There is simply no way around it; T-Mobile’s Binge On has created an insane amount of controversy. It has created such an amount of controversy that it could be called disproportionate to what Binge On, at its core, is; the rollout of a new service for T-Mobile customers. The issues came in three parts, initially; the fact that the service “optimized” all video instead of just participating providers, the fact that the “optimization” turned out to just be throttling and the fact that it was automatically activated for all T-Mobile customers on the rollout date. Net Neutrality activists and the Electronic Frontier Foundation criticized T-Mobile for the move on the grounds that some customers didn’t even know it had activated. A fairly missable message was the only warning that customers got, leaving some puzzled when videos suddenly took forever to load or came through in poorer quality than they were used to. In return for this trouble with video, however, customers were treated to extreme data savings on all video and free use of participating providers’ services, which boasted a fairly long list that included big names like Netflix.
T-Mobile’s outspoken and somewhat foul-mouthed CEO, John Legere, did not take well to the criticism. On video and Twitter, words like “absurd” and, in classic Legere fashion, the use of vulgarity, were thrown around haphazardly. Chaos proceeded to break out on social media, eventually costing T-Mobile a Binge On partner. Today, John Legere has decided to speak out in an open letter to consumers concerning Binge On. Legere defends Binge On as a “free service”, pro-consumer and pro-Net Neutrality. Thankfully, Legere averts all-out war with the EFF by way of an apology for his video antics. “I will however apologize for offending EFF and its supporters. Just because we don’t completely agree on all aspects of Binge On doesn’t mean I don’t see how they fight for consumers.” Legere reveals plans to speak with EFF representatives in the near future regarding Binge On.
Legere expresses that the service is simply controversial because that’s the nature of most innovations. He caps off the letter with a mission statement of sorts; “T-Mobile is about breaking the mold, eliminating the status quo and finding new and better ways to give consumers what they want. We will keep working to do that, keep improving, and yes I’m sure I’ll keep shooting my mouth off periodically. That comes from my passion, drive and fight to fix an arrogant and broken industry that is dominated by big companies that want to keep the status quo and don’t care enough to engage with the consumer or to even have the public debate (yes, I mean you Comcast, AT&T and Verizon).”