YouTube appears to be not so happy with T-Mobile, as it alleges that the carrier reduces its video quality without any official agreement between the two. A YouTube spokesperson has confirmed to the Wall Street Journal that T-Mobile downgrades the quality of its videos to 480p, thereby trying to limit data usage.
“Reducing data charges can be good for users,” he told the publication, “but it doesn’t justify throttling all video services, especially without explicit user consent.”
The problem stems from T–Mobile’s new Binge On program, which essentially allows users to watch videos from select streaming services without consuming their data allowance. The program was launched by T-Mobile last month with a select few partners that include the likes of Netflix, HBO Go, and notably, YouTube isn’t a part of the program. Hence, YouTube’s streaming quality is by default reduced, and T-Mobile customers apparently get no benefit out of it as it still counts towards data charges.
Apart from just reducing the quality of videos whether it’s coming from their list of partners, T-Mobile has also been accused of not informing its customers that Binge On is automatically activated. The feature can be turned off anytime, though T-Mobile customers aren’t really aware that the option exists. T-Mobile hasn’t provided an official response to YouTube’s allegations, apart from a rather gimmicky promotional message about how to deactivate Binge On if they wish to. T-Mobile customers for obvious reasons aren’t happy about it going by their response on Twitter, suggesting they have been kept in the dark by their carrier.
Even the Federal Communications Commissions is now looking into T-Mobile’s move to allow certain streaming services to be used without any data charges. Just last week, the carrier received a letter from the commission asking them to provide additional information about its Binge On program along with its music streaming program called Music Freedom. The FCC net neutrality rules disallow such practices, but the commission is yet to ascertain whether programs like Binge On are in clear violation of such rules.