FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler offered nothing but praise when asked about T-Mobile’s new Binge On feature during a recent FCC meeting.
In response to a question about whether or not Binge On raises any net neutrality concerns, Wheeler said it’s clear in the Open Internet Order that the FCC is pro-competition and pro-innovation. Binge On clearly meets both of those criteria, he continued, as it is highly innovative and highly competitive.
The chairman added that he chuckles at the fact that as we’re debating this, everyone was saying, ‘oh this is going to thwart innovation, it’s going to be terrible, people are going to come to the FCC to say, “mother, may I?” before they do anything. That certainly didn’t happen here, Wheeler said.
T-Mobile announced Binge On roughly a week and a half ago. For the uninitiated, the feature exempts 24 streaming video services including Netflix, Hulu, HBO and Sling TV from counting against subscribers’ data usage. To do this, the carrier “optimizes” incoming streams by dropping their quality down to 480p (DVD quality).
Binge On is similar to Music Freedom, the carrier’s streaming music initiative in which tunes streamed from participating providers doesn’t count against a user’s monthly data allotment.
T-Mobile is upfront about the fact that any provider is welcome to join the program free of charge so long as they adhere to its policies.
Those opposed to Binge On question whether or not consumers will be more likely to gravitate to participating streaming providers for the simple fact that streaming wouldn’t count against their data (rather than selecting a streaming provider based on its service, price or other factors).