If your YouTube videos look a little fuzzy while on the go, T-Mobile may be to blame. YouTube isn’t part of T-Mobile’s Binge On program but its videos are still being throttled on the network.
That’s the claim YouTube is making, as first reported by the Wall Street Journal. But T-Mobile says its all part of the plan to save customers from paying for too much data.
YouTube says its videos are being streamed at 480p quality on T-Mobile’s network, which is the same resolution as videos in the Binge On program. The new feature, which streams lower-quality videos from select apps that don’t count against your data plan, was introduced last month as a way for customers to watch video on the go without burning through expensive data.
“Reducing data charges can be good for users, but it doesn’t justify throttling all video services, especially without explicit user consent,” a YouTube spokesperson said in a statement.
While major video streaming apps like Netflix and HBOGo joined the program, YouTube wasn’t included in the deal. Now, the Alphabet-owned company is claiming that T-Mobile is breaking recent net neutrality rules adopted by the Federal Communications Commission by throttling data from certain sources.
It isn’t the first time T-Mobile’s plan has been accused of going against FCC rules. Just last week, the FCC sent a letter to T-Mobile requesting more info on the program after it received substantial criticism from open-web advocates.
However, the throttling is part of T-Mobile’s overall push to help customers save on data use. When Binge On was announced, the company also noted that it had developed technology that streams DVD-quality videos three times more efficiently.
According to a company spokesman, T-Mobile notified customers multiple times about the rollout of the program to let them know they can opt out. They’re able to opt out at any point.
Those who have big data plans may still want to turn off that service. LifeHacker has a post with instructions on how to disable Binge On. The Binge On page includes some more details in the FAQ at the bottom about what that will mean for customers’ data use.
When GeekWire contacted T-Mobile seeking comment on YouTube’s claim, the company referred to this tweet by CEO John Legere, which doesn’t directly address the issue.
— John Legere (@JohnLegere) December 22, 2015
In related news today, T-Mobile is marking the end of the year by sharing some new stats about its network. T-Mobile customers saw a doubling of LTE coverage with more than 1 million new square miles and 219 new markets. T-Mobile’s chief technology officer Neville Ray also claimed that the carrier has been providing the fastest 4G LTE in the country for seven quarters in a row.
“Throughout 2015, we’ve continued improving network speeds and quality with the rapid roll-out of T-Mobile Wideband LTE that pushed data speeds peaking over 150Mbps in places like San Francisco and New York City,” Ray said.
He also dismissed other carriers’ claims of working on a 5G network, which he said hasn’t been standardized yet. But he did promise that T-Mobile will be delivering 5G speed when the technology is ready.
Update: This article has been updated to reflect additional information from T-Mobile.