Binge On.
However, it wasn’t only Google that raised concerns over the Binge On program. Concerns were raised too about the fact that T-mobile subscribers who had Binge On turned on, noticed changes on all videos, not just the ones on the Binge On service. In January this year, T-mobile finally confirmed that fact. T-mobile admitted that it deliberately slowed down the speed of other video streams making it difficult for T-mobile subscribers to stream videos outside Binge On. Even downloads speeds were affected for videos not part of the service.
These issues raised the question of net neutrality. Binge On, by the way it is structured, massively encourages people to watch videos only from sites that are part of the free unlimited service. And since the service is free and unlimited, there is a guarantee that most subscribers would only watch videos through Binge On. What happens to video streaming sites that can’t afford to let out their video for free? This issue is almost like Facebook’s Free Basics Internet program that was recently suspended in India over net neutrality issues.
By making YouTube a part of Binge On, Google has now made the unlimited Internet service one of the largest streaming video service in the world. Christian Kleinerman, YouTube’s Project Management Director, had this to say on the move to be part of Binge On:
“Last November, T-Mobile introduced a program called Binge On, which allows video services and users to reduce T-Mobile’s data charges by limiting streaming to a lower resolution that many users find acceptable for watching most videos on their phone screen. The initial implementation of the Binge On program raised questions from both users and video services, including YouTube. For instance, we didn’t think it was clear how the program would be implemented for video services that were not included in the “free streaming” portion of the Binge On program. We also thought users needed more help to understand how the program worked and how to exercise their options.
Over the last several months, we raised these concerns with T-Mobile, and they’ve heard us and others who provided similar feedback. We’re glad T-Mobile will continue to improve the program for all users and video providers…..”
For the masses, net neutrality concerns are not something they care about. If they can get unlimited Internet in any from, they would be very happy. With Binge On, T-mobile has a best selling product. And adding YouTube makes it infinitely more attractive to streaming video freaks. Unless, the laws are changed, I wouldn’t bet against Binge On becoming far out the number one video streaming service in the US.
photo credits: tmonews.com; washingtonpost.com