Friday, January 13, 2017

T-Mobile Latest: A “Fire Chicken?”

With the winter holiday season behind us, it’s time to move that unsold inventory, time to repackage those frozen turkeys as “fire chickens” and call them “fresh."

Fierce Wireless reported in August last year that T-Mobile was replacing its Binge-On sponsored data service with something called “T-Mobile One.” The new service includes unlimited data. However, as with any unlimited plan, the big question is, “Unlimited data at what speed and quality?” Unlimited data at 2.5G or 3G speeds is akin to washing your automobile with a teacup.

As I blogged last March, T-Mobile’s Binge-On sponsored data plan let you stream music and video from select content providers without incurring extra data charges, but the only way to get HD-quality streaming video was by disabling Binge-On, because T-Mobile throttled video streaming to 480 pixels (also known as “SD” for “standard definition”).

It’s no surprise that the Binge-On successor, T-Mobile One, by default only delivers SD quality video. If you want HD quality (720-1080 pixels), you have to pay $25 extra. The only difference between Binge-On and T-Mobile One seems to be the latter lets you stream any content (not just T-Mobile’s preferred providers), and it costs more. Also, just to make sure “unlimited data” doesn’t give people crazy ideas, T-Mobile limits tethering to 3G speeds and also says they’ll throttle anyone who streams more than 28 gigabytes per month (that’s a lot of data, by the way).

Image: Read the fine print!

Read the fine print: “On all T-Mobile plans, during congestion the top 3% of data users (>28GB/mo.) may notice reduced speeds until next bill cycle. Video typically streams on smartphone/tablet at DVD quality (480p). Tethering at Max 3G speeds. Sales tax and regulatory fees included in monthly service price.”

Here is an updated image of estimated streaming video quality based on the interpolated spring 2016 field test results. The January 2016 blog post showing estimated streaming video quality using 2015 field test data is here.