YouTube Accuses T-Mobile of Downgrading All Video With Binge On Program

YouTube this morning provided a statement to The Wall Street Journal criticizing T-Mobile’s recently introduced Binge On program and accusing T-Mobile of throttling all video and not just the video of its Binge On partners.

Launched in November, Binge On is a T-Mobile video service that allows T-Mobile subscribers to watch video from content partners without it counting against customer data plans. The catch is that it uses a proprietary data compression algorithm to stream the video in 480p. While Binge On can be disabled, using the feature requires partner video to be watched in 480p, which T-Mobile calls „DVD quality.“

T-Mobile has 24 partners for Binge On, including Netflix, HBO, Sling TV, and more, but YouTube has not signed up to participate. Despite the fact that YouTube is not partnering with T-Mobile, the company says its video streams are still being downgraded to 480p quality, a problem YouTube would like fixed.

YouTube, which is owned by Alphabet Inc., said T-Mobile is effectively throttling, or degrading, its traffic. „Reducing data charges can be good for users, but it doesn’t justify throttling all video services, especially without explicit user consent,“ a YouTube spokesman said.

The Internet Association also backed up YouTube’s claim, stating that T-Mobile’s Binge On service „appears to involve the throttling of all video traffic, across all data plans, regardless of network congestion.“

T-Mobile did not address YouTube’s complaints when questioned by The Wall Street Journal, instead giving a blanket statement about Binge On. Customers love „free streaming video that never hits their data bucket“ and „the quality of their video experience and the complete control they have.“

The United States Federal Communications Commission is looking into Binge On along with free data services from AT&T and Comcast. While there is no formal inquiry at this time, the FCC has asked the three companies to answer some questions about their free data practices. YouTube’s accusations could further spark the FCC’s interest, especially as some consumer advocates believe that programs like Binge On violate net neutrality rules.

Tags: T-Mobile, YouTube
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Verizon’s Wi-Fi Calling Coming to Galaxy S6 on Monday, iPhone ‘Early Next Year’

Verizon yesterday announced that it will begin rolling out support for Wi-Fi Calling next week, starting on Monday with Samsung’s Galaxy S6 and S6 Edge. iPhone users will need to wait a bit longer, with an update enabling the feature expected „early next year.“

Wi-Fi Calling will initially be available on the Samsung Galaxy S 6 and Samsung Galaxy S 6 Edge and will be rolled out as a software update in phases. Additional Android and iOS devices will receive Wi-Fi Calling capabilities via future software updates expected early next year.

Wi-Fi Calling allows phone calls to be automatically placed over Wi-Fi connections in areas where cellular service is poor, seamlessly transitioning between cellular and Wi-Fi as needed.

Sprint and T-Mobile have supported the feature for some time, and AT&T launched its support in early October. AT&T made waves by claiming Sprint and T-Mobile have been offering the feature illegally, due to Federal Communications Commission requirements for supporting a teletypewriter (TTY) feature for deaf and hard-of-hearing users.

AT&T received its waiver from the FCC just days later, and Verizon followed with its own request, with the FCC approving it several weeks ago. Sprint and T-Mobile have not received waivers from the FCC, but continue to operate Wi-Fi Calling and believe no waiver is required.

Tags: Verizon, Wi-Fi calling
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Verizon Gets Green Light on FCC Waiver Needed for Wi-Fi Calling

Verizon Wireless is the only major carrier in the United States that has not introduced Wi-Fi calling, but it appears that could change in the near future as the FCC today approved the company’s request for an FCC waiver [PDF] that will allow it to move ahead with its plans.

Like AT&T, Verizon applied for an FCC waiver to delay implementing a teletypewriter (TTY) service for deaf and hard-of-hearing people until December 31, 2017. Verizon plans to use real-time text (RTT) as an alternative and the waiver will allow it to avoid offering a TTY service until its RTT technology is deployed and operational.

On its website, Verizon says it plans to support Wi-Fi calling „in the future,“ but has not specified when Wi-Fi calling could be implemented. When AT&T was approved for Wi-Fi calling, the feature was turned on within days of receiving the go ahead from the FCC.

Wi-Fi calling will allow Verizon customers to make phone calls over Wi-Fi in situations where their cellular signal is low, automatically transitioning between Wi-Fi and a cellular connection as needed. AT&T, Sprint, and T-Mobile have all already implemented Wi-Fi calling, but Sprint and T-Mobile have done so without obtaining the necessary waivers from the FCC.

Tags: FCC, Verizon, Wi-Fi calling
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AT&T Receives FCC Waiver Needed for Wi-Fi Calling, No Launch Date Yet

Earlier this week, AT&T announced that it had delayed its promised Wi-Fi calling feature as it had not been able to obtain an FCC waiver that would allow it to temporarily forgo offering support options for deaf and hard-of-hearing people. Following that announcement, the FCC has now granted AT&T’s waiver request, allowing the carrier to proceed with its Wi-Fi calling launch plans.

The waiver is available on the FCC website [PDF] and grants AT&T the right to delay implementing a teletypewriter (TTY) service for the deaf until December 31, 2017. AT&T plans to instead use a newer form of communication, real-time text (RTT) as an alternative, and the waiver will allow it to avoid using a TTY service until its RTT service is fully operational.

In response to the FCC’s waiver grant, AT&T Senior Executive Vice President of External and Legislative Affairs Jim Cicconi gave MacRumors the following statement:

We’re grateful the FCC has granted AT&T’s waiver request so we can begin providing Wi-Fi calling. At the same time we are left scratching our heads as to why the FCC still seems intent on excusing the behavior of T-Mobile and Sprint, who have been offering these services without a waiver for quite some time. Instead of initiating enforcement action against them, or at least opening an investigation, the agency has effectively invited them to now apply for similar waivers and implied that their prior flaunting of FCC rules will be ignored. This is exactly what we meant when our letter spoke of concerns about asymmetric regulation.“

In its original statement on the waiver delay, AT&T called out Sprint and T-Mobile for implementing Wi-Fi calling without obtaining similar permissions from the FCC, a sentiment that is again echoed in the above statement. Both T-Mobile and Sprint have allegedly implemented their Wi-Fi calling features without requesting a waiver for TTY rules.

Though AT&T now has its waiver, the company has not yet provided a timeline on when its subscribers can expect to have access to Wi-Fi calling. Ahead of the waiver fiasco, AT&T made Wi-Fi calling available during the iOS beta testing period, suggesting it is ready to debut in the near future.

(Thanks, Ryan!)



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FCC slams AT&T with $100 million fine for throttling unlimited data plans

The Federal Communications Commission announced today that it’s slapping AT&T with a hefty fine for misleading subscribers about unlimited data plans. At a grand total of $100 million, it’s the largest fine the agency has proposed, after AT&T was caught…Read more ›



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FCC slams AT&T with $100 million fine for throttling unlimited data plans

The Federal Communications Commission announced today that it’s slapping AT&T with a hefty fine for misleading subscribers about unlimited data plans. At a grand total of $100 million, it’s the largest fine the agency has proposed, after AT&T was caught…Read more ›



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AT&T Fined $100 Million by FCC for Unlimited Data Throttling Practices

The United States Federal Communications Commission today announced plans to fine AT&T $100 million for misleading customers about its unlimited mobile data plans. Following an investigation, the FCC is accusing AT&T of severely slowing down the data speeds of customers with unlimited data plans and failing to adequately warn them about the slower data speeds.

In 2011, AT&T implemented a „Maximum Bit Rate“ policy and capped the maximum data speeds for unlimited customers after they used a set amount of data within a billing cycle. The capped speeds were much slower than the normal network speeds AT&T advertised and significantly impaired the ability of AT&T customers to access the Internet or use data applications for the remainder of the billing cycle.

The FCC says AT&T violated the 2010 Open Internet Transparency Rule by falsely calling its plans „unlimited“ and by not informing customers of the maximum speed they would receive under AT&T’s Maximum Bit Rate policy. Millions of customers suffered slow data speeds, with some seeing speed reductions for 12 days per month on average.

On the decision, FCC chairman Tom Wheeler had this to say: „Customers deserve to get what they pay for. Broadband providers must be upfront and transparent about the services they provide. The FCC will not stand idly by while consumers are deceived by misleading marketing materials and insufficient disclosure.“

AT&T ceased offering unlimited data plans years ago, but it continues to have customers with grandfathered unlimited data plans. AT&T previously throttled all of those customers after they exceeded 5GB of LTE data, but in May, AT&T implemented a policy change that sees customers being throttled only when connected to a cell tower experiencing network congestion.

Along with facing a $100 million fine levied by the FCC, AT&T is also involved in an ongoing lawsuit with the Federal Trade Commission over the same issue.





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Steve Wozniak declares FCC’s net neutrality ruling a ‘victory for the people’

Today the FCC made a historic move to protect net neutrality. By reclassifying ISPs under Title II of the Communications Act, the internet is now regulated like a utility. “While some other countries try to control the internet, the action…Read more ›



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