back to article T-Mobile US's BingeOn does break net neutrality, says law prof

The T-Mobile US Binge On video service does in fact break network neutrality and so is illegal. That's according to Stanford law professor Barbara van Schewick, who has gone to the trouble of writing 51 pages of analysis [PDF] over the controversial throttled service to reach her conclusion. "Binge On undermines the core …

  1. leexgx

    big fuss over nothing

    i cant see the fuss in all of this

    if you don't like BringOn we'll Turn it off

    simples (when t-mobile was a thing in the UK mobile broadband sticks had compression options that you could turn off and on if you wished)

    if traffic shaping was permanently set to 480p like quality (600kbs?) then that would be a problem

    when T-mobile was a thing in the UK can traffic shape right to the bit rate limit some how as that how it used to annoying fail in the UK, had to use a VPN to get full speeds as they was streaming the youtube video dead on bit rate it was streaming at so had no chance to refill the buffer at any time apart from when it ran out, which happened every 10 seconds (VPN active it let it fill at 30 second buffer)

    1. Kevin McMurtrie Silver badge

      Re: big fuss over nothing

      T-Mo announced it as an option and invited people to turn it on. Of course I deleted the e-mail. Then they silently turned it on for everyone and broke high quality video playback. That second part is quite worthy of raising a fuss. Everybody was suddenly throttled and it wasn't clear why. Anyone who had set their streaming preference to HD, or watched a video only offered in HD, got nothing. Today they announced dial codes to control the feature but they still haven't announced that it's an opt-out feature.

    2. paulf

      Re: big fuss over nothing

      The best argument for why Binge on is wrong (along with all other schemes that are at odds with net nutrality) I've seen so far is this comment by AdamWill

      TL;DR Establish the principle that a two tier internet is acceptable (preferred tier, and everything else) through differentiated pricing that cuts the price of everything in the preferred tier. Once established, at some point in the future, start ramping up the charges for stuff inside the preferred tier and by much more for anything outside the preferred tier.

      I don't live in Murrica so it's harder for me to see how T-Mo US's campaigns under Legere are affecting the market. That said the reports I've seen show T-Mo US are shaking up the market to a tangible extent which is chipping away at the bigger 3's oligopoly. Unfortunately things like Binge-on will only undermine what T-Mo have done so far as it shows that in time they could be just as pernicious as the bigger three.

    3. druck Silver badge
      Thumb Down


      Only two things missing from your post; capital letters, and arranging words in an order that makes sense.

      1. leexgx


        Picky (i just type what i think, at least it was not a wall of text)

        I still think the BingeOn is fine as once you're aware of it (i assume via text and email) you can just turn it off or back on (main benefit is companies that are opted in does not count towards your data allowance)

        1. Kurt Meyer

          Re: Picky

          @leexgx - An example of why capitalisation is important. It's the difference between "Helping your brother Jack off a horse" and "Helping your brother jack off a horse".

  2. John Robson Silver badge


    ""Even if T-Mobile could somehow add every single video provider to Binge On – large and small, commercial and non-commercial – the program would still violate net neutrality," she argues. "Binge On favors video streaming over all other Internet uses, even those that use the same amount of bandwidth or less. As long as Binge On gives special treatment to video as a class, it undermines the vision of an open Internet, where all applications have an equal chance of reaching audiences – and people, not ISPs, choose how to use the bandwidth available to them.""

    Special treatment as a class isn't the issue - we need that for VoIP >>> P2P control.

    What's at issue is whether it's special treatment per provider...

    1. Preston Munchensonton

      Re: No....

      This is the fundamental problem with the concept of Net Neutrality. Regardless of the motive, Net Neutrality as constructed and described prevents ISPs from effectively managing their network.

      For example, most networks provide priority to network protocols like BGP, so that routing updates don't accidently hit /dev/null when congestion occurs. That behavior violates Net Neutrality, as it prefers one type of traffic over another.

      On a personal note, I'm glad that our ISP overlords are managing their networks and not just taking cues from fucktard bureaucrats that don't understand a thing about the industries that they regulate. The unfortunate effect of these rules will be to drive out competition, not foster more of it. As the price of compliance continues to rise, more ISPs will exit the industry, even more so that we've seen in the past.

    2. Charles 9 Silver badge

      Re: No....

      So what if I route all my traffic through a VPN? Then how will they tell what's VOIP traffic and what's VOD traffic?

      1. Preston Munchensonton

        Re: No....

        So what if I route all my traffic through a VPN? Then how will they tell what's VOIP traffic and what's VOD traffic?

        Obviously, the ISP can't tell. In those cases, private networks (like MPLS) would require premarking the QoS settings for treatment. ISPs don't handle such markings today, though many of them actively use MPLS and certainly could implement such a scheme if people were willing to pay more for a premium service (but we're all wankers, so no).

        VoD is video on demand, i.e. streaming video a la YouTube, Netflix, etc.

        1. Charles 9 Silver badge

          Re: No....

          Given that, what if someone cheats and disguises a low-priority packet as a high-priority one? And then further muddies the water by encrypting the contents to prevent a deeper inspection? Sounds a lot like gaming the system to me, which is why at some point you just have to drop the clipboard and just get everyone in queue because at some point everything will look like a high-priority packet.

  3. paulf

    Who funded the report?

    From what I know of binge-on and the details of the report in this article, I agree with her conclusion and that she offers alternatives for T-Mobile US that are more likely compliant with Net neutrality regs suggests she isn't out purely to criticise.

    But to see it fully in context it would be useful to know who funded her work. I'm guessing she didn't throw the report together in an evening in front of the telly. Unfortunately Murrica tends to be a mesh of interconnected corporate vested interests. Did she do it in her spare time out of pure academic interest or was it funded by something like "The institute for the better understanding of cellular radio utilisation, a division of AT&T (Cayman islands) Inc".

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    "Offer a zero-rated low-bandwidth mode at the same speed"

    What the hell does this mean? Low bandwidth at the same speed? Color me confused.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Huh?

      You're right - that's terribly worded. That said, I think someone probably meant for all content.

    2. John Robson Silver badge

      Re: Huh?

      A zero rated low bandwidth mode...

      i.e. you can elect to have your data unmetered if you have it at a lower bandwith. the same speed

      That lower bandwidth will be equivilant to the bandwidth required for streaming on BingeOn.

  5. erguergu

    Wow, it's chilling how easy it is to pull the wool over the eyes of consumers. The commentary is focused on the 480p playback... that's a red herring, one that I didn't even notice. The true crime here is that this policy successfully buries "what consumers don't like" in a sea of collusion. Let me explain. Five years from now, after this collusion has permeated all of the mobile carriers, let's say I decide that I can create the next YouTube competitor. I have some great ideas for how to create something that content creators and consumers will like a lot better than what YouTube is today. Pulling that off will be hard, I'll have to get enough capital together to create the infrastructure, I'll have to convince loads of content creators AND consumers to come to my currently empty service, and I'll have to deal with all of the overhead that goes with starting a business in today's DMCA'd world. Pretty tall order. Oh, oops, also, now that Net Neutrality no longer exists, I also have to somehow convince the other GATEKEEPERS (TMobile, AT&T, Verizon) to let me compete on the same footing as YouTube, for, YouTube gets free mobile bandwidth. I do not. This puts me, and any other small-scale competitors at a catastrophic disadvantage. Sure, I might succeed, but I'll have to beat a cartel. Sure, that happens sometimes, but not as often as it fails. And because of that, once YouTube and Netflix and HBO get into the cartel, they serve the cartel, not you. You are just one of their assets at that point. You certainly aren't going to any other service provider, so you can watch their content, or nothing. And largely, you'll like it because your lack of imagination that prevented you from seeing this coming also prevents you from seeing the next phase in your loss of rights. You were really only going to watch cat videos all day, and when the cartel has full control, the cat videos will keep coming. However, once the cartel is the single source for user-generated videos (they are the single source because any other source requires use of your data plan, which, now that everything you 'care' about is free, can be shrunken to nothing), totalitarian governments will have a very convenient, clearly defined path to take when they want to silence unpopular speech. Damning video that disproves our claims that minorities are not subject to police brutality? No matter, make YouTube take it down. We don't even need to threaten to rescind their cartel status, they know it will happen. And this absolutely will happen. It already happens in the third world today. Many countries in today's third world used to be pinnacles of free thought and human advancement. Allowing democratic free speech to be buried under the weight of oligopolies is, in my view, the first nail in the coffin of first-world brilliance.

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