T-Mobile Breaks Bad, Tells FCC To 'Tread Lightly' On Binge With Response

The Federal Communications Commission is looking into various wireless plans with so called zero-rating services to see if they run afoul of net neutrality legislation, including T-Mobile's popular Binge On program. In case the FCC is need of any advice on the matter, T-Mobile has a message for the agency—"tread lightly."

"The commission has to tread lightly," said Kathleen Ham, Vice President of Federal Regulatory Affairs at T-Mobile. "And certainly more lightly than for the wired world in the wireless space — when there is so much experimentation happening, so much differentiation happening. And a lot of it customers responding to. We do have to be transparent about it. We have to make sure the customer has choices, but I think it is wise to tread lightly in this environment when there is so much going on."

Binge On

Binge On has been the subject of much debate. T-Mobile sees it as an innovative offering that helps users stay under their data caps, which it achieves by downgrading video feeds from Binge On participants like HBO Go and Netflix to 480P (or higher) when streaming to mobile devices. When watching a video from T-Mobile's growing list of partners, the data doesn't count against the user's data cap.

The vocal opposition to such plans, and Binge On specifically, accuse T-Mobile of throttling data and running outside the bounds of net neutrality. Be that as it may, the FCC hasn't taken issue with such services, while FCC chairman Tom Wheeler even went so far as to call the program "highly innovative and highly competitive." At the same time, the FCC said it was looking into (not investigating) these types of programs to make sure everything is on the up and up.

Ham acknowledged that T-Mobile is having ongoing conversations with the FCC, the latter of which sent out letters to several wireless carriers and has been meeting with them to discuss zero-rating services. She's also confident that the FCC won't find anything wrong with Binge On.