T-Mobile's #uncarrier X event just wrapped up, and the rumors were right - T-Mobile is gearing up to start providing video streaming that does NOT count against data limits.
But that wasn't all that was announced today. T-Mobile also announced that it will be doubling the data provided with every cellular plan - including the amount of tethering data available for use by Unlimited Plan subscribers.
This was indeed a huge day for T-Mobile, making T-Mobile an almost irresistibly attractive choice as a secondary carrier for all data-hungry RVers.
Read on for the details...
Binge On - Unlimited Video Streaming!
The big news today is downright earthshaking for the mobile industry - T-Mobile's new "Binge On" video streaming feature allows unlimited video streaming for most T-Mobile customers that will no longer count against monthly data limits!
However - just like T-Mobile's Music Freedom service, only certain video streaming services are supported.
The list at launch is pretty impressive however - including Netflix, HBO, Hulu, Sling TV, ESPN, DirectTV, and much more.
As a direct dig against Verizon - T-Mobile is even including free streaming of Verizon's Go90 service - which Verizon launched last month with the explicit intention of encouraging more overage charges and more expensive data plans. *burn*
The big elephant missing from the list is YouTube, but T-Mobile confirmed that it is working through the technical issues with Google and as soon as Google makes a few changes to make YouTube compatible it will be included too.
In fact - T-Mobile welcomes any and every streaming video service to be a part of Binge On. Anything legal is welcome - T-Mobile CEO John Legere made it clear that he even welcomed porn sites.
Because Binge On is open to everyone and no one is paying T-Mobile to be featured, this service should not run afoul of the FCC's Network Neutrality rules.
With Binge On, our doors are open to all streaming providers who want to participate. We’ve proven our track record with Music Freedom. No one pays us, and we don’t pay them - and everyone wins – especially customers. We’re not here to play favorites.
UPDATE: For those wondering about how T-Mobile's Binge On works with dedicated hotspots, we have gotten the following confirmation directly from T-Mobile:
"Video from included Binge On services never eat into a mobile hotspot data bucket as long as Binge On is enabled. Binge On applies to all video streaming that runs over the T-Mobile network."
Great news for streaming - this means you should be able to get Binge On benefits directly on an Apple TV or Roku or other streaming box connected to a hotspot.
UPDATE (December 8th, 2015): It turns out that Binge On is NOT supported on devices such as an Apple TV, Roku, Chromecast, or PlayStation. Read our update for the unfortunate details.
The Binge On Catch: DVD Quality Video
To keep network bandwidth under control - Binge On works behind the scenes to limit video streams to "DVD or better video quality" - in other words, 480p.
For smaller devices and watching video in a window - 480p is likely plenty.
Especially for free, a bit of a resolution drop is not a big deal at all for most people. It wasn't that long ago that DVD Quality was considered pretty awesome, after all!
But if you ever do want to watch full HD resolution video, or even bandwidth-busting 4k video streaming - T-Mobile will provide a switch to allow customers to instantly turn off Binge On optimizations.
This will come in handy for watching movies on projectors and big screen TVs via HDMI output in particular.
Even sites that are not on the Binge On "free" list benefit from T-Mobile's video optimization and compression technologies. T-Mobile is claiming that with Binge On turned on, you can watch 3 times more video while using the same amount of data as before.
No International Binging: One other Binge On catch is hidden in the fine print. Binge On benefits only apply while on T-Mobile's network, and you will not get free video streaming while roaming domestically or traveling internationally. Considering how much data is potentially at stake here, that seems like a reasonable restriction.
Getting Your Binge On
Customers signing up for new T-Mobile Simple Choice Amped plans starting this Sunday (November 15th) will have Binge On enabled immediately. And all current T-Mobile plans (including grandfathered legacy plans) will get Binge On enabled on their accounts automatically starting November 19th.
There is no need to opt in.
All customers will get the benefits of the video streaming 3x efficiency optimizations. But only customers who have a 3GB/mo data plan or more will get free unlimited streaming that does not count against their high speed data limit.
In essence - all but the most bare bones T-Mobile plans now can stream unlimited video for free.
As a special perk for customers with T-Mobile's Unlimited Data plans - T-Mobile will provide a free streamed movie rental from VUDU every month throughout 2016. But to claim your movie rental, you must keep Binge On compression enabled for the entire previous month.
If you use your unlimited data to stream HD, you'll lose out on the free movie.
Doubled Data Plans
The other big news today was T-Mobile announcing that they were doubling the data included in every one of their plans, across the board - replacing the T-Mobile Simple Choice plans with new "Simple Choice Amped" plans with twice the data included.
Unlike the promotions AT&T and Verizon ran this time last year, this is not a limited time promotion - but is a new baseline price.
But - the T-Mobile prices are going up!
T-Mobile's 1GB plans are now 2GB and costs the same as before ($50), the 3GB plans are now 6GB and costs $65 instead of $60, and the 5GB plans are now 10GB and costs $80 instead of $70.
And the Unlimited Plan is even better too - with the included shareable data that can be used for tethering being doubled from 7GB to 14GB. But the monthly price for unlimited is going up by $15/mo, from $80/mo to $95/mo.
If you want to double your data, you can opt in to the new price at any time. But if you want to keep your existing plan, T-Mobile is not forcing anyone to upgrade - and everyone still gets the Binge On benefits.
Read our follow on report for more info:
The Ultimate Secondary Network?
T-Mobile announced today that its coverage map has grown to reach over 300 million people - which is starting to approach Verizon and AT&T when it comes to raw coverage area.
And indeed, in many core urban areas - T-Mobile's network is strong, fast, and reliable.
But there is no denying that when it comes to fringe areas (where many RVers tend to roam), T-Mobile is still in a distant third place when it comes to coverage, speed, and reliability.
But with so many awesome benefits (including unlimited high-speed roaming in Canada and Mexico) and such affordable rates, T-Mobile is becoming an ideal secondary carrier for many RVers to keep on board.
A basic $35/mo T-Mobile 3GB Mobile Internet plan will give you Binge On video streaming, unlimited Music Freedom music streaming, international roaming, and 6GB of data you can share.
Sounds like a great deal to us!
Now... How will the other carriers respond to all this industry shaking news?
- NEW: T-Mobile “Binge On” NOT Compatible With Apple TV, Roku, PlayStation, etc…
- Downsides of Binging: T-Mobile’s Stealth Price Increase, New Data Stash Limits
- T-Mobile Binge On FAQ
- The Four Major US Carriers – Which is Best for RVers?
- Getting Unlimited International Data with T-Mobile
- The Low Frequency Land Grab (And Understanding T-Mobile’s 700MHz LTE Band-12 Future)