T-Mobile adds Amazon Video to Binge On while Stanford study says it’s ‘likely illegal’


Binge On allows T-Mobile subscribers to watch videos from select streaming services without using their allotted data. Amidst controversy that the plan throttles data and violates net neutrality laws, the company announced the expansion of the service to include additional streaming services including Amazon Video. Customers on a Binge On plan can now stream as much Amazon Video as they want without eating away at their data plan. The catch however, is that video will be downgraded to DVD 480p quality. You can enter #BNG# and press send on your T-Mobile device to see if you’re currently using the service and being downgraded. Entering #BOF# will disable the service, while entering #BON# will enable it.

A new study from Stanford University says T-Mobiel’s Binge On plan violates net nutrality principles and is “likely illegal.” Barbara van Schewick, the law professor who authored the Stanford study, says “T-Mobile’s Binge On is aptly named — it feels good in the short-term but harms consumers in the long run.” She continues to say “the program limits user choice, distorts competition, stifles innovation, and harms free speech on the Internet. If more ISPs offer similar programs, these harms will only grow worse.” There’s no doubt the FCC will be stepping in to determine if T-Mobile’s service plan violates net neutrality orders the agency introduced last year.

ViaThe Verge (1)(2)

  1. Keith says:

    That Stanford thing went right over my head. Not saying there’s not a valid point, but it stifles freedom of speech? How? By watching amazon instant video using data that doesn’t count against your cap?
    Im an at&t user and i thought this plan was brilliant. One of the serious flaws of this tech age is very few people can really use mobile data because their afraid of going over. This binge thing sounds like a step in the right direction.

    • HeffeD says:

      No, it’s not a step in the right direction, because it’s limiting all streams going through the network to 1.5Mbps, 480p.

      The whole idea behind net neutrality, is that it is illegal to limit access to competing services through any given network providers network. So for example, Comcast can’t charge Netflix a fee to ensure that Netflix customers aren’t getting their bandwidth throttled by Comcast, affecting their stream quality.

      T-Mobile doesn’t feel Binge On infringes on net neutrality principles, because the service is optional. Customers can choose to use it, or not. Plus, it’s free for any content provider to sign up for this program, which allows T-Mobile customers to stream content from their service without affecting their mobile data allotment.

      So what’s the problem here? That sounds great!

      The problem is that when a customer turns on Binge On, ALL streamed content is limited to 1.5Mbps and has its resolution lowered to 480p, NOT just the services that have signed up for the program!

      So for example, if Netflix has signed up for Binge On, you can stream from Netflix and it won’t impact your data allowance, but your quality is limited to 1.5Mbps, 480p. And let’s say that Hulu hasn’t signed up for Binge On, (I’m just using these providers as an example, I don’t know who has or hasn’t signed up for the program) if you stream something from Hulu, it WILL count towards your data allowance, and your quality is STILL being restricted to 1.5Mbps, 480p.

      So you the customer, are paying to stream premium content, (by way of your precious mobile data allowance) but aren’t provided a premium product! What a great program! If I care about the amount of data I use, this program limits my choices. Plus, regardless of the choice I make, (Do I pay for the stream with my data, or not…) the end result is inferior quality unless I turn off Binge On to watch the premium stream…

      Let me see if I can put this in a way that’s easy to understand.

      Let’s say that Binge On is a Blu-Ray player. If you’re a customer of T-Mobile, they will give you this Blu-Ray player, and with it, you can watch any new movie that comes out, for free! What a great deal!

      Provided, of course, that the new movie you want to watch is from Dreamworks or Disney. You’ll still need to pay to watch movies from any other studio…

      Well that kind of sucks! Still, watching SOME movies for free is better than watching NO movies for free, right? So I’ll use the Binge On Blu-Ray player.

      Oh, what do you mean ANY movie I put in the Binge On player looks like a DVD instead of Blu-Ray? Even those movies that I paid money to see?

      Yeah, on second though, this Binge On doesn’t sound like a great way to watch movies…

  2. JonW747 says:

    My family has 3 phones with unlimited data, and we’ve left “binge on” enabled on ALL the phones. No complaints. We get $11.97 in VuDu credits each month if we continue to do so.

    If I’m streaming video with mobile data to a TV and I can actually benefit from higher bandwidth, I can turn off “binge on”.

    This is a great feature for T-Mobile’s network AND for T-Mobile’s customers.

    It doesn’t get more simple: turn it off when you want it off, turn it on when you want it on.

    I’m glad there’s so many people out there looking out for our rights, but maybe they can hold back until we’ve actually been wronged?

    • Keith says:

      Ok.You kind of lost me there (common theme for me I guess). Im ALL for keeping the net fair and balanced and open to all forms of free speech but Im not entirely sure you get my point.
      Unless you have unlimited data youre not getting to stream many movies (if any all whether its 1080p or a vhs rip).
      This seems like an appealing deal to most people. Yes. Its not right that all there data gets throttled but when were talking 6 gb allowance Im just not feeling the urge to speak out.
      Of course Ive been around awhile and always grab my wallet when a large corporation is offering a “deal” so Im waiting for the big picture to reveal itself. Im sure Ill find it soon.
      Hmmm… Yes think it just hit me. Maybe theyre banking on most people watching movies on wifi so it could work out the company burns through less data meaning a savings to them and at the expense of the consumer? Transfer the cost from private business to customer = efficiency. Is that it?
      Like i said im not sure id complain personally. My data went from 1 to 6. Thats shared by 3 people and we only have that because my wife complained. Being able to have a little one stream SpongeBob on long car trips might make for some happy customers.

  3. xnamkcor says:

    This sounds like a convoluted set-up for a company to use as reference against net neutrality.

  4. Pedro says:

    Even if this gives certain advantages to their customers I think it is pretty clear there is a problem with their implementation, more details here:


    They are not giving advantage to the services that have signed for Binge on program, but still are throttling other services which means users get a poorer experience on those, and that is enough for those companies to complain.

    • JonW747 says:

      Yes, that’s why Google complained and at the time it wasn’t widely known that T-Mobile was throttling all video services; but again … so what?

      T-Mobile should have been more up front about this and it may have spared Google some complaints about their video quality.

      Still the answer is simple. Want full bandwidth? Turn it off. Want to stream video without data charges or using less data? Turn it on. There’s no charge for doing so, and there’s no delay.

      As T-Mobile has pointed out, more customers are streaming video than before Binge-On and they’re doing so while putting less of a burden on the network.

      Fact is most people don’t need more than 1.5Mbps streaming on their phone, and they’re just wasting their data plan by doing so. Heck, back when I was on Sprint I got by with 250Kbps streaming with my Slingbox to a hotel TV. No it wasn’t good quality, but it was better than watching what was on the hotel TV.

      • Pedro says:

        Aside from maybe violating some law, the issue is that it is only mentioned in these articles, regular users will likely don’t know this is happening, or how to change it since it is on by default.

        While I agree most users won’t need super high resolution videos, why would they want to buy 720p, 1080p and 1440p phones in the first place then?

  5. RowMan says:

    Geez. Its a service that can be turned on or off at the touch of a button by the ACTUAL CONSUMER. I don’t see how this violates anything if I have the choice to opt out or in at will. I don’t need bluray quality to watch video on my phone. I don’t even need 480p. Binge-On has been a welcome service to me as by budget allows for only 1GB of high-speed data. However, if I was forced into Binge-On without the option to decline, then we’d have a beef.

  6. Jgriff says:

    Here’s my problem. Amazon video is included so is Amazon Prime membership. I have this new unlimited data that reads in fine print that if i exceed 28Kb then i may experience a slow down during congestion or peak times, however unlike other Tmobile plans, I am not actually Throtted. I use throttle in the sense that my data is slowed until next billing cycle to 2G speed. Ironically, I am using Bing-On and my data is quadrupled while using Amazon Prime. So I am paying for a service that should not count against my data. Tmobile has caused me more problems and confusions in the last 45 days than the 10 previous years I have had service.

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