And I'm sorry, but this line from Legere had me raging at my screen:
"There are people out there saying we’re “throttling.” They’re playing semantics! Binge On does NOT permanently slow down data nor remove customer control. Here’s the thing, mobile customers don’t always want or need giant heavy data files. So we created adaptive video technology to optimize for mobile screens and stream at a bitrate designed to stretch your data (pssst, Google, that's a GOOD thing)."
...so...you're "optimizing" the bitrate of video traffic for mobile by lowering it to 1.5 mbps, but don't worry: it's not "throttling". And you're accusing the "other guys" of playing semantics? Beside pure marketing doublespeak, I don't even know what actual logic he's using here. Apparently it's only "throttling" if it *permanently* slows down traffic, and BingeOn somehow doesn't do that (besides what the EFF is putting forward)? Is it because even though it's enabled by default, there is still an "off" switch, and therefore user choice is maintained (though probalby not obvious to most consumers)?
Listen: I have no issue with doing shaping or traffic prioritization or whatever as your customer asks for it; we offer that as an option to customers to get the most out of their connections and I'm sure many of you do as well. But:
1) Those are done at the request of the customer, not opt-out.
2) Be honest about what you're doing.
T-Mobile seems to be trying to spin this as if they have some magical technology that will re-encode streaming video on the fly to 480p, when really they're just ID-ing video and rate-limiting it (when it comes to video that doesn't match their technical requirements doc and doesn't do ABR down to 480p on the sending side). Fine: just getting decent accuracy on various edge cases of identifying video traffic isn't trivial, so kudos, but don't blow smoke about it. If Legere has some info about how this truly at a technical level is not just rate limiting, then show us that info. Yes: I've read the "Content Provider Technical Requirements" doc that talks about adaptive bitrate tech on the sending side:
"The content provider will provide video over T‐Mobile’s network using adaptive bit rate technology in which the server sending streaming video content will automatically adapt video resolution of the stream based on the capabilities of the data connection or as otherwise indicated by the T‐Mobile network."
But, that's for the content folks that are participating in the BingeOn setup for zero-rating. The EFF's data indicates that if you're just a random video stream (or video media type file), you get rate limited.
With all of this said, I appreciate the challenge of getting something like this implemented at scale without going opt-out. T-Mo is going for a PR win as well as, let's be honest, reducing network utilization by reducing the bitrate of video crossing the network, but it's *highly* unlikely that you're going to get enough critical mass in an opt-in effort to pull it off. To T-Mo's credit, they're making the opt-out quite simple, but let's be clear that this is not a net neutral move if we go by the commonly accepted definitions:
"The idea is that a maximally useful public information network aspires to treat all content, sites, and platforms equally."
"Net neutrality (also network neutrality, Internet neutrality, or net equality) is the principle that Internet service providers and governments should treat all data on the Internet the same, not discriminating or charging differentially by user, content, site, platform, application, type of attached equipment, or mode of communication."
The majority of the "fight" to date has been about the source and origin of the traffic, so the discussion often leans that direction, but there is no question that BingeOn works to identify a specific application or type of content (video) and then treats it differently from other traffic.
"So why are special interest groups -- and even Google! -- offended by this? Why are they trying to characterize this as a bad thing?"
Because you're drawing a box within which people have to play, which puts shackles on innovation. For traffic destined for a BingeOn enabled T-Mo customer (which is everyone by default unless they opt out), content providers can choose to:
1. Meet the technical requirements (possibly at real cost to them to adapt their infrastructure) and do adaptive bitrate streaming, and get capped at 480p but be zero-rated.
2. Do nothing, don't get zero-rated, and get rate-limited to 1.5 mbps.
Part of the concern from the net neut crowd is that creating little boxes like this hampers innovation and the development of novel new applications. BingeOn in and of itself may not directly curtail innovation, but the concern is that everyone can create their own little box with which content providers need to cooperate/interoperate. Already in the BingeOn technical requirements doc, there is reference to basically a business relationship (e.g. "To ensure a good customer experience, any changes to a content provider’s streaming formats and/or mechanisms that could impact T‐Mobile’s ability to include the provider’s content in the offering must be communicated to T‐Mobile in advance"). Do we really want a situation where content providers need to establish direct relationships with any edge provider that runs a similar setup to BingeOn in order to ensure their traffic doesn't get squashed or degraded?
My gut says that most edge operators wouldn't have an issue with the practice of traffic prioritization or rate limiting as requested by customers (e.g. prioritize my VoIP traffic; cap offsite backup or replication traffic). But those are explicit customer-initiated requests. I think it is legitimate to express concern when that type of traffic classification and differential treatment is applied en masse. T-Mo (or at least Legere) are pandering to "the little guy" and dismissing legitimate reports as "bullshit" in a bunch of handwaving and PR. Let's have an honest conversation about this, including who all stand to benefit and where there is legitimate harm or cause for concern.