Open Letter to Consumers about Binge On

By John LegereJanuary 10, 2016

Wow.  What a week it has been out there about Binge On!  Many of you have been speaking out on the topic from a number of perspectives and I have been listening closely.  I debated with myself about letting this topic drop completely so everyone, consumers and our customers, could catch their breath – but the discussion has gotten so convoluted that I had to do some follow-up to help clarify a few things before we can move on. 

But first, let me reiterate some things about T-Mobile that have been lost or buried in the dialog over the past week or so. 

T-Mobile, my entire leadership team, and I have been advocating for consumers since the launch of the Un-carrier – and that will NOT change.  We are forcing this industry to make changes, to be more transparent and to be more competitive.  I won’t apologize for that.  I think it is absolutely in the consumer’s best interest! 

Equally important to note is this:  T-Mobile is a company that absolutely supports Net Neutrality and we believe in an open and free Internet.  We want to continue to innovate and bring creative new benefits to market for all of our customers.  That is who we are.  It’s what we do.  It will never change.

Second, I think it is really important for everyone to understand what Binge On is, why it is such a great option, and how it can bring you – the consumer – value…. IF you want to enjoy its benefits.

We invented Binge On to provide customers with an easy and effective way to stretch their data bucket.  Knowing that the number one (and climbing) use of data out there is video, it was obviously the natural place to focus.  Binge On is like an economy button built into a new car to save gas, and it’s a benefit that customers got the minute we launched, to use it as much as they want to.  Period.

But there is suddenly a LOT of confusion about Binge On.  I keep hearing from customers that they love it – but have recently heard from some others (many of whom have never even tried Binge On, and simply have a different agenda) that they don’t like it.  Well you know what?  That is completely OK too. 

Look, innovation in this industry is important and it can be tough, but debating the merits of anything that breaks new ground is healthy!  Unfortunately, right now some people may be confused, so this letter is to help break it down:

What is Binge On?

Binge On is a FREE benefit given to all T-Mobile customers.  It is and always has been a feature that helps you stretch your data bucket by optimizing ALL of your video for your mobile devices.  It has two key parts to it: 

  1. We use our proprietary techniques to attempt to detect all video, determine its source, identify whether it should be FREE and finally adjust all streams for a smaller/handheld device.  (Most video streams come in at incredibly high resolution rates that are barely detectable by the human eye on small device screens and this is where the data in plans is wasted).  The result is that the data in your bucket is stretched by delivering streamed video in DVD quality - 480p or better (whether you have a 2GB, 6GB or 10GB plan etc.) so your data lasts longer.  Putting aside the 38+ services for which we provide FREE data for video through Binge On, as discussed below – this “stretching” of your data bucket is estimated to allow you to watch UP TO 3X MORE VIDEO from your data plan than before. This is a huge step forward.
  2. Binge On gives you FREE data that doesn’t hit your data bucket at all when you stream or watch from any of our participating video services (38 of them to date & counting).… We want to keep growing this list and already have over 50 services interested in coming on board.  We don’t charge any video streaming companies to participate and every service provider is WELCOME!  All the partner has to do is a minor amount of technical work to help us identify their video data reliably. 

How do I get Binge On?

As with virtually all of our Un-carrier benefits, we immediately gave it to everyone!  First we reached out to all of our customers via email and SMS message, and told them all about the new functionality that was coming their way.  Then we turned it on, for everyone!  So if you are a T-Mobile customer – you already have Binge On! 

We strive to default all of our customer benefits to “ON.”  We don’t like to make customers dig around to find great new benefits -- that is something a traditional carrier would do when they really hope you, the consumer, won’t take any action.  Can you imagine the disappointment, if people saw our TV commercials about Binge On, then went to watch 10 hours of video expecting it to be free, and only THEN learned that they needed to go into their settings to activate this new benefit?  That’s how the Carriers would do it, but not T-Mobile.  Everyone has it from day 1, period.

But here’s the thing, and this is one of the reasons that Binge On is a VERY “pro” net neutrality capability -- you can turn it on and off in your MyTMobile account – whenever you want.  Turn it on and off at will.  Customers are in control.  Not T-Mobile.  Not content providers.  Customers. At all times.

Stream in HD for a movie, and go back to stretching your data bucket when you are done.  It is 100% up to you – the consumer.

Look, by now you know that I am a vocal, animated and sometimes foul mouthed CEO.  I don’t filter myself and you know that no one at T-Mobile filters me either (no, they don’t even try).  That means I will sometimes incite a bit of a ‘social media riot’, but I’m not going to apologize for that.

I will however apologize for offending EFF and its supporters. Just because we don’t completely agree on all aspects of Binge On doesn’t mean I don’t see how they fight for consumers.  We both agree that it is important to protect consumers' rights and to give consumers value.  We have that in common, so more power to them.  As I mentioned last week, we look forward to sitting down and talking with the EFF and that is a step we will definitely take.  Unfortunately, my color commentary from last week is now drowning out the real value of Binge On – so hopefully this letter will help make that clear again.

For now, I hope you will remember one very important thing. 

T-Mobile is about breaking the mold, eliminating the status quo and finding new and better ways to give consumers what they want.  We will keep working to do that, keep improving, and yes I’m sure I’ll keep shooting my mouth off periodically.  That comes from my passion, drive and fight to fix an arrogant and broken industry that is dominated by big companies that want to keep the status quo and don’t care enough to engage with the consumer or to even have the public debate (yes, I mean you Comcast, AT&T and Verizon). 

So no matter the issue, I promise you that I’ll keep listening to customers, keep eliminating pain points and keep fighting hard for wireless consumers, because that’s why I’m here!  #wewontstop.