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T-Mobile under attack over net neutrality

John Legere, Braxton Carter

T-Mobile US has been hitting the headlines for the wrong reasons this week, as the team has come under criticism from consumer group Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) and Sprint.

Following last week’s energetic announcement from CEO John Legere, the new unlimited data plan T-Mobile One has fallen foul of the EEF, with the team stating the offer falls foul of net neutrality principles. The T-Mobile US offer does offer unlimited data, though those who exceed 26GB over the course of a month would run the risk having their usage throttled to slower speeds. T-Mobile claim only 3% of these customers would be subject to such an instance, though this is seemingly enough for the EFF to vocalise its disapproval.

“From what we’ve read thus far it seems like T-Mobile’s new plan to charge its customers extra to not throttle video runs directly afoul of the principle of net neutrality,” said EFF’s Senior Staff Technologist Jeremy Gillula in an interview to the Daily Dot.

This is not the first time the EFF and Legere have locked horns. Back in May Legere questioned who the consumer group were in a rather abrupt manner, after the EFF conducted some analysis into BingeOn. It claimed that video quality and network speeds users experienced while streaming videos through BingeOn were lower than non-BingeOn services.

Net neutrality was the focus of this spat also, though the latest episode of the saga has gone one stage further. Subscribers to the T-Mobile One plan will have videos limited to streaming in standard definition, or 480p quality, though there is an option to pay an additional $25 per month on each line to view videos in higher quality. T-Mobile US is fully entitled to charge this fee, though it does go some way to create a two speed internet, and pose the risk of the Uncarrier souring relationships with customers.

Alongside the comments from the EFF, there have been a few public exchanges between Legere and Sprint CEO Marcelo Claure, as each claims their own organization was the brains behind the unlimited data offers, with the other playing copy-cat. T-Mobile US was first to launch the campaign, though Claure claimed the fact T-Mobile US will not launch the offer until September 6th shows it is a reaction to Sprint’s offer, which is now live. Claure believes the launch was in fact an emergency press session put together in an effort to beat his team to market, with the delayed launch evidence of this theory.

“Sprint’s got problems of their own, they’re not investing in their network, they have huge balance sheet issues, they have new plans that need to be done,” said Legere in an interview with CNBC. “This is not about them; it’s about us going directly after Verizon and AT&T whose networks cannot handle this and us responding to our customers. Since we did the first Uncarrier move post-paid mobile phone customers to T-Mobile have been 11.2 million. The rest of the other three minus 250,000. So trust me, we respond to no-one, we listen to our customers, we’re changing the industry.”

“Just copy and paste everything I do, and you’ll be fine,” a comment which was directed towards Claure and other T-Mobile US competitor. While the saga is proving to be entertaining for those watching the drama unfold, it is starting to get a little bit childish.


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