T-Mobile's Binge On initiative has been criticised over the past couple of weeks after users discovered the mobile network was throttling YouTube video streams, despite YouTube not participating in the data limit free program.
While YouTube has publicly slammed T-Mobile for throttling its video service "without explicit user consent", T-Mobile themselves believe the term 'throttling' is a "misleading" way to describe the situation. According to them, the way Binge On limits video streams to 480p regardless of whether sites participate in the program technically isn't throttling.
A spokesperson for the company has stated that they "aren't slowing down YouTube or any other site." Instead, as the video streams are "optimized for mobile devices", T-Mobile believes they should be "just as fast, if not faster than before". Rather than throttling, the network believes "a better phrase is “mobile optimized” or a less flattering “downgraded” is also accurate."
In practice, YouTube streams on T-Mobile's network are not "faster than before". In fact it's quite the opposite, with many users reporting their YouTube streams are buffering over T-Mobile's LTE network despite clearly having enough bandwidth to a cell tower. As YouTube streams still count to a user's data limit, people are rightly annoyed that their videos are being throttled.
And despite what T-Mobile believes, "throttling" is a perfectly acceptable term to describe this behavior, as the network is reducing and/or limiting the speed of transmissions between a user's device and YouTube's servers. If T-Mobile weren't throttling connections to YouTube, there wouldn't be widespread complaints about buffering on ultra-fast LTE connections.
Through the company's Binge On program, users get data limit free video streaming in exchange for throttled connections to video streaming websites. However, while only a handful of websites participate in the data limit free program, such as Netflix and HBO Go, T-Mobile is throttling connections to a much larger collection of streaming services, which doesn't seem at all fair.
The only way to avoid having your YouTube streams throttled is to disable Binge On from within your T-Mobile account settings. This will cause all video sites to run without limits, although streaming any video will count to your data cap.