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T-Mobile's John Legere Calls 'Bullshit' on Claims of Throttling

YouTube has accused T-Mobile of slowing its video streams.

via YouTube

T-Mobile Chief Executive John Legere described as “bullshit” charges that the carrier is throttling the speeds of video delivered through its new all-you-can-eat Binge On plan.

Legere responded to YouTube’s charges that T-Mobile was interfering with its video stream, even though the service is not among the participants in the Binge On program. A new report from the digital advocacy group the Electronic Frontier Foundation appeared to confirm the claim.

“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.”

Rather than indiscriminately slowing mobile video speeds, Legere said T-Mobile is using adaptive video technology to “optimize” the streams for mobile devices and to stretch data usage. 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 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.”

T-Mobile launched its Binge On program with much fanfare this November, saying subscribers could watch unlimited video from a list of content providers such as Netflix, Hulu and HBO without eating into their data plans. Legere predicted it would become one of the most popular un-carrier moves ever.

YouTube complained that T-Mobile was interfering with its video streams, throttling and degrading the quality of its videos, even though it’s not among the video services included in Binge On’s 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.

The Electronic Frontier Foundation conducted a test revealing that rather than “optimizing” video, the carrier throttles all Internet video streams and downloads for customers who choose to Binge On — regardless of whether the video provider is enrolled in T-Mobile’s program. Tests revealed speeds were capped at 1.5 megabits per second, which in certain cases might result in stuttering or uneven video quality.

“Many of T-Mobile’s customers don’t realize that Binge On has this unfortunate side effect — especially since T-Mobile has buried the fact that Binge On throttles all video in their fine print,” EFF staffer Jeremy Gillula wrote in a blog post. “If T-Mobile were to be clear with its customers that enabling Binge On meant all of their video would be throttled, and then ask them whether or not they wanted to opt in, then they could obtain meaningful customer consent.”

Gillula writes that T-Mobile’s actions run contrary to the principles of the Federal Communications Commission’s Open Internet rules which, among other things, prohibit Internet Service Providers from blocking or deliberately targeting lawful content to be delivered more slowly than other traffic.

“Net neutrality is about the ISP not being in the business of telling you what things you can do with your Internet connection,” he said in an interview.

Legere said the consumer remains in control of the experience and decides whether to take advantage of Binge On.

“So why are special interest groups — and even Google — offended by this? 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,” Legere said.

The FCC has asked T-Mobile, Comcast and AT&T to discuss their new video plans.

“We made a big deal at the Open Internet that we wanted to welcome innovation, that we wanted to see that new and innovative ideas, increased competition,” FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler said at the time. “But that we also wanted to keep aware of what was going on.”

Here’s Legere’s full video:

https://twitter.com/JohnLegere/status/685099565045841920

Asked by the EFF if Binge On alters the video stream in any way “or just limits its bandwidth,” Legere doubles down on the proprietary technology angle, then launches into an attack on the advocacy group.

“Who the fuck are you anyway EFF? Why are you stirring up so much trouble,” Legere responds. “And, who pays you?”

https://twitter.com/JohnLegere/status/685201130427531264

That didn’t go over well with some on the social platform, who took issue with Legere’s shoot-the-messenger approach.

https://twitter.com/eldang/status/685211292668309505

https://twitter.com/0xabad1dea/status/685220859661955077

This article originally appeared on Recode.net.