Binge On: Net Neutrality in Practice?

T-Mobile’s “Binge On” streaming plan announced earlier this week has been hailed by customers and industry marketers, though regulators may be less enthusiastic. Given the structure of the service— some subscribers will be granted unlimited access to two dozen partner channels (including Netflix, ESPN, HBO, Sing,  and Hulu) without data caps—observers have called for the FCC to intervene on net neutrality grounds. Advocates claim that even without charging content providers who participate and opening the plan (in theory) to any provider who meets “technical requirements”, T-Mobile has the potential to “distort the market” as a gatekeeper.

T-Mobile has showcased its support for net neutrality and sought to cast Binge On as fully consistent with the principle in action. The company also counters with another FCC imperative: maintaining competition in the carrier industry, where it ranks a distant third to the AT&T-Verizon “duopoly” that it claims has resulted in inflated data costs an unlimited streaming plan can bring down.  Both have already begun criticizing the plan on technical grounds, warning of network congestion. The story provides further backdrop for the new rules less than a month before they make their debut in federal court.

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