Commentary

Did Google Just Compromise Its Principles To Be In T-Mobile's 'Binge' Fest?

In a major coup, T-Mobile just persuaded YouTube and Google Play Movies & TV to join its “Binge On” program. The service lets subscribers stream selected content without it counting against their mobile data plans.

Along with the breadth of Google’s video properties, the deal is particularly huge because the search giant was once a big critic of “Binge On.” Not unlike its position on net neutrality, Google argued that the program unfairly throttled non-partner video services without consumer consent.

Of course, T-Mobile has always maintained that “Binge On” operates within the boundaries of FCC regulations, and than virtually any video service was welcome to join.

Before Google would come around, however, T-Mobile had to make some material changes to its program. These included clarifying the concept of video “optimization” among subscribers, and the impact of turning the service on and off, as well as giving video services more options with regard to the service.

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“Prior to our discussions, video services were not given a choice about whether their streams would be managed by T-Mobile if they did not join the program,” Christian Kleinerman, product management director at YouTube, notes in a new blog post.

Now, “Any video service meeting traffic-identification requirements will be able to opt out, and T-Mobile will stop including them in the Binge On program and will no longer modify their video streams,” according to Kleinerman.

Additionally, T-Mobile has agreed to work with video services that want to optimize their own streams, using an average data rate limit. “This allows video services to offer users an improved video experience, even at lower data rates, by taking advantage of innovations such as video compression technology,” Kleinerman notes.

But, still the question remains: Is Google compromising its principles so it won't be left out in the cold?

Since launching last November, “Binge On” has allows subscribers to stream more than 57 million GB (57 petabytes) of data, according to T-Mobile. “That’s like watching Adele’s 15 minute 'Carpool Karaoke' with James Corden more than 460 million times,” the carrier quips.

Principles or not, that’s a lot of action for Google to leave on the table.

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