T-Mobile’s Binder: 5G a ‘Game-Changer’

MARINA DEL REY, Calif. — The emergence of 5G technology will be a game-changer for both the mobile phone business and the digital video business, according to Jeff Binder, the cable-industry veteran and executive vice president of home and entertainment at T-Mobile U.S.

Binder on Aug. 2 gave the opening keynote at the OTT & Video Distribution Summit. He said T-Mobile’s recent announcement of a $3.5 billion commitment to deploy super-fast 5G technology is going to change the dynamics of how consumers interact with their phones and access content.

“I believe 5G will be a game-changer,” Binder, who joined T-Mobile after the telco acquired his former company, Layer3 TV, said. “4G changed the way people used their phone; 5G is going to change the way all of us use our home as well as our phone.”

Binder would not provide specific details of T-Mobile’s proposed OTT service, but said it will not be creating original programming for the offering.

“We’re going to meet customers where they want to be met, and we’re going to start to think of TV as part of the 21st century, but I wouldn’t characterize us as being in a bucket with OTT, pay TV or Netflix,” he said.

Binder also characterized the state of the television industry as “complicated,” with consumers gravitating toward streaming services like Netflix that offer more choices and a better customer experience than cable.

“Pay TV is dominated by non-customer-centric monopolists that have historically not cared about customers, so it’s not a surprise that people are leaving [cable],” he said. “If you have options and you get treated like crap for three decades, you’re going to go somewhere else.”

Still, he said, more people pay for TV than ever before, with 94% paying either traditional cable fees or subscriptions for OTT services in 2017, up from 86% three years prior. Also, the quality of TV is peaking.

“We’re in the golden age of television,” he said. “There’s more great TV out there than there’s ever been.”

Multichannel News managing director of content Mark Robichaux interviewed Binder at the summit, produced by MCN parent Future.

R. Thomas Umstead serves as senior content producer, programming for Multichannel News, Broadcasting + Cable and Next TV. During his more than 30-year career as a print and online journalist, Umstead has written articles on a variety of subjects ranging from TV technology, marketing and sports production to content distribution and development. He has provided expert commentary on television issues and trends for such TV, print, radio and streaming outlets as Fox News, CNBC, the Today show, USA Today, The New York Times and National Public Radio. Umstead has also filmed, produced and edited more than 100 original video interviews, profiles and news reports featuring key cable television executives as well as entertainers and celebrity personalities.