John Legere has always been a rather outspoken entrepreneur, but last Friday he stirred even more controversy when he shared a video clip on Twitter, in which he launched an attack against the EFF, a non-profit organization advocating digital rights and net neutrality.
This latter principle refers to the fact that Internet providers should grant users access to all sorts of online content, no matter where it originated from. Moreover, they should refrain from putting any website or publisher at a disadvantage, while accommodating and highlighting others instead.
Given the fact that the EFF is a staunch supporter of net neutrality, its representatives are obviously inclined to criticize Binge On.
This service basically gives T-Mobile subscribers the possibility to stream online videos currently made available by just a handful of media providers, such as Hulu, Netflix, HBO Now, Sling, Lifetime, Ustream, NBC Sports, ESPN etc.
The content can be watched for unlimited lengths of time, with no extra charges, and without making any dent on the viewer’s data plan.
While this sounds appealing to T-Mobile customers, at least at a first glance, Internet rights advocates such as the EFF warn that the company’s practices are against the entire concept of net neutrality, by favoring certain content creators and providers to the detriment of others.
Theoretically even videos shared by other publishers can be accessed through this service, as long as these partners agree to take part in this “zero rating” initiative and let T-Mobile switch the bitrate of their videos to 480p.
However, it appears that all the media providers that haven’t joined Binge On yet are now experiencing problems, supposedly as a direct consequence of bandwidth throttling caused by T-Mobile.
Supposedly, in an effort to prevent congestion and to keep network traffic under control, the mobile communications company has introduced a bandwidth cap for video streaming, limiting it to just 1.5 megabits per second.
This restriction was imposed even on YouTube and other providers who are not part of Binge On, causing widespread outrage among them.
It affects even T-Mobile subscribers who haven’t joined this streaming service, irrespective of how much bandwidth is actually being used.
As critics point out, this obviously cannot lead to a satisfying user experience, because nobody enjoys watching a video with interruptions, as it keeps buffering and buffering.
When all these aspects were brought to the attention of John Legere on Friday, January 8, he showed his hot temper, addressing an expletive-filled speech against the Electronic Frontier Foundation and other digital rights advocates.
Dropping the f-bomb, the mobile carrier executive wondered out loud about the EFF’s integrity, suggesting that the organization probably has ulterior motives and is actually being sponsored by T-Mobile’s rivals.
Now, it seems that Legere is backtracking and trying to engage in damage control: in an open letter posted on Monday, January 11, the CEO admitted he has no filter, and publicly extended his apologies to the foundation he had offended.
While explaining that there are certainly aspects that they will have to agree to disagree on, he understands the importance of advocating consumer rights and ensuring a pleasurable viewing experience for everyone.
His attempt at making peace was well-received by EFF representatives, who have even invited Legere to participate in a more extensive debate concerning Binge On and the importance of a free and open Internet.
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