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T-Mobile’s Binge on Violates Key Net Neutrality Principles [pdf] (stanford.edu)
96 points by sinak on Jan 29, 2016 | hide | past | web | favorite | 100 comments



This is how net neutrality dies, if we're not careful. As a T-Mobile customer I browse /r/tmobile every now and then. It's an odd place, full of "fans" of T-Mobile (a concept I can't wrap my head around - users literally have flairs of "bleeding magenta"!), and the net neutrality debate there is fascinating. In short, many think this is not a net neutrality violation because any service can be accepted as part of "Binge On" if they apply to it. It is not anti-competitive, thus, not a net neutrality violation.

Thing is, they're not wrong, per se. Because there isn't an actual accepted definition for "net neutrality". For me, it's strict - the carrier is carrying bits and bytes, and doesn't know/care what they are. For others, it is an anti-competition stance.

Here's the problem: "Binge On" is great, in theory. Unlimited video! Even as a die-hard net neutrality supporter, next time I'm staying in a hotel with expensive wi-fi, I could load up Netflix on my phone and Chromecast it to the TV. Awesome. What's the net neutrality counter argument that is equally as enticing to customers? It's a tough sell.


I'm T-Mobile user and on every their survey I let them know that I oppose their violation of Net neutrality and they should stop Binge On. Also you can tell them that since they are allowing caps exemptions, it means that caps have nothing to do with network congestion and they should stop using them altogether.

> Thing is, they're not wrong, per se. Because there isn't an actual accepted definition for "net neutrality".

It is wrong, and definition is pretty straightforward. Net neutrality means no preferential treatment for any traffic. Here some services get exemption from caps, while other don't. It is clearly a preferential treatment for some traffic. From a different standpoint, Net neutrality means that network provider can't serve as a gatekeeper and decide who gets better traffic and who doesn't. Here they are the gatekeeper and services need to ask them for permission to be exempt from caps. Gatekeeper = violation of Net neutrality.


>Net neutrality means no preferential treatment for any traffic.

I don't know how this can be open to interpretation, by anyone. self-described "t-mobile fan" or not.


It's not open to interpretation to any honest person. Those who try using weasel logic around it are those who want to violate it. And they know perfectly well they are being crooked.


>Net neutrality means no preferential treatment for any traffic.

I want low latency, low bandwidth for VOIP. I'm fine with high bandwidth, high latency for file transfers. As such I don't think such a simple statement is useful or practical (or even used by anyone).


Network management is a legitimate use case. Ripping off users is not.


> This is how net neutrality dies, if we're not careful.

Net neutrality has been dead for a long time. Honestly it was never a reality, and always more of an ideal. Transit agreements for CDNs and asymmetric peering arrangements have been commonplace since the mid-90s.

> For me, it's strict - the carrier is carrying bits and bytes, and doesn't know/care what they are.

I think a lot of people on the Internet also share this belief, but it is incompatible with the way residential broadband connections are currently priced and sold. Residential broadband uses a lot of traffic management tricks to deliver high-performance last-mile access -- and those traffic management tricks drive down operating costs dramatically to the point where it's possible to have a $60/mo broadband plan.

At least T-Mobile is being transparent here: they're using a network management trick to allow them to offer unlimited data to their customers at a lower cost. Consumer last-mile access is all about making these kinds of compromises, and at least T-Mobile is giving its customers a choice to opt-in to a network management scheme rather than just using a hard cap.

If you want totally net-neutral Internet access, it is available to you in the form of a commercial broadband connection (fiber / metro ethernet). It's also a lot more expensive because the ISPs can't oversubscribe their infrastructure in the same way and still meet their SLAs -- but those customers are paying for a higher level of service.


> Transit agreements for CDNs and asymmetric peering arrangements have been commonplace since the mid-90s.

Neither CDNs nor peering have anything to do with net neutrality. What point are you trying to make?

It's entirely another matter that some ISPs use their market power to be rent seekers, but that's an entirely different issue and not directly related to net neutrality.

> Residential broadband uses a lot of traffic management tricks to deliver high-performance last-mile access

I sure would like to hear about them tricks. Statistical multiplexing and oversubscription aren't exactly novel concepts. Or did you have something else in mind?

> At least T-Mobile is being transparent here: they're using a network management trick to allow them to offer unlimited data to their customers at a lower cost.

It's not a network management trick, it's just a novel marketing trick to blow smoke up their customers' arse. If T-Mobile can deliver unlimited data for video streaming then they can deliver unlimited data for all content types.


> Statistical multiplexing and oversubscription aren't exactly novel concepts. Or did you have something else in mind?

They're not novel concepts, but they're hard to pull off at scale. There's no technological "magic pill" here - it's just a lot of continuous improvement on infrastructure. Oversubscription makes it possible to have a 150 mbps connection for under $300/mo. Oversubscription also makes some assumptions in order to make the statistical multiplexing work, and one of those assumptions is a certain level of concurrency and bandwidth usage.

Also, keep in mind that one of the ISPs most effective bandwidth management tricks is psychological: if they make you think that data is a limited resource, people will treat it like one and use less of it. Even if they don't end up charging you, the mere rumor that your ISP might charge you more if you go over is enough to get people to at least consider the amount of data they use.

> If T-Mobile can deliver unlimited data for video streaming then they can deliver unlimited data for all content types.

Because other content types aren't the problem: video is. Video is 70-80% of consumer Internet traffic (sorry, no source that I can share). T-Mobile can only offer unlimited video because they are taking something that accounts for 3/4 of their last-mile traffic and slashing the bitrate by 50%. They're not saying what video you can or can't watch, nor are they changing the content of the videos.

And video is only problematic because it needs to sit in multiple "buckets" at once. Generally network traffic is optimized for high throughput or low latency, but video needs a bit of both.


> They're not novel concepts, but they're hard to pull off at scale.

Citation needed. Extraordinary claims need extraordinary proofs.

In fact statistical multiplexing and oversubscription are easier to do the more scale you have. The problems occur at the lower end of the spectrum.


Opt-out, actually. Everyone got opted-in by default.


Defaults are a powerful thing, and usually I like opt-in. In this case, opt-out makes sense to me, because the people who care about net neutrality already know about the opt-out by now, and the service needs large scale opt-in to produce real results.

HD Voice is similar, it needs wide adoption to start paying dividends, and I hope it starts being opt-out instead of opt-in.


> any service can be accepted as part of "Binge On"

Yet, we can see that YouTube, Google Play Movies, and Amazon Video haven't been set up yet - so there are obviously hurdles. And why is the business the only one that can apply when it's the user trying to make the choices?


T-Mobile has just added Amazon Video (and others):

http://www.theverge.com/2016/1/28/10859920/t-mobile-binge-on...

And:

"you've now got the option of turning it [Binge On] off via shortcodes in your phone's dialer.Typing #BNG# and hitting send will show you whether it's currently enabled or switched off. #BOF# is the shortcode to turn off Binge On, and #BON# will reenable it."


Oh cool! I had been watching originally, but hadn't seen this, thanks!


> And why is the business the only one that can apply when it's the user trying to make the choices?

Because the business is required to coordinate with T-mobile on the technical side (source IP blocks, video streaming protocol).

You're accepting a video stream degraded to a bitrate that's still acceptable on a mobile device for unlimited video consumption (which requires technical intervention).


> You're accepting a video stream degraded to a bitrate that's still acceptable on a mobile device for unlimited video consumption (which requires technical intervention).

If you read the EFF's report on this, they show that T-Mobile is not cooperating with Google, et. al. in order to provide this service. All they're doing is artificially throttling the connection their own end, and letting the video service's automatic bitrate selection take effect.


Is that because Google is using QUIC? Which uses UDP? Which T-mobile's BingeOn config doesn't support (as outlined in the very T-mobile docs referenced in this advocacy paper)?


It shouldn't matter. If T-Mobile hasn't got a BingeOn agreement with a provider, they should be connecting to it just like they would if BingeOn were disabled. But that is not the case.

https://www.eff.org/deeplinks/2016/01/eff-confirms-t-mobiles...

"The first result of our test confirms that when Binge On is enabled, T-Mobile throttles all HTML5 video streams to around 1.5Mps, even when the phone is capable of downloading at higher speeds, and regardless of whether or not the video provider enrolled in Binge On."


Are we going to argue back and forth all day about this? That seems like an unproductive use of both of our times.

I support T-mobile's zero rating. You do not. We can argue the technical details all day long. I no longer donate to the EFF after their campaign against T-Mobile. I also would donate to whatever SuperPAC attempts to lean on the FCC to ensure zero rating is permitted to continue (as it behooves me as a mobile customer; I don't care about your startup, in the general sense).

Too often, Hacker News gets weighed down in the minutia, the little bits that don't matter to the non-technical. That's fine, of course. We love engineering for engineering's sake. But if you want to effect real change, remember that there aren't any strings to pull here to do that. Its simply an echo chamber of like minded folks with internet points to giveth or taketh away.


This is a quite specific point, away from the general debate about what T-Mobile and net neutrality.

They are throttling a service because it does not participate in their BingeOn program. That is horribly anti-competitive and bad for users. Why do you want T-Mobile to slow down your connection to YouTube and give you absolutely no discernible benefit from it? It absolutely boggles my mind.


> They are throttling a service because it does not participate in their BingeOn program.

That's not correct. Non-participants are treated the same as participants as far as throttling goes--both get throttled when BingeOn is enabled. What BingeOn does is make it so that the throttled video from participants is not included in your data usage.


> Why do you want T-Mobile to slow down your connection to YouTube and give you absolutely no discernible benefit from it? It absolutely boggles my mind.

Because I consume almost all of my contact through BingeOn partners, and don't watch YouTube, so it behooves me? Does that truly boggle your mind?

Why do I care if YouTube is throttled if I don't use it?


So there's basically no principle at stake here at all? If they throttle YouTube and you don't use it, that's OK. If they throttle Netflix and you do use it, you'll oppose it?

That seems exceptionally short sighted, but to each their own. As you say, I doubt we're going to change each other's minds here.


> So there's basically no principle at stake here at all?

There is, but you're fighting the wrong fight.

Twiddling bits for network management = okay.

Twiddling bits because you own a network and a content provider = not okay.

Get back to me when you're fighting the right fight, and I'm more than happy to help.


Twiddling bits for network management = okay.

If this was twiddling bits for network management, then they would be done at the point where they throttle all video (which they are doing). But they are going past that, and also giving it away 'for free' to end users, but only if a service signs up.

So in either case (whether a service is signed up for BingeOn or not), a streaming service is having their videos throttled. So what benefit does T-Mobile get by giving away it's 'twiddled bits'? One answer is 'to try to make network neutrality violations more palatible'. However no answer could be 'traffic management' because they are already doing it regardless of the BingeOn status of the provider.


No, T-mobile is detecting all video content and throttling it. This include video files that you download instead of streaming.


This is not scalable.


Is it not a bit premature to argue this considering BingeOn has only been recently released?

ISPs have been performing traffic management since their inception two decades ago. I've done network engineering for about 1/3 of my 15 year career. To be blunt with you, its definitely scalable. Could you explain to me why it isn't?


its definitely scalable. Could you explain to me why it isn't?

Imagine a world in which every ISP in the country had this system. Let's say that number is 1000 ISPs (with a typical 80/20 distribution).

As a video streaming start up, that's 200 ISPs that would need to be contacted and technical measures put in to place. It's likely that at least some of them are going to have incompatible requirements. So now the bar for a new (possibly better) video service is not just maintaining browser compatibility, but also signing contracts and meeting technical limitations for 10-200 ISPs.

Sure it works for exactly one company, but it doesn't work if the system is expanded to everyone. In other words, it's not scalable.


This is exactly how peering and transit setups work across ISPs. The burden is far lower than you describe.

If you can't meet the technical requirements that provide T-Mobile the network benefit to support BingeOn, you don't get included in the program. Its pretty simple.

If you're a video streaming startup, you're not going to be serving content to ISPs. Your CDN is. Your CDN would have a process in place to integrate with whatever ISPs wanted to support this. If you're attempting to service content directly from your own servers, you're either enormous, or stupid.


Imagine that you didn't have to peer to level 3 and be done, but instead had to have peering contracts with every single network that your packets passed through.

Your CDN would have a process in place to integrate

So rates through CDNs go through the roof (even more than they are for streamed video content already) because now they have to peer every end user ISP, and as a video streaming service, those costs are passed on to you. So something that was previously "free" (so as not to be a net neutrality violation) has the same effect of increasing costs and reducing competition.

And then on the flip side, if a startup is trying to build a new (possibly better) CDN company, itstill has the same problem.

You didn't remove the problem, you just moved it, and it's still just as unscalable.


> This is exactly how peering and transit setups work across ISPs. The burden is far lower than you describe.

Only it's not. If you need Internet transit, all you have to do is buy transit from two to three transit providers and you are all set. You'll get as big and as fast pipes as you like and at a price cheaper than doing it yourself. There is no need to make bespoke deals with 200 ISPs are there would be if everybody started with this BingeOn crap.

> If you're a video streaming startup, you're not going to be serving content to ISPs. Your CDN is.

Only if you are made out of money and/or don't know what you are doing.

> If you're attempting to service content directly from your own servers, you're either enormous, or stupid.

Neither enormous not stupid, just competent. You on the other hand have obviously never done video streaming and don't know what you are talking about.


> Neither enormous not stupid, just competent. You on the other hand have obviously never done video streaming and don't know what you are talking about.

My last gig was managing the video streaming infrastructure for a major US broadcaster. I think I've got a grasp on how its done.


I think as long as T-mobile isn't charging the video services actual money, the degree of concern goes way down for me. If money changes hands, then the Tmobile would be effectively hiding end customer costs into the structure of another service, making end customer market choices more convoluted, reducing customer market freedom and giving smaller companies an artificial financial disadvantage.

Since they aren't charging, there's this hurdle of having to do things to confirm the the specs of the program, but there's already all sorts of technical/marketing things that small companies need to do to access expanded customer bases. As long as they can make clean tradeoffs valuing Binge On conformance against other choices that seems not as inherently terrible - especially since in the end, mobile is a market where people have better choices then say the last-mile home broadband market.


> I think as long as T-mobile isn't charging the video services actual money, the degree of concern goes way down for me.

I see T-Mo has been successful in their marketing.

Drugs aren't bad, as long as they are free :)

Of course T-Mobile wants everybody to think that it's a good thing that they are acting as anti-competitive gatekeepers. As long as they don't explicitly charge for it.


I think most people are far more concerned about how fast they can download things and how much their data plan costs than 'the principles of net neutrality'.

What people like about net neutrality is that they aren't paying more to watch netflix and/or their netflix streams stream at the rate of connection they paid for. Outside of political activists I don't think anyone really cares about 'net neutrality' even the EFF didn't support it ~5 years ago.

Personally, I'd trade cheap & fast data plans for 'net neutrality' (the government enforced version of it rather than the defacto standard) any day of the week.


If you have to ask a gatekeeper for permission to participate, it's not neutral.


This is my biggest problem with it. If the integration were as simple as "set these proper headers to identify your content", maybe even with something as basic as registering the ID you use to prevent abuse, I'd feel much less negative about the Binge On and Music Freedom programs.

I'm a T-Mobile customer and I work for a boutique internet radio provider who participates in Music Freedom... so I certainly do benefit from the programs. I just wonder what kind of long-term cost it'll have when consumer-friendly programs like this become standard and less-friendly versions take their place.


Yeah, Net Neutrality was a lot easier to get behind when no service providers were really marketing the alternative. This controversy is similar to the Internet.org debate in India.


> This controversy is similar to the Internet.org debate in India.

The difference with Internet.org ("Free Basics") is that, in India, it's very easy to show Free Basics as a move by a foreign country to essentially "buy" India's poor and rural citizens citizens (and therefore, its sovereignty). Given the particular history of India's colonization under British rule, this is a message that resonates very well, which is why advocacy groups have been very successful in garnering opposition to Free Basics. Those who remember colonial rule in India or the decades following are not exactly thrilled about the idea of signing over their rights or power to a foreign corporate entity.

That experience is different in the US, so its reception hasn't seen the same level of opposition here as it does in India.


Net Neutrality or not, it's a shitty service. My video quality went to shit a few months back and I didn't know why. It was because I was opted into this nonsense. Which is just allowing them to throttle your speeds in exchange for unlimited data.


The problem for Net Neutrality advocates is that T-Mobile's customers don't care one bit. They love the fact that they don't have to pay for streaming video and that they pay less for video on non-supported services. It is even causing customers of other carriers to ask their carriers to not be net neutral so that they can save money. This is one case where net neutrality is not anti-consumer or anti-competitive and it is hurting the net neutrality case to make such a big deal about it.


This is anti-consumer because it takes the decision of which streaming provider that I want to use as a consumer and puts it into the hands of my Internet provider.

This is anti-competetive because if I am the creator of a new streaming service, I do not have a level playing field with the competing "free" streaming services offered at zero rating. I may also be forced to play ball with this provider in order to comply with the demands to be zero-rated, again limiting my ability to be competitive.


You have other mobile providers to pick from, and can also opt out of BingeOn if you elect to stay on T-Mobile.

The people complaining are those who are pedantic about net neutrality. That's not how you're going to win over 300 million Americans. (As untog mentions elsewhere in this thread, "This is how net neutrality dies, if we're not careful.")

Disclaimer: T-Mobile customer, previous EFF contributor who stopped donating after their campaign against T-Mobile's BingeOn


In principle, I think Binge On is an example of poor net neutrality. It's a service provider engaging in a conflict of interest with content creators. I think those two roles should always be separate.

Similar to Comcast owning NBC and degrading performance of other streaming services: It's immoral. What T-Mo is doing is the same: They are charging you more to access your local music server, or your friend's startup, than they are for the 'big players' in the market. It's harmful in the long term.

Disclaimer: T-Mobile customer, current EFF contributor


"They are charging you more to access your local music server, or your friend's startup, than they are for the 'big players' in the market."

That's the crux though, right? If they can make their network more efficient by offering services in specific ways that consumers can opt-out of, why shouldn't they be allowed to? Because we like the principal that all bits are equal, regardless of protocol, service, or network? Because that just ain't the case. It doesn't take a CCIE to tell you that.

EDIT: Yes, I agree that T-Mobile would be doing something "bad" if they were performing these activities for "real" anticompetitive purposes (promoting their own services, like AT&T and Comcast do). But if they're truly using it as a network management tool, which it appears they are based on the technical requirements, why should it not be allowed? Especially if you can opt-out?


So if T-Mobile had an open, technically feasible process by which any service could participate in the program given technical criteria, it would be a step in the right direction.

example: If product X can provide this many CDN nodes and this much peering directly to T-Mo, then they are allowed to participate in Binge-On.


I agree with this. It's not about peering though, it's about limiting the bitrate of the video and music content.


Because on the other side, not everyone can opt in. Also, it's misleading marketing.


> Because on the other side, not everyone can opt in.

Can you provide evidence of this? That you're not permitted to opt in if you've met their technical guidelines?

> Also, it's misleading marketing.

Can you explain which part is misleading?


if it was opt-in (edit: for the consumer) instead does that change the argument in any way?

I remember that being a common recommended consideration when the program launched.


There's absolutely nothing stopping you from continuing to use your preferred streaming provider. On an individual consumer level, the worst possible outcome is you continue to pay the same prices you always paid to access the same service you always used.


Current data plan prices aren't exactly cheap and you get a discount for using "approved" services. Nothing is stopping you from going on as before, but T-Mo's actions strongly influence consumer behavior and they get to pick the winners.


I'm not sure BingeOn does in fact violate the rules. The Stanford article seems more like advocacy than scholarship, though the author makes reasonable arguments that are worth considering. TMO's strategy, if I can impute such a thing based on public info, is to introduce a service that doesn't technically violate the rules but does get customers used to the idea that mobile carriers can impose their own technically, if not legally discriminatory limits, on third-party services. TMO can be patient to wait for the customer mindset to change, or the rules to change, and then pow start figuring out how to monetize this strategy.

I'm sure your right that the average TMO customer is oblivious to the politics of this, and/or is happy to make the Faustian bargain if it means their Downton Abbey reruns buffer a bit faster.


No it doesn't. It shows that supporters of net neutrality understand the issue is deeper than just "someone is slowing down access to specific content on the net and thats bad". This is anti-competitive, t-mobile is the gate keeper for what services can stream for 'free' on their service.


This is way less anti-competitive than a lot of other shit in the telecom space. Like Apple extorting 30% rent off of any software on the phone I paid for.

Or Google taking marketshare because it can offer free software due to its monopoly over websearching.


Does T-Mobile have a monopoly on mobile service in the US? Last time I checked, they were #3 out of 4 carriers. They don't have enough ground for it to be considered anticompetitive.


It's not anticompetitive with respect to other carriers, it's anticompetitive with respect to non-Binge web services.


As a T-Mobile customer, I don't care about other non-Binge web services. I'm paying T-Mobile, not them. Meet their BingeOn guidelines, or make the value prop compelling enough for me to burn my data quota up on you. Otherwise, you're asking me to subsidize your service through my monthly rates to allow your innovation or "freedom of expression".


...and that's exactly why discriminatory deals like BingeOn should not be allowed. If Tmo wants to offer unlimited 2mbit traffic, let them offer it for all sites equally.


I'd rather not subsidize an interpretation of idealism through my mobile bills.


You've got it backward; all the other sites are subsidizing your unlimited (but site-restricted) streaming.

Here's how to do something like BingeOn right: work with IETF to define a QoS flag that indicates streaming video, allow customers to opt in to throttling of that flag, then make sure everybody knows that they don't have to coordinate with Tmobile -- any provider can use the flag, and any carrier can honor it. Finally, the carrier could put an icon in the phone status bar (or an LED on a hotspot) indicating whether the current video streams are throttled and free.


just because they don't have a majority doesn't mean its not anticompetitive.


Without a monopoly, anticompetitive behavior is going to be much more difficult to prosecute.


Rofl... this is the US, to prosecute anyone for being anticompetitive is almost impossible.


This is one case where net neutrality is not anti-consumer or anti-competitive and it is hurting the net neutrality case to make such a big deal about it.

I disagree. What if I want to use my phone connection to remote desktop into servers a lot? I don't get a BingeOn allowance for that. Why not?


Devil's Advocate argument attempting to answer your 2nd question:

Because the [total cost/user] value is much lower on streaming video. They can charge thousands-millions of customers a small amount to be able to stream the same sets of videos. A similar comparison would be a shared, public concert vs a private concert for your family alone. Those things have much different costs.

I'm not saying that that's good or bad, but does that help you understand the argument?


T-mobile won't give you the BingOn allowance for this. If they lose in court, you will still need to pay for this and for videos.


Yes, I know. But my point is why should I penalized as a "remote desktop user", when a "video user" is not?


You're not being penalized. You're simply not being granted an advantage of zero rated traffic because you're using network traffic (an encrypted remote desktop session) that can't be managed in the same way video traffic can be.

Not all bits are created equally.


You're not being penalized. You're simply not being granted an advantage

But is there a meaningful difference there?

Not all bits are created equally.

That notion is literally the core of the Net Neutrality debate.

---

EDIT: I replied to another post which someone deleted before I could submit. So an elaboration on my point above:

At the end of the day, it's all marketing.

Remote desktop being the "standard rate" and Video being free isn't meaningfully different from Video being the "standard rate" and remote desktop being "standard rate * 1.5". It's just how it's being sold to you.


This is like saying: I make lots of money, why am I penalized because I can't receive welfare?

I suppose we can fight the technicalities of net neutrality, but it will only mean you will pay more money, not less.


This is one case where net neutrality is not anti-consumer or anti-competitive and it is hurting the net neutrality case to make such a big deal about it.

Early in the morning, this sentence seems off.


The fundamental problem here is lack of real competition. If the transport market was not dominated by just a few players, it would not be necessary to use regulation to try and enforce someone's definition of net neutrality. What I want to see is the gov't step in and break up the providers and maintain the last mile network as a public utility. Wireless isn't exactly the same as a wired network, obviously, but wireless bandwidth isn't unlimited either.


Real question: does the fact that you can disable it ameliorate the situation at all? They are not forcing their customers out of freedom. I always assumed there would be customized services that sacrificed freedom for cost—so long as it is not the only feasible option, I don't see a problem here.


Net Neutrality was never about just the customers / consumers. The argument has been made fairly frequently saying Net Neutrality is good for consumers (and it is, in the long run), but it is much more than that.

It also allows small companies to compete freely instead of favoring large incumbent companies. Imagine a world in which Hulu came out first and was zero rated but Netflix was just trying to gain customers. Which service do you think the consumers would be using ?

This is exactly what is happening now, except Netflix, spotify and other services are the large incumbents. Anything new is being penalized because they don't have the customers or voice.


> Anything new is being penalized because they don't have the customers or voice.

This is only on the burst option, though. This is just as much in the consumer's hands as it is the business's. This is precisely why I disabled it—I don't want to have to consider a brand's political standing with T-Mobile to figure out what kind of service I get.


I think they'd have a decent argument that it's just a user controlled QOS feature, except it discriminates against certain services and applications by zero rating data.

If binge on just zero rated any compliant data streams with user acceptance they might have a decent argument they are compliant with net neutrality.

But since I can't set up my Plex server to comply, it's a violation.


t-mobile does the same with spotify in germany. really bad for competing services.


Competing services can apply to be included in the program based on technical specifications (limit your bitrate, clearly identify the traffic as video).


Sure, in theory, but in practice we're seeing big companies like Amazon Music, Google Play Videos, Youtube not being able to move on just T-Mobile.

Complexity also increases as each ISP gets to choose their own rules.

Besides, I, as a consumer want to be able to use Amazon Prime Music / Video at 0, whether Amazon wants to take the time to set it up or not.


Unfortunately, as a consumer, you don't have the technical resources to integrate your video provider with T-Mobile for them to support BingeOn. Your options are to wait, or move to another cellular provider (which doesn't, of course, have BingeOn).

That is why BingeOn is offered. T-Mobile receives a network efficiency benefit, which they pass along to their users as unlimited video. Just because the user complains they want something, doesn't mean they get it.

As always, the customer is not always right.


So bend to our will and provide what we demand and we will deliver your content with the same advantages as we do for others.

How is that not a net neutrality issue???


Limiting your bitrate for network efficiency isn't unreasonable. A user can even opt out FFS!


It’s free shipping. I know people don’t like to hear this. The market for mobile “shippers” is more competitive than that in the physical world, in fact.

The analogy is not perfect, but if one objects to this then one objects to Amazon or vendors offering free shipping, which is a benefit that puts them ahead of competitors, and (might) lead the consumer to include it in their decision-making.

This also shows the tension between neutrality advocacy and consumer benefit. In a PR sense, it’s very hard to win, when most consumers only see the benefit. (I happen to side with consumers on this.)


Imagine if only Fedex got to decide who got free shipping?


Fedex probably does charge different prices to different shippers.

Which I think for the purposes of the comparison you are making is the same thing (that is, Fedex does make exclusive deals that are advantageous to Fedex).


Different prices, sure. Free shipping, not so much.


Doesn't the exclusivity matter more than the free?


No. If Fedex won't deal with you then you can always go to UPS.

Free is the kingmaker. If Fedex is free, you will do whatever it takes to get on their "good boy" list. You cannot afford to pay for shipping if your competitors are getting it for free.


will do whatever it takes to get on their "good boy" list

That isn't true. If Fedex charges good boys $0 and everyone else $10, everyone else will only bother with the good boy list if it will save them the $10 per item.


You kind of made my point there. This pricing structure will deter anybody from competing in the market that cannot absorb the cost of making it onto the good boy list.


I appreciate that the paper does discuss AT&T, Verizon and Comcast also offering zero rating but only in the case that content is provided by AT&T, Verizon or Comcast.


Down vote all you want, but let's be honest. We here are nerds. We know the fundamentals of how the Internet works.

And cost occurs somewhere. This ain't all for free. There are electricity bills to pay, bandwidth with 3rd parties to pay for, and blades to physically source.

Video on demand is damn resource intensive. This isn't about delivering bytes which UTF-16 decoded speak about about a government. This isn't about delivering bytes which primarily educate. this is about Netflix n' Chill. It's about watching Modern Family on the commute home, and consumers loving it.

A lot of the cost for this love, especially in mobile, is paid for by the ISPs. They have to physically deliver this traffic to your device via nodes for $19.99 a month. And damn them if a loading spinner appears. "My Internets rubbish...I'm gonna switch to Acme Internet...they have free Netflix streaming."

So let's not lose focus: all software we write is for the end consumer...we need to create great, appreciated experiences for our users, otherwise they just unsubscribe.

T-Mobile is doing just that. This isn't a philisophical debate. It's about providing end users what they want. And they want Netflix on their mobile without costing them more. And lambasting T-Mobile for doing such is missing the entire constitution of the Internet.

Let them eat cake!


No, it's about me being able to get the content of my choice at the same rate as the big boys. If I want to watch a programming live stream (I'm not much for modern family.), I should be able to do it at the same cost as any other bits over the air. Here, producers that that pay T-mobile will have an advantage. In ten years, we'll be boxed back into the same tired old content like we are with cable television. No thanks.


And if you opt out of BingeOn, you have exactly that.


Except they'll make it cost prohibitive to stream anything but those that pay the fee to T-Moble by artificially increasing the price for data.


That seems to me like that would be the time to be outraged.

As near as I can tell, this seems like the #3 or 4 mobile carrier looking for a reason to make themselves appear better to a market segment than the #1 or #2 carriers. Jacking up prices seems antithetical to that mission.

I understand what people want out of net neutrality and all that, but I personally think that the outrage should be saved for things that are outrageous. Giving things away for free, even if there are ulterior motives attached, doesn't seem to rise to that level, in my opinion.


So what, this happens everywhere in the market. Why do you think small stores and bodegas put a minimum of $10 for payment via credit card? Because the large chain stores get better rates from Visa and Master Card. Many times I go to Starbucks instead of some small cafe when I don't have enough cash because I know I would be able to pay by card.

Shipping companies offer better shipping rates to commercial companies than to a small startup.

This is just called 'price discrimination' and is a very valid economic concept.




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