Binge On! - And So This is Net Neutrality?

Collin Anderson collin at
Tue Dec 8 19:53:13 UTC 2015

This thread seems to have run its course, but it was an interesting
conversation, so I wanted to flag that the Open Technology Institute is
running what seems to be a fairly balanced panel on the issue in D.C. next
week. Might be worth asking if there's remote participation.

New America
Please note our new address!
740 15th Street NW, Suite 900, Washington, DC 20005
Wednesday, December 16, 2015 | 12:00 pm - 1:45 pm

Even if the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals upholds the FCC’s Open Internet
Order, the ability of mobile carriers to exclude certain content from the
data caps or buckets that determine what a user pays each month remains
undecided and controversial. Although mobile carriers maintain that
zero-rating selected content is pro-consumer, some consumer advocates argue
the FCC should find it violates network neutrality rules against favoring
some Internet content or applications over others.

In the U.S., T-Mobile recently launched Binge On, which allows consumers to
opt out of the delivery of 'free' (zero-rated) streaming video content at
lower resolution (CD quality), and instead receive content at
high-definition that counts against their data limit. T-Mobile also hosts
Music Freedom, which zero-rates participating streaming music services.

In the developing world, Facebook’s Free Basics initiative partners with
mobile carriers to provide cell phone customers with low-bandwidth versions
of participating information and social media apps (e.g., Wikipedia and
Facebook itself) at no cost in the hope this exposure will encourage them
to upgrade to full Internet access.

Join us for an explanation and debate about zero-rating on mobile networks,
featuring the two companies most visibly marketing the practice, as well as
a range of perspectives from consumer and public interest advocates.

Lunch will be served.

Follow the discussion online using #ZeroRating
and by following us @OTI.

Kevin Martin
Vice President for Mobile & Global Access, Facebook
Former Chairman, FCC

Mark Cooper
Research Director, Consumer Federation of America

Steve Sharkey
Chief, Engineering and Technology Policy, T-Mobile

Matt Wood
Policy Director, Free Press

Sarah Morris
Senior Policy Counsel, Open Technology Institute at New America

Michael Calabrese
Director, Wireless Future Project, Open Technology Institute at New America

On Thu, Nov 26, 2015 at 3:44 PM, Tony Hain <alh-ietf at> wrote:

> Keenan Tims wrote:
> > To: nanog at
> > Subject: Re: Binge On! - And So This is Net Neutrality?
> >
> > I'm surprised you're supporting T-Mob here Owen. To me it's pretty
> > clear: they are charging more for bits that are not streaming video.
> > That's not neutral treatment from a policy perspective, and has no basis
> in
> > the cost of operating the network.
> I have no visibility into what the line
> "T‐Mobile will work with content providers to ensure that our networks
> work together to properly"
> actually means, but they could/should be using this as a tool to drive
> content sources to IPv6.
> Trying to explain to consumers why an unlimited data plan only works for a
> tiny subset of content is a waste of energy. Picking a category and
> "encouraging" that content to move, then after the time limit, pick the
> next category, rinse/repeat, is a way to move traffic away from the 6/4 nat
> infrastructure without having to make a big deal about the IP version to
> the consumer, and at the same time remove "it costs too much" complaints
> from the sources. If I were implementing such a plan, I would walk the list
> of traffic sources based on volume to move traffic as quickly as possible,
> so it makes perfect sense to me that they would start with video.
> Tony
> >
> > Granted, the network itself is neutral, but the purported purpose of NN
> in
> > my eyes is twofold: take away the influence of the network on user and
> > operator behaviour, and encourage an open market in network services
> > (both content and access). Allowing zero-rating based on *any* criteria
> > gives them a strong influence over what the end users are going to do
> with
> > their network connection, and distorts the market for network services.
> > What makes streaming video special to merit zero-rating?
> >
> > I like Clay's connection to the boiling frog. Yes, it's "nice" for most
> > consumers now, but it's still distorting the market.
> >
> > I'm also not seeing why they have to make this so complicated. If they
> can
> > afford to zero-rate high-bandwidth services like video and audio
> streaming,
> > clearly there is network capacity to spare. The user behaviour they're
> > encouraging with free video streaming is *precisely* what the incumbents
> > claimed was causing congestion to merit throttling a few years ago, and
> still
> > to this day whine about constantly. I don't have data, but I would expect
> > usage of this to align quite nicely with their current peaks.
> >
> > Why not just raise the caps to something reasonable or make it unlimited
> > across the board? I could even get behind zero-rating all
> 'off-peak-hours'
> > use like we used to have for mobile voice; at least that makes sense for
> the
> > network. What they're doing though is product differentiation where none
> > exists; in fact the zero-rating is likely to cause more load on the
> system than
> > just doubling or tripling the users'
> > caps. That there seems to be little obvious justification for it from a
> network
> > perspective makes me vary wary.
> >
> > Keenan
> >
> > On 2015-11-23 18:05, Owen DeLong wrote:
> > >
> > >> On Nov 23, 2015, at 17:28 , Baldur Norddahl
> > <baldur.norddahl at> wrote:
> > >>
> > >> On 24 November 2015 at 00:22, Owen DeLong <owen at>
> > wrote:
> > >>
> > >>> Are there a significant number (ANY?) streaming video providers
> > >>> using UDP to deliver their streams?
> > >>>
> > >>
> > >> What else could we have that is UDP based? Ah voice calls. Video
> calls.
> > >> Stuff that requires low latency and where TCP retransmit of stale
> > >> data is bad. Media without buffering because it is real time.
> > >>
> > >> And why would a telco want to zero rate all the bandwidth heavy media
> > >> with certain exceptions? Like not zero rating media that happens to
> > >> compete with some of their own services, such as voice calls and video
> > calls.
> > >>
> > >> Yes sounds like net neutrality to me too (or not!).
> > >>
> > >> Regards,
> > >>
> > >> Baldur
> > >
> > > All T-Mobile plans include unlimited 128kbps data, so a voice call is
> > > effectively already zero-rated for all practical purposes.
> > >
> > > I guess the question is: Is it better for the consumer to pay for
> > > everything equally, or, is it reasonable for carriers to be able to
> > > give away some free data without opening it up to everything?
> > >
> > > To me, net neutrality isn’t as much about what you charge the customer
> > > for the data, it’s about whether you prioritize certain classes of
> > > traffic to the detriment of others in terms of service delivery.
> > >
> > > If T-Mobile were taking money from the video streaming services or
> > > only accepting certain video streaming services, I’d likely agree with
> > > you that this is a neutrality issue.
> > >
> > > However, in this case, it appears to me that they aren’t trying to
> > > give an advantage to any particular competing streaming video service
> > > over the other, they aren’t taking money from participants in the
> program,
> > and consumers stand to benefit from it.
> > >
> > > If you see an actual way in which it’s better for everyone if T-Mobile
> > > weren’t doing this, then please explain it. If not, then this strikes
> > > me as harmless and overall benefits consumers.
> > >
> > > Owen
> > >

*Collin David Anderson* | @cda | Washington, D.C.

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