T-Mobile CEO colorfully dismisses allegations of Binge On throttling

by: John DyeJanuary 7, 2016

The ever-controversial T-Mobile CEO John Legere took to Twitter and YouTube today, denouncing any allegations of throttling as unsubstantiated. He went on to claim that the data ‘optimization’ Binge On users are subjected to is no different than an automobile manufacturer putting on economy option on their vehicles.

The origins of these criticisms come primarily from YouTube. The video streaming giant alleged that T-Mobile was degrading video quality of streaming content being delivered to T-Mobile users. YouTube took issue with this, especially because they are not one of the services that have partnered with the Binge On program.

There are people out there saying we’re throttling. That’s a game of semantics and it’s bullshit.

It appears that what T-Mobile is doing is ‘optimizing’ video streaming data across the board for any users on the program, regardless of whether or not that streaming is coming from a Binge On source. Legere calls this “adaptive video technology” that is intended to”‘stretch” data usage. This way, video-hungry Binge On users can still feel freer about using their data to stream content from services that aren’t a part of Binge On. “You get the same quality of video as watching a DVD but now use only one-third of your data – or, of course, no data when it’s a Binge On content provider. That’s not throttling!”

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YouTube asserted that “Reducing data charges can be good for users, but it doesn’t justify throttling all video services, especially without explicit user consent.” Google has naturally sided with YouTube in this issue, which is unsurprising considering both are owned by Alphabet Inc. Google has also expressed concerns related to net neutrality in the issue.

Legere, however, disagrees with YouTube’s definition of throttling. “What throttling is is slowing down data and removing customer control. Let me be clear: Binge On is neither of those things.”

This is no different than a car manufacturer adding an economy feature on your car.

The Electronic Frontier Foundation seems to believe that this is all well and good… supposing T-Mobile customers are aware that their video quality will be degraded across the board if they choose Binge On. However, this doesn’t seem to be the case right now. In a blog post, the foundation reported that these side-effects of signing on with the program are buried deep in the fine print. They emphasized that if T-Mobile would be more forthright with their customers about how this program could affect their service if they choose to opt in, then the company would be obtaining more “meaningful customer consent.” As it stands, they find T-Mobile to be misleading their customers.

john_legere_t-mobile_heroSee also: Watch T-Mobile CEO John Legere festively throw shade at rival carriers29

Legere dismisses these criticisms, citing the amount of love the program has received on social media since its inception. He even went so far as to express bewilderment at the recent fire Binge On has come under. “So why are special interest groups, and even Google, offended by this?” he asks in the video released today. “Why are they trying to characterize this as a bad thing? I think they may be using net neutrality as a platform to get into the news.”

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What are your thoughts regarding the controversy surrounding T-Mobile’s supposedly binge-friendly data plan? On the one hand, it looks like giving customers the option to choose reduced video quality in favor of lower – or nonexistent – data costs is a reasonable trade-off customers may want to consider. On the other, it does seem like the downsides of Binge On were kind of kept under wraps as it was rolled out. Moreover, there is the issue of net neutrality to consider. Where do you stand in this? Let us know in the comments!

Next: Best Android phones (January 2016)


  • Linh

    Should have made it opt-in rather vice versa.

    Also, it’s clear and simple…..it’s THROTTLING.

    With BingOn, my YouTube video is throttled down significantly..lots of stuttering and buffering. I have to turn my quality down to 480p or less to match with the slow throttle speed.

    EFF did a test on this, and proved that T-Mo is THROTTLING.

    FCC needs to seriously investigate.

    • moew

      It’s not THROTTLING. IN FACT, every carrier has a contract clause where they can modify the quality of the delivered content, even if you don’t like it. I dare you look at your contract in detail.

      But let’s just call it THROTTLING cause I hate tmob :)

  • Mushytitan

    that’s BS. I can barely watch youtube because of this issue.

    • moew

      You would be able to watch MORE youtube, as they are delivering LESS bits (resolution) over the SAME connection. Still, F U Tmob.

      • Mushytitan

        It take me 10+ minutes to watch a 5 min. Video due to the amount of buffering and loading time for a video

        • AndroidDev123

          Umm, they aren’t reducing your connection speed, they’re reducing your video bitrate. As a developer it’s pretty clear to me how they do it. When you use adaptive streaming (the Auto resolution in most video players) the server provides a bunch of stream resolutions for the device to choose from based on the connection speed. If the connection speed drops so should the resolution to avoid buffering, and if the connection speed increases so should the resolution. All T-Mobile does is eliminate the HD resolutions as streaming resolutions, so you can’t get HD videos even if you have a fast connection (obviously reducing their network traffic). If you’re getting buffering frequently either you have a bad connection (lower than the lowest resolution in the adaptive streaming) or you’re watching a video without adaptive streaming (ex. you selected a specific resolution).

          • Mushytitan

            Really? See what I’m confused with is I never changed any settings and my connection hasn’t changed. A few months ago I was able to watch 1080p videos without any problems..

  • Goblin Shark

    Haha I was wondering when AA was going to get around to discussing this. I know how you guys absolutely hate to put anything on your site that is critical of your sacred cows like t mobile and one plus LOL If it was Sprint or Verizon you would have plastered it all over your site for the past two days.

  • SamsaraGuru

    If people using the service are happy with it and the only people complaining are businesses that are not part of the program, seems to me that what you have with Google and YouTube is a case of bitching for the sake of bitching because they fear their services will be less viewed. They choose not to be part of the program, thus streaming their services is not free of data usage charges. Tough, fact of life time for them. The Fair Use claim is just smoke screen for their real intentions.

    T-Mobile has done more to alter the mobile market landscape than all he other four big carriers combined. The other three Verizon, AT&T and Sprint were more interested in keeping their little kingdoms safe from change, fought tooth and nail not to give up the contract lock you up and throw away the key programs. Only T-Mobile broke from their cabal and came in with a successful alternative people liked and which ultimately put the other three in the position that they were forced to change and finally start to offer real value and compete. Let’s have a pity party for them.

  • Josias Kiemtore

    People are just BIG A**HOLES. T-Mobile gave you its hand and you want the whole arm!!! WTF!!!??? You freakin’ get to stream videos for no data at all, just f*ckin take it and SHUT UP ALREADY!!!!

  • Alex Ohannes

    I have T-mobile, and I wish the throttling would actually happen. It never does for me though. It’s sort of annoying opening a 7+ minute YouTube video and deciding after 15 seconds that I don’t want to watch it and having the whole darn video be buffered completely wasting my data. And I have Binge On enabled.

    And yeah, I agree with the comments that theorize that the only people whining about this are people who aren’t on T-mobile. If you are on T-mobile, great. If you aren’t, you don’t have quite as much authority to comment on the matter as people who do use T-mobile have.

    • SamsaraGuru

      I would speak with T-Mobile. Given we live in the amazing digital age, though I know noth ing about programing, I bet they should be able to create a quick disconnect function.

      • Alex Ohannes

        I’m sorry, but I don’t entirely know what you mean. Why would I want to disconnect anything? All I’m saying is that having video streaming throttled would benefit many customers, especially me.

        • SamsaraGuru

          My mistake, I realize now that what you were referring to with YouTube was he very irritating feature YouTube has of not being able to kill one of the their videos once you get started, which I also hate. If I understand correctly now?