For a company that just announced a year-on-year increase of 8 million new customers, “cool uncle T-Mobile” is starting to look a little less perfect. After lots of controversy and confusion, T-Mobile has finally confirmed that they are throttling bandwidth for video streaming services.
What Happened to Video Quality on T-Mobile?
T-Mobile’s new Binge On program sounds great on paper: all subscribers can now stream as much video as they want from select video streaming services, including Netflix, Hulu, and HBO GO, without it counting against their data plan. It doesn’t support all streaming services–YouTube is noticeably absent, for example–but you can view a list of supported services here.
The problem with this, of course, is that if you start giving away all that high-quality streaming for free, you’re going to have to make sacrifices to compensate. For T-Mobile, that means forcing those videos to play in standard definition 480p instead of higher quality. How do they achieve this? By slowing down your connection on sites that serve streaming video. That way, when the site detects you have a slow connection, it switches the video to SD instead of HD.
Here’s where things get really crazy: T-Mobile is slowing down users’ connection on some video streaming sites even if they aren’t part of the Binge On program. So that means if you’re signed up for Binge On–which, remember, doesn’t support YouTube–it will lower your connection speed on YouTube anyway.
There’s also an element of
How to Disable BingeOn
Luckily for us, the engineers at T-Mobile were smart enough to give users the option to completely turn BingeOn off if they don’t care about 720p full-HD videos from any of these services eating up their data plan.
To accomplish this, you need to begin by logging in to your T-Mobile account online. Once your profile comes up, click in the top-right corner where you see the “Profile” button.
After the page loads, find the section marked “Media Settings”.
From here the first menu item you’ll see is the toggle you can use to manage the BingeOn setting.
Flip it to the “off” position, hit refresh over the next two hours or so to verify it went through. You can test if the full connection has been restored by opening up a YouTube clip that you know has an HD option while using 4G or LTE, and if it streams in high quality with few or no interruptions, the process was successful.
Note: you’ll have to do this individually for every user on your plan that wants to opt out, so don’t forget to click into each one of your family member’s profiles to get the setting disabled completely.
Whether or not giving us the “option” to disable BingeOn after automatically enabling it for millions of customers at once really counts as staying “net neutral”, we can’t say.
Either way, you can still connect to your local WiFi and stream as much as your heart desires without any restrictions, which for the time being should be enough to prevent a riot from forming at T-Mobile’s headquarters.