T-Mobile’s free video streaming service caps out at 480p, but you can disable it if you want


If you haven’t been paying attention, T-Mobile has announced free video streaming from select services. There are some big names on the initial list, and more will be added over time. And even for those not on the list, the company’s new video optimization algorithm can save up to 3x the data on all other video you watch.

But that’s going to come with a cost for most folks — that cost is video quality. While T-Mobile maintained that video watched on their new service was guaranteed to be “480p or higher,” they weren’t confident enough to give an accurate idea of whether your video would scale, or when.

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John Legere and company fielded a question about the limitation following their announcement where they clarified it all: if you have content you want to watch higher quality than 480p and the company doesn’t automatically scale you up to that quality, then you’re always free to disable the feature by heading to the MyT-Mobile app and hitting a toggle. This answer seemed to insinuate that there will be times where T-Mobile won’t scale you up to higher qualities of content even if that quality is available. Whether they make the determination based on network load is another question entirely, but there it is.

For their part, T-Mobile says their technology at least has the ability to determine where higher quality streams would be appropriate. One of the things they’re doing is automatically disabling video compression whenever you’re on a WiFi network, which is an obvious scenario where data stability and limits might not be of much concern. Leave WiFi and hop back onto T-Mobile’s network? They’ll reenable it (unless, of course, you decide to keep it off yourself).

Even with this bit of uncertainty shrouded over the feature, T-Mobile is confident that folks will be pleased with the quality of the video they get on their devices. Sure, 480p isn’t the highest resolution out there, but on a mobile device it should look fine enough for your enjoyment. If not? Well, just go back to the way you were doing things before this megaton announcement was dropped — that, my friends, is what the sweet freedom of choice provides.

Quentyn Kennemer
The "Google Phone" sounded too awesome to pass up, so I bought a G1. The rest is history. And yes, I know my name isn't Wilson.

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