Here we go again. T-Mobile’s Binge On feature has once again found itself the target of a particular group criticizing its service. According to a team of researchers from the Northeastern University from Boston, Massachusetts, not only does the Binge On service break net neutrality rules set by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), it also apparently delivers video content of inferior quality compared to what T-Mobile has promised. Moreover, the researchers state that Binge On at times charges mobile users for viewing video content from providers who are part of the program in spite of terms and conditions of the service. The Northeastern University research team published their findings in a six page document and released it a week ago.
As explained by David Choffnes, the assistant professor the the College of Computer and Information Science at Northeastern University, T-Mobile’s Binge On service is far from being consistent with its supposedly zero rated content. Some cases even show that the content being delivered was not entirely zero rated after all. But Choffnes did note that a few of these cases were transient, and probably caused by faulty or overloaded back end infrastructure.
The research team also claimed that the promised 480 pixel quality of video content is not always true. Their findings show that while T-Mobile’s Binge On feature supplies enough bandwidth for 480 p and lower, it increases download times, which results to faster battery consumption because the radio remains active for a longer period. The team also found that when the Binge On service is activated, YouTube selects medium quality (360 p), which is clearly lower than the 480 p advertised by T-Mobile.
The Northeastern University researchers also note that the lower bitrate happens regardless of the display screen size of the mobile device being used. Take YouTube, for instance -- when streaming HD video for tablet devices, YouTube is compelled to adapt to a lesser video quality by T-Mobile’s rate-limiting, causing lower resolution content on big display screens, such as those of tablet devices.
It is no secret that T-Mobile’s Binge On service has become a hit. The major US wireless carrier has highlighted the fact that subscribers under eligible data plans are viewing more than double the amount of video content than they did before Binge On was introduced. T-Mobile has also claimed that its video optimization practices have actually minimized the occurrence of network congestion, but there are others who are saying that this optimization is nothing more than lessening the quality of the content, as opposed to reformatting them for specific types of mobile devices.
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