FCC Chief Gives T-Mobile ‘Binge On’ His Blessing, Dismisses Net Neutrality Complaints

T-Mobile's been on a mission to disrupt the wireless market, hence why it calls itself the un-carrier. One of the more recent and controversial initiatives to come from T-Mobile is Binge On, a program that allows that allows customers to access certain streaming services without it counting against their data caps. On the surface, that sounds like a net neutrality violation, though Federal Communication Commission Tom Wheeler says there's nothing wrong with what T-Mobile's doing.

Just the opposite, Mr. Wheeler praised the program as "innovative" when a reporter asked if it raises any net neutrality red flags.

"It's clear in the Open Internet Order that we said we are pro-competition and pro innovation. Clearly this meets both of those criteria. It's highly innovative and highly competitive," Mr. Wheeler said.

Binge On

Obviously T-Mobile CEO John Legere agrees with Mr. Wheeler's assessment. When introducing the program, Mr. Legere made it a point to mention that Binge On doesn't cost service providers a dime. In addition, customers can opt out of Binge On if they're rather receive higher quality video streams, which would eat away at their data cap.

There are two dozen streaming services that fall under T-Mobile's Binge On umbrella, including Netflix, HBO GO, Hulu, Sling TV, ESPN, and more. T-Mobile users signed up to a qualifying Simple Choice plan can enjoy unlimited streaming from the included services without it counting against their 4G LTE data cap, albeit the streams come in at "DVD quality (480p+)."

T-Mobile seems to be dancing a fine line between what's acceptable and what might run afoul of net neutrality rules, and though Mr. Wheeler doesn't take issue with Binge On, he did say that the FCC will keep a close watch on the program. He also used the opportunity as a 'told you so' moment against those who voiced opposition to the FCC's net neutrality rules.

"I also chuckle at the fact that as we were debating this, everyone was saying, 'Oh, this is going to thwart innovation, it's going to be terrible, people are going to come to the FCC to say, "Mother, may I?" before they do anything'. Well that certainly didn't happen here," Wheeler said.

Point taken.