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.
> 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.
I don't know how this can be open to interpretation, by anyone. self-described "t-mobile fan" or not.
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).
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.
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.
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.
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.
HD Voice is similar, it needs wide adoption to start paying dividends, and I hope it starts being opt-out instead of opt-in.
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?
"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."
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).
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.
"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."
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.
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.
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.
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?
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.
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.
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.
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?
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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
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?
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.
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?
I remember that being a common recommended consideration when the program launched.
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.
Or Google taking marketshare because it can offer free software due to its monopoly over websearching.
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.
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?
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?
Not all bits are created equally.
But is there a meaningful difference there?
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.
I suppose we can fight the technicalities of net neutrality, but it will only mean you will pay more money, not less.
Early in the morning, this sentence seems off.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
How is that not a net neutrality issue???
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.)
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).
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.