EFF Proves T-Mobile Is Throttling YouTube
January 9th, 2016 | by Kevin James Krotz
Company’s Binge-On Service Violates Net Neutrality
T-Mobile’s recently launched “Binge On” service has come under fire for the way it handles the streaming/downloading of video on a cellular connection. Binge On gives T-Mobile users a way to watch videos from certain services while not using their cellular data.
While on service all video is shown at “DVD quality,” or around 480p resolution, but T-Mobile has been accused of merely throttling video content from several services, including Google’s YouTube. T-Mobile has stated that it’s not throttling YouTube, instead they claim they’re just “optimizing” it, but the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) has discovered that that claim is true.
EFF Claims T-Mobile is Violating Net Neutrality
The EFF conducted tests and found that T-Mobile throttles every video download and stream to 1.5Mbps, forcing the streams to play at 480p quality.
“The first result of our test confirms that when Binge On is enabled, T-Mobile throttles all HTML5 video streams to around 1.5 Mps, even when the phone is capable of downloading at higher speeds, and regardless of whether or not the video provider enrolled in Binge On,” the EFF wrote. “This is the case whether the video is being streamed or being downloaded—which means that T-Mobile is artificially reducing the download speeds of customers with Binge On enabled, even if they’re downloading the video to watch later. It also means that videos are being throttled even if they’re being watched or downloaded to another device via a tethered connection.”
The EFF says that T-Mobile’s optimization claim is false because the company reduces download speeds to 1.5Mbps for any video.
“If the video is more than 480p and the server sending the video doesn’t have a way to reduce or adapt the bitrate of the video as it’s being streamed, the result is stuttering and uneven streaming—exactly the opposite of the experience T-Mobile claims their ‘optimization’ will have.”
T-Mobile throttling these streams means they are violating the FCC’s Open Internet Order, which states that ISPs “shall not impair or degrade lawful Internet traffic on the basis of Internet content, application, or service … subject to reasonable network management.” The EFF recommends that the FCC should intervene in the matter if T-Mobile continues to throttle connections using Binge-On (which is enabled by default) and states that the company should change the service to be an opt-in choice.