“Who the f*** are you anyway EFF?” Says T-Mobile CEO John Legere to EFF Over Binge On Throttling

T-Mobile’s rowdy CEO, John Legere fired back on Thursday at the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) following an EFF investigation that charged the carrier of throttling connection speeds of customers through its new all-you-can-eat “Binge On” streaming option. The Binge On program allows users to stream content from selected music and video sites, without counting it against their monthly data usage.

Earlier this week, the EFF, a 25-year-old non-profit organization that has been involved in supporting things like net neutrality and cellphone unlocking that released the results of tests that raise doubts about T-Mobile’s claim that it is “optimizing” streams for mobile users by identifying video traffic and then throttling that traffic to 1.5Mbps.

Related to this, EFF tweeted a question at Legere, asking him “Does Binge On alter the video stream in any way, or just limit its bandwidth?”

In the video posted by Legere, the CEO explains that Binge On “includes a proprietary technology” that will “not only detect the video stream, but select the appropriate bit rate to optimize to… the mobile device.”

Then Legere shifts gear abruptly for “Part B” of his answer, choosing a tactic you won’t see in most CEO handbooks:

“Part B of my answer is: Who the f*** are you anyway EFF? Why are you stirring up so much trouble and who pays you?”

Legere said T-Mobile is using adaptive video technology to “optimize” the streams for mobile devices and to stretch data usage rather than indiscriminately slowing mobile video speeds. It delivers video in the same quality as watching a DVD — 480p or higher — but uses one-third of the data, he said.

“What throttling is slowing down data and removing customer control,” Legere said. “Let me be clear. Binge On is neither of those things. When you stream video from a participating site with Binge On, it never subtracts any data from your plan.”

Amidst much fanfare this November, T-Mobile launched its Binge On program saying subscribers could watch unlimited video from a list of content providers such as Netflix, HBO and Hulu without using up their data plans.

YouTube had complained that T-Mobile was interfering with its video streams, throttling and degrading the quality of its videos, even though the service is not among the participants in the Binge On program.

“Reducing data charges can be good for users, but it doesn’t justify throttling all video services, especially without explicit user consent,” the Google division said in a statement.

In a statement posted to YouTube, Legere says, in effect, that he wonders why anybody would complain about free data.

“There are people out there saying we’re throttling. That’s a game of semantics and it’s bullshit,” Legere said in a video distributed on Twitter. “That’s not what we’re doing.”

Not much information was provided about how Binge On works, but T-Mobile continues to claim that it’s a good service that’s helping customers, and that it’s optional too. Customers can go into their account settings and disable Binge On, if they’re unhappy with how it impacts their video quality. Legere also noted that T-Mobile customers are watching 12 percent more videos, and that a top streaming service saw 66 percent increased viewership after launching with Binge On.

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