T-Mobile CEO John Legere has published an open letter responding to criticisms surrounding the carrier’s “Binge On” service. In it, the CEO noted that T-Mobile’s data-saving feature has added a number of new partners and, at the same time, Legere criticized reports that Binge On “throttles” users’ smartphones and tablets.
In typical Legere style, the CEO said that his post is simply designed to “set the record straight,” and from the start he condemns news outlets for “confusing” consumers. Criticism of T-Mobile, however, came when it was discovered that Binge On, which downgrades the quality of video streamed from the network’s partner websites, was also downgrading video from non-partners (such as YouTube).
This resulted in a report calling for FCC intervention and demanding an explanation from T-Mobile, presumably prompting today’s letter from the company’s CEO. Yet, as you’d expect, Legere isn’t accepting the accusations levelled against his company in any way, shape, or form.
There are people out there saying we’re “throttling.” They’re playing semantics! Binge On does NOT permanently slow down data nor remove customer control. Here’s the thing, mobile customers don’t always want or need giant heavy data files. So we created adaptive video technology to optimize for mobile screens and stream at a bitrate designed to stretch your data (pssst, Google, that’s a GOOD thing). You get the same quality of video as watching a DVD – 480p or higher – but use only 1/3 as much data (or, of course, NO data used when it’s a Binge On content provider!). Watch more video, use less data from your service plan. That’s an important and valuable benefit!
He adds, later in the piece:
By the way, what do you think Dumb and Dumber would have done if they’d been first to market with this technology? I guarantee you they would have found a way to charge you — the customers — AND the video content providers! But we GAVE it to customers – at zero additional cost — just because you picked T-Mobile.
New Binge On partners have been added, too, in addition to Legere’s reassurances for customers. These include A&E, Lifetime, History Channel, and a bunch of others. There are, so far, 38 content providers who’ve partnered with T-Mobile’s Binge On, and more are set to join later in the year.
Of course, the problems with Binge On began with YouTube, which noted that its videos were being downgraded as part of the Binge On service against its wishes. Well, Legere had a message to send back to the Google-owned video site. The CEO said:
YouTube complained about Binge On, yet at the same time they claim they provide choice to customers on the resolution of their video. So it’s ok for THEM to give customers choice but not for US to give our customers a choice? Hmmm. I seriously don’t get it. Customers have MORE choices than before. And these guys are complaining? Who do they think they are? Do they have the right to dictate what my customers – or any wireless consumer — should or should not be able to choose for themselves?? No way!
You can read Legere’s full letter at T-Mobile’s website. Whether this public comment will stave off an FCC investigation, however, remains to be seen.