T-Mobile says its new "BingeOn" program, which launches on Sunday, is open to any streaming video providers that meet technical requirements, and is free. “With Binge On, no one pays -- not the customers, not the video streaming services -- and everyone wins,” T-Mobile's outspoken CEO John Legere said today in a statement.
T-Mobile's customers will almost certainly welcome the move, which could go a long way toward making it more feasible for people to watch videos while away from home. Services like Netflix and HBO probably also likely will cheer the development, which can only create more demand for their services.
The Federal Communications Commission has not taken an official position on whether exempting certain material from data caps is problematic. When the agency published its net neutrality rules, it said it would take a case-by-case approach to evaluating whether data caps -- and exemptions from them -- are harmful.
Given that T-Mobile isn't charging any video companies to exempt their data from the caps, the carrier doesn't appear to be leveraging its control over broadband to play favorites with particular video companies.
Still, open Internet advocates are skeptical of T-Mobile's approach. The group Free Press says that the company's decision to exempt video from its data caps calls into question the justification for them.
“T-Mobile wants to suggest it’s saving customers by exempting video from its data caps. But we have to remember that T-Mobile imposed these caps in the first place," Free Press Policy Director Matt Wood said in a statement. "It’s a cheap sales trick: First you fabricate a problem for customers; then you make that problem go away and act like you’ve done them a huge favor."