Last week, T-Mobile CEO John Legere went on Twitter to post video responses to questions about his company’s Binge On program. While the rabble-rousing exec is often applauded for his plainspoken demeanor, he was roundly criticized for cursing out one pro-consumer group that has been critical of his company. After a few days to think about it, Legere is now apologizing.
In an “Open Letter To Consumers” (read: press release) about Binge On, Legere reiterates many of his previously stated positions on the program, which doesn’t charge T-Mo customers for using data from certain streaming video providers… so long as they don’t mind the fact that the stream may be downgraded from its intended resolution.
YouTube, which does not participate in Binge On, was the first to publicly criticize T-Mo for not delivering its data to Binge On users in full HD. The streaming video service accused T-Mobile of throttling all video content, a possible violation of recently enacted federal net neutrality rules.
T-Mobile fired back, claiming that the downgrading was not throttling, but an optimization process to make these streams run better for customers and allow them to get more for their data subscription.
But a study by the Electronic Frontier Foundation alleges that T-Mo is doing is the opposite of optimization and may actually result in video that is even worse than if the content company had sent it out in a lower resolution. Additionally, the EFF claimed that T-Mobile appeared to be downgrading streams regardless of network speeds or congestion.
So when the EFF used last week’s Twitter Q&A with Legere to ask the CEO to explain in more detail about how Binge On works, he finished his response to the non-profit, pro-consumer group by asking “Who the fuck are you anyway EFF? Why are you stirring up so much trouble, and who pays you?”
As we noted in our story last week, this didn’t go over well with supporters of EFF, which is predominantly funded by donations and not from corporate gifts.
And so, Legere concludes today’s open letter with an apology to the EFF.
“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,” he writes. “We both agree that it is important to protect consumers’ rights and to give consumers value. We have that in common, so more power to them. As I mentioned last week, we look forward to sitting down and talking with the EFF and that is a step we will definitely take. Unfortunately, my color commentary from last week is now drowning out the real value of Binge On – so hopefully this letter will help make that clear again.”