Legere Apologizes for Offending EFF

John Legere served up a slice of humble pie Monday in the form of an open letter (opens in new tab) in which the outspoken T-Mobile CEO apologized for some disrespectful remarks directed to the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) while remaining steadfast in a position that T-Mobile’s new and optional zero-rated Binge On streaming offering “absolutely supports Net Neutrality.”

Legere stirred things up last week when using Periscope to conduct a Q&A about Binge On. EFF asked if Binge On alters streams or just limits its bandwidth.  Legere offered some details and then said:  “Who the f*** are you, anyway, EFF? Why are you stirring up so much trouble, and who pays you?"

That didn’t go over well with members of EFF, and caused Sidefuse, the company behind 4Stream.TV, to announce that it was dropping out of the Binge On program.

Legere’s letter lists out some details about Binge On before this apologetic passage:

“Look, by now you know that I am a vocal, animated and sometimes foul mouthed CEO.  I don’t filter myself and you know that no one at T-Mobile filters me either (no, they don’t even try).  That means I will sometimes incite a bit of a ‘social media riot’, but I’m not going to apologize for that.

“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.  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.”

Earlier in the letter, Legere said T-Mobile “absolutely supports Net Neutrality and we believe in an open and free Internet, noting that the company developed the proprietary Binge On system (it zero-rates streams at DVD-like 480p quality) to help customers “stretch their data bucket.”  

He also reiterated that customers can turn off Binge On to stream and HD and flip it back on after.  When Binge On is active, streaming from partners (opens in new tab) such as Crackle, Curiosity Stream, Sling TV, Hulu, Starz, HBO Now,  etflix and several others, don’t count against a T-Mobile customer’s monthly data usage, but streams from others, such as YouTube, which has criticized the program over “throttling” claims, are also delivered via the mobile provider’s proprietary system.

T-Mobile countered that Binge On doesn’t throttle video streams, but told DSL Reports that it thinks “[a]  better phrase is ‘mobile optimized’ or a less flattering ‘downgraded’ is also accurate."

Semantics aside, Binge On, Legere held in the open letter, is “a VERY ‘pro’ net neutrality capability -- you can turn it on and off in your MyTMobile account – whenever you want.  Turn it on and off at will.  Customers are in control.  Not T-Mobile.  Not content providers.  Customers. At all times.”