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Google, YouTube and Binge On

Last November, T-Mobile introduced a program called Binge On, which allows video services and users to reduce T-Mobile’s data charges by limiting streaming to a lower resolution that many users find acceptable for watching most videos on their phone screen.

The initial implementation of the Binge On program raised questions from both users and video services, including YouTube. For instance, we didn’t think it was clear how the program would be implemented for video services that were not included in the “free streaming” portion of the Binge On program. We also thought users needed more help to understand how the program worked and how to exercise their options.

Over the last several months, we raised these concerns with T-Mobile, and they’ve heard us and others who provided similar feedback. We’re glad T-Mobile will continue to improve the program for all users and video providers by:

  • Improving notice and choice for users: T-Mobile has been clarifying for users what ‘optimization’ means as well as the impact of turning Binge On on or off. And for those who want to turn it off, they’ve made it easier to do so — rather than having to click through a series of menu items, users can now turn the setting off with an SMS short code and with two clicks from the T-Mobile app and one click from the my.tmobile.com site. Any user can toggle Binge On off and on, and the change will take effect within minutes — which significantly improves the user experience. 
  • Improving information and choice for video services: While T-Mobile has always stated that any video service can join the program at no charge, prior to our discussions, video services were not given a choice about whether their streams would be managed by T-Mobile if they did not join the program. Going forward, any video service meeting traffic-identification requirements will be able to opt-out, and T-Mobile will stop including them in the Binge On program and will no longer modify their video streams. In addition, T-Mobile will now work with video services that wish to optimize their own streams, using an average data rate limit. This allows video services to offer users an improved video experience, even at lower data rates, by taking advantage of innovations such as video compression technology, benefiting T-Mobile, their customers, and video providers. 
We think these changes, which T-Mobile is making for all users and video providers on a non-preferential basis, can help ensure that the program works well for all users and the entire video ecosystem. As a result, YouTube and Google Play Movies & TV are participating in Binge On. Starting today, if you're a T-Mobile user with Binge On enabled, when you watch YouTube or a movie or TV show on Google Play, it won't count against your data cap. We hope our users enjoy this new option.