T-Mobile’s new online video program won a major victory Thursday when one of its biggest critics, YouTube, agreed to join following some key changes.
YouTube — which is owned by Google — had raised net neutrality concerns last year about T-Mobile’s Binge On program, which allows customers to watch unlimited video from many sources without it counting against their monthly data caps. The process is known as zero-rating.
YouTube and others were worried the program was using T-Mobile technology to throttle the download speeds of all videos, even from companies that did not sign up. Federal regulators are currently looking into a number of similar programs.
But T-Mobile Thursday announced a series of changes that brought YouTube and Google Play on board. About 50 video companies are already signed up.
“We think these changes, which T-Mobile is making for all users and video providers on a non-preferential basis, can help ensure that the program works well for all users and the entire video ecosystem,” Google wrote in a blog post.
Aside from being one of Binge On’s loudest critics, YouTube also holds major sway in the mobile video market. Statistics released last year showed it is the biggest source of mobile traffic in North America.
T-Mobile made a series of changes to the program, which it says is massively popular with customers. Some changes are aimed at customers and some aimed at video providers like YouTube.
For customers, T-Mobile is making it easier to turn off Binge On.
While customers can watch standard definition video through the program, they would not be able to smoothly stream high-definition videos because of the throttled speeds. Customers can now turn the program on and off easily through text message, the app or the website.
For video providers, T-Mobile now allows those companies to completely opt-out of the program — meaning that their videos could stream at a higher resolution but they would also use up more customer data.
More importantly for Google, T-Mobile will now let video providers use their own technology to limit the amount of data a video eats up to comply with the program. YouTube is currently the only company participating. Google has been working on its own projects to make the Web more mobile-friendly.