T-Mobile CEO John Legere apologized to the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) and its supporters Monday after posting a tirade at the end of last week defending the Un-carrier’s new Binge On service.
Legere’s original post, which came in response to a report from the EFF that questioned the legality of the video streaming service in light of net neutrality rules, was forcefully worded with sometimes explicit language and sparked outrage from EFF supporters. Many EFF supporters took to Twitter to express their support using the hashtag #WeAreEFF.
At least one Binge On streaming partner, 4Stream.TV, announced it would no longer participate in Binge On following Legere’s comments.
In an open letter posted Monday, Legere apologized for offending the 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,” he wrote. “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.”
Though somewhat contrite, Legere continued his vigorous defense of Binge On, saying he didn’t want his “color commentary” to cloud the issue and drown out the “real value of Binge On.”
Critics – including the EFF – have contended that Binge On violates net neutrality rules by optimizing/throttling all video content regardless of whether the provider is a Binge On participant. The criticism is significant as it relates to the FCC’s net neutrality rules, which state that ISPs “shall not impair or degrade lawful Internet traffic on the basis of Internet content, application, or service…subject to reasonable network management.”
When activated, Binge On uses video optimization technology to compress all video content (some of which is determined to be free through Binge On partnerships) to 480p for streaming over the network. T-Mobile claims this helps customers “stretch their high-speed data while streaming video.”
Legere on Monday likened the service to an “economy button” to help consumers get more video out of their data plans.
Legere added to this by reiterating that Binge On is a free service available to all T-Mobile customers, and said the service’s opt-out feature makes it “very pro net neutrality.”
Legere said T-Mobile will continue to innovate with the customers’ best interests in mind despite challenges and debates that may arise.
“T-Mobile is about breaking the mold, eliminating the status quo and finding new and better ways to give consumers what they want,” he said. “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).”