Netflix demands Net Neutrality, but makes an exception for T-Mobile

T-Mobile's "Binge On" service advertises itself as a "video optimization" service that publishers and customers opt into, but it's really just throttling for all video, something T-Mobile CEO John Legere vehemently denied, then admitted to.

Meanwhile, Netflix have been ardent supporters of Net Neutrality — when the fight was about ensuring that telcos didn't discriminate against it. However, now that it has partnered with T-Mobile for Binge On, it has done a complete reversal, literally repeating John Legere's own arguments about it being "an open program" that is "voluntary to the customer." These are the same arguments that it once dismissed, saying that offerings like Binge On "distorted consumer choice" (more specifically, "Zero rating isn't great for consumers as it has the potential to distort consumer choice in favor of choices selected by an ISP.")

As The Verge's Nick Statt points out, this isn't unusual for Netflix: it has come down on both sides of the Net Neutrality argument at various times, based, seemingly, on whether its own situation would be improved by neutrality or discrimination in network policy, despite its occasional rhetoric about the objective arguments for Net Neutrality.

Though Netflix clearly benefits from unlimited video bandwidth (especially when its competitors don't get the same privilege) Binge On and Netflix are a curious marriage: its participation effectively reduces all its video offerings to 480p streams for mobile customers. That's probably fine for users with phones, but tablet users will definitely see a degraded picture if they're using Binge On.

Of course, this wouldn't be the first time Netflix's opinion on net neutrality coincided with what's best for its business. The company publicly battled companies like Comcast for months in 2014 over an arcane technical agreement about who was responsible for covering the infrastructure cost of streaming video. Netflix ultimately paid fees to Comcast and Verizon. However, Hastings used the arrangement to spin an impassioned net neutrality defense, writing in March of that year, "The essence of net neutrality is that ISPs such as AT&T and Comcast don't restrict, influence, or otherwise meddle with the choices consumers make."

Now that protections are in place thanks to FCC regulation, Netflix looks as if it's picking and choosing again which potential violations of net neutrality the company would like to give a free pass.

Despite battling for net neutrality, Netflix sees no problem with T-Mobile's Binge On
[Nick Statt/The Verge]