When the Federal Communications Commission adopted net neutrality rules earlier this year, the goal was to encourage innovation and fairness in the marketplace that would ultimately benefit consumers and help competition thrive.
With that in mind, Tom Wheeler, the chairman of the FCC, said he is heartened by T-Mobile’s free Binge On video streaming services for customers with Simple Choice mobile plans that include more than 3GB of data per month.
Wheeler gave his support to Binge On, which allows customers to consume as much video streaming as they desire each month without using any of their monthly data allotments, at a news conference in Washington, according to a recent report by Bloomberg.
The FCC’s net neutrality rules, which were adopted in February, have a goal of encouraging competition and innovation, and “clearly this meets both of those criteria,” Wheeler said at the news conference, the story reported. “It’s highly innovative and highly competitive.”
Wheeler said his agency will be “keeping an eye on” the Binge On feature to ensure that it complies with the net neutrality rules, which mandate that all content must be delivered equally without favor to any particular providers or companies.
“Wheeler said the agency would review T-Mobile’s Binge On feature under a general-conduct standard, which considers broad circumstances when analyzing whether companies are complying with the FCC’s open-Internet rule,” the story reported.
Questions about whether such services raise net neutrality flags were quickly raised by critics, who said they were concerned that Binge On or similar services could potentially and unfairly leave out other content providers from participating. These kinds of issues are likely to continue to surface each time new services such as Binge On are unveiled by carriers, which is why the FCC said it will monitor their progress and deployment.
T-Mobile unveiled Binge On earlier in November as part of the company’s Un-carrier X announcements. Under Binge On, any T-Mobile customer with a Simple Choice plan that includes at least 3GB of high-speed data will now get free unlimited video streaming on their devices—which won’t count against their data plans.
Under Binge On, customers with qualifying data plans can stream video content from some 24 content providers to start, including HBO, Hulu, Netflix, Showtime, Sling TV, Starz, WatchESPN and more. The video streaming is provided at 480p DVD quality and is optimized to use one-third of the bandwidth that’s normally required for video, according to the company.
In addition to the free streaming video capabilities, the company announced that it is doubling the included data in customers’ Simple Choice plans without raising their monthly bills. Customers who now pay for 1GB of data each month will get 2GB of data, while those who buy 2GB will get 4GB and so on, according to the company.
The Binge On free streaming video feature is open to any streaming video provider that meets T-Mobile’s technical requirements and is free for video content providers to join, according to T-Mobile.
T-Mobile likes to call itself the Un-carrier because it says it does the things that traditional carriers won’t try. In the last few years, T-Mobile’s Un-carrier events have ended mobile contracts for consumers, removed overage charges and brought more innovations for customers.