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YouTube agrees to participate in T-Mobile’s free video program

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Alongside Netflix, YouTube is the biggest name in online video, and today it's being added to T-Mobile's Binge On plan, which allows streaming from partner services without it counting against users' data caps. T-Mobile chief John Legere announced the news in a video on Twitter, noting that his company is also adding others like Fox Business, Red Bull TV, and Discovery Go, taking the total of Binge On partners to more than 50.

Google had initially voiced some strong concerns about Binge On, complaining about the way it downgrades video to 480p resolution. Binge On's mobile optimization reduces the quality of all streaming video, regardless of whether it comes from a supported partner or not, which has a direct impact on YouTube's user experience for T-Mobile customers. That is now changing, with T-Mobile allowing both users and services to opt out from this quality downgrade and stream at native resolution, all the way up to 4K. That won't be free, but at least it restores the choice.

Another major change in how Binge On works is that T-Mobile will now allow content providers to do the mobile optimization themselves. YouTube is the first partner to get the benefit of this, so T-Mobile subscribers that choose to be constrained by Binge On will be subject to YouTube's own compression and resolution tweaks, not T-Mobile's.