T-Mobile's CEO, the rambunctious and somewhat infectious John Legere, is taking to the airwaves to dispute recent claims that the company's BingeOn video service is nothing more than simple bandwidth throttling. And he only curses a single time in his video response, which is a new record low. Or is that a high?
For Legere, it's all about choice and he says Binge On gives it to customers.
"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!"
The response was prompted from criticism earlier this week than none other than the EFF, or Electronic Frontier Foundation.
On Monday, the EFF publicly blasted T-Mobile after testing video playback on the carrier's network, saying "our results show that T-Mobile is throttling video streams, plain and simple." The EFF tested streaming video on network from a non-Binge On partner and claims it was downgraded to 480p resolution.
When T-Mobile launched Binge On in November, it claimed to use a video compression technology to reduce the amount of bandwidth used to watch mobile videos by two-thirds. The idea is that if you, as a T-Mobile customer, don't mind a 480p resolution video stream, Binge On will let you watch more video while using less data.
That's good for customers; on the surface, that is. Those on limited data plans can surely benefit by getting "more" for less. But you can't overlook the fact that it's also good for T-Mobile; particularly in areas where its network may be congested.
As far as the EFF's concern, the issue is one of net neutrality. And I can understand why. T-Mobile has video partners for BingeOn and we don't want an Internet where certain companies are paying to have prioritization; that would negatively impact smaller companies that can't afford such deals.
The thing is: T-Mobile has said that its partners don't pay anything to be part of Binge On. There are simply "technical requirements" revolving around the video streams so that T-Mobile can identify them and apply the video compression technology, according to the company.
And a second important point to be made: Customers can disable Binge On if they choose to. Personally, I'd rather see Binge On be an opt-in, rather than an opt-out, service; something I hope T-Mobile considers.
Regardless of Legere's response, I suspect this isn't the last we've heard about Binge On and its impact on mobile internet access. The EFF has requested the FCC to look into T-Mobile's offering and the more complaints the consumer advocacy group raise, the more the outspoken CEO of T-Mobile is likely to respond.