What T-Mobile's Binge On Video Streaming Program Is All About

 
 
By Don Reisinger  |  Posted 2016-03-23
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
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    What T-Mobile's Binge On Video Streaming Program Is All About
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    What T-Mobile's Binge On Video Streaming Program Is All About

    T-Mobile's Binge On service lets users stream video for free without affecting their monthly data allotment. We examine key features of Binge On.
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    Getting to Know T-Mobile's Binge On
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    Getting to Know T-Mobile's Binge On

    T-Mobile's Binge On is designed for customers to watch video while preserving their monthly data allotment. Users can watch select services as much as they'd like without any of that data counting against their data allotment. Binge On also optimizes video content from services that haven't partnered with T-Mobile. Those services, however, count against the data allotment, but T-Mobile says it can crunch videos down and save up to three times the amount of data they would consume otherwise. Binge On is available free to the company's unlimited plan customers.
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    Why YouTube Stood Aloof From Binge On
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    Why YouTube Stood Aloof From Binge On

    The addition of YouTube to Binge On is a notable development. When T-Mobile launched the Binge On program, YouTube was conspicuously absent from the partner lineup. Google wouldn't participate because it claimed that T-Mobile was unfairly ratcheting traffic and not giving customers a choice. T-Mobile responded by stating that any video service could join the Binge On program. It's unclear how the companies resolved their dispute, but it's nice to see one of the world's most popular video services is now available to T-Mobile users.
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    Other Big-Name Video Services Are Participating
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    Other Big-Name Video Services Are Participating

    YouTube is by no means the only company joining in on the Binge On movement. Customers will find streaming services Netflix and Hulu, along with Watch ESPN and paid cable service HBO Now. The service also supports several other programs, including WWE Network and Showtime. In fact, there are several dozen services optimized for Binge On.
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    T-Mobile Also Optimizes Your Other Video Streams
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    T-Mobile Also Optimizes Your Other Video Streams

    One of the more controversial features in Binge On is that it also works with any other video traveling over T-Mobile's network. So, if a user is watching a video stream from a service that has not optimized its platform for Binge On, T-Mobile will still compress the content. The services that have signed on with T-Mobile have optimized their content for data consumption over cellular networks and preserve their image quality. With all others, T-Mobile compresses the content and, in some cases, the results are very satisfactory.
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    There Are Plan Restrictions
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    There Are Plan Restrictions

    T-Mobile's Binge On is currently only available to customers who have unlimited data plans with monthly allotments of 3GB or more. Customers interested in joining Binge On will, therefore, need to have one of the company's better plans. Everyone else is left out in the cold.
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    Binge On Works Any Cellular-Connected Device
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    Binge On Works Any Cellular-Connected Device

    Since Binge On is most often used with smartphones, it's important to note that the technology works with tablets, too. In fact, T-Mobile says that any tablet connected through its network will be able to use Binge On. Better yet, it can work on a laptop, desktop, or any other device that may be tethered to a T-Mobile-connected device and using its 4G LTE signal for Internet service.
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    What About Families?
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    What About Families?

    According to T-Mobile, it has placed no restrictions on family Binge On use. The service works with all compatible family plans and every family member can independently control his or her own Binge On service. Individual family members can also decide whether to keep it running or turn it off without affecting others.
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    The Service Works Across Apps and Browsers
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    The Service Works Across Apps and Browsers

    Binge On is capable of detecting video streams across browsers and apps. So, if a user is watching YouTube through the company's iOS app, the video quality is automatically optimized to run over the carrier's network. What's more, if the user is watching the same video in the iPhone's Safari browser (or a third-party browser, for that matter), T-Mobile will automatically identify the video stream and optimize its quality accordingly.
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    T-Mobile Is Promising More Streaming Partners
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    T-Mobile Is Promising More Streaming Partners

    Looking ahead, T-Mobile says it's hoping to sign on more streaming partners. The company hasn't provided a timeline for adding more partners, but says that Binge On is open to any streaming service willing to optimize their videos to work with the program. T-Mobile customers can also request that certain video services join Binge On, although entirely at the video services' discretion.
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    Customers Can Turn Off Binge On at Any Time
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    Customers Can Turn Off Binge On at Any Time

    As noted, Binge On collects all the video hitting T-Mobile's network and reduces its size to limit data usage. However, not everyone might want Binge On. After all, if users are watching videos from services that haven't optimized their content for the program, video quality can suffer. T-Mobile, therefore, allows users to disable Binge On at will by either texting the company or accessing their account information. It's worth noting that all eligible T-Mobile customers have Binge On turned on by default.
 

According to a 2015 study by industry analyst Chetan Sharma, it took about 20 years before the average cell phone owner used 1GB of cellular data per month. By 2015, however, the average person's monthly data use stood at 2.5GB of data per month. Those increasingly hungry cell users are swallowing data by running apps, listening to music and increasingly watching video. That was the impetus for T-Mobile's decision last year to launch a service called Binge On. The offering lets users stream video for free without affecting their monthly data allotment. However, YouTube, one of the most popular video destinations in the world, had declined to enter a streaming partnership with T-Mobile until recently. The reasons for YouTube's absence caused a spat between Google and T-Mobile. While they have apparently ironed out their differences, the absence of support for YouTube left a hole in T-Mobile's Binge On platform. Now that YouTube has joined the program, T-Mobile is heavily promoting the advantage of its Binge On service. This slide show discusses what Binge On is all about and its impact on users.

 
 
 
 
 
Don Reisinger is a freelance technology columnist. He started writing about technology for Ziff-Davis' Gearlog.com. Since then, he has written extremely popular columns for CNET.com, Computerworld, InformationWeek, and others. He has appeared numerous times on national television to share his expertise with viewers. You can follow his every move at http://twitter.com/donreisinger.
 
 
 
 
 
 

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