While carrier T-Mobile has been drawing criticism for its new Binge On offering, Federal Communications Commission (FCC) Chairman Tom Wheeler praised the new program for being pro-competition and pro-innovation.
The Binge On program by T-Mobile offers unlimited data for videos, similar to the company's Music Freedom program for streaming music. Binge On provides customers with free and endless streaming for virtually all the major video services including Netflix, Hulu and HBO, though notably not yet YouTube. According to T-Mobile, it is working out some technical issues with the streaming video website, but it will soon be added to the list of Binge On partners. Video content providers do not have to make any payments to T-Mobile to be included in the program.
The catch to the offer, however, is that the videos will be limited to 480p quality in exchange for the unlimited data.
The net neutrality rules of the FCC do not prohibit zero-rating schemes such as Binge On, but the agency does accept complaints for practices that may be found to be unreasonably interfering with how customers can access content and how content providers can reach customers.
Wheeler, however, seems like he will not be among those that will be filing a complaint against Binge On. Upon being asked regarding T-Mobile's new service at an FCC meeting, Wheeler said that the program clearly meets the FCC's criteria stated in the Open Internet Order of being highly competitive and highly innovative.
Wheeler, however, added that the FCC will be monitoring Binge On, as the agency does with all programs to be evaluated against the net neutrality rules of the FCC.
Upon the announcement of Binge On, T-Mobile CEO John Legere said that it would not present any problems to net neutrality because it is free for video providers to participate in, and for customers that do not want the feature activated so they can watch better-quality videos, they can simply turn it off.
Criticisms against Binge On, however, have been coming in, with Public Knowledge, a consumer advocacy group, claiming that it is the customers that should have the right to choose which services would be zero-rated.