T-Mobile’s Binge On Violates Key Net Neutrality Principles

Article Source: Center for Internet and Society blog, Stanford Law School, January 29, 2016
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T-Mobile’s “Binge On” plan allows customers to stream some video providers without using up their data plan cap. The FCC will assess whether the plan violates net neutrality rules. “Binge On” favors some providers and services over others, limiting choice, innovation, and competition.


Policy Relevance:

“Binge On” violates key net neutrality principles.


Key Takeaways:
  • Carriers’ “zero rating” plans allow customers to use some broadband services for free, that is, without using their data plans.
  • The Federal Communications Commission considers on a case-by-case basis whether a given zero rating plan harms Internet openness by restricting consumer choice, competition, innovation, or free speech.
  • In 2015, T-Mobile launched "Binge On," which offers “unlimited” video streaming from some providers; streaming from these providers does not count against the user's data plan cap.
  • “Binge On” makes some video content more attractive than other video content, because people prefer to stream video that does not count against their data cap.
  • “Binge On” limits consumer choice, because consumers can consume only 9 minutes of video a day from providers not in the program.
  • T-Mobile allows any video provider to join who meets their technical requirements, but many small providers cannot easily meet these requirements.
  • “Binge On” favors the consumption of video over other uses of the Internet.
  • T-Mobile advertising for “Binge On” is misleading because streaming is not really “unlimited.”



Barbara van Schewick

About Barbara van Schewick

Barbara van Schewick is the M. Elizabeth Magill Professor of Law at Stanford Law School, Director of Stanford Law School’s Center for Internet and Society, and Professor by courtesy of Electrical Engineering in Stanford University’s Department of Electrical Engineering. Her research focuses on the economic, regulatory, and strategic implications of communication networks. In particular, she explores how changes in the architecture of computer networks affect the economic environment for innovation and competition on the Internet, and how the law should react to these changes.

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