T-Mobile's Ultra-Hip CEO Not So Ultra-Hip When It Comes To His Clumsy, Status Quo Opposition To Net Neutrality

from the phony-baloney dept

Ever since regulators rejected AT&T’s dodgy acquisition justifications for the T-Mobile deal, T-Mobile has taken on new life, disrupting the wireless sector with a number of consumer-friendly policies that have included dismantling the traditional subsidized phone model. A big part of that consumer-friendly attitude has come in the form of CEO John Legere, whose often hilarious foul-mouthed tirades, Twitter rants and faux-punk rock attitude are a welcome change from the mindlessly-optimistic and rote recitations of most CEOs.

At the same time, more than a few people have pointed out over the last year that Legere (whose career started with a twenty-year stretch at AT&T and a notably more stodgy stint as Global Crossing’s CEO) is really just performing a cartoon caricature whose revolutionary spirit only goes so far. Prime examples are not only the company’s private admissions that it’s loathe to compete on price, but also Legere’s un-nuanced positions on net neutrality, illustrating the CEO is immeasurably more status quo than his persona would have the tech industry believe.

Earlier this year, T-Mobile announced with great fanfare they’d be exempting the most popular music services from the wireless company’s usage caps. We were quick to point out that while perhaps appealing superficially to consumers, this practice violates net neutrality by giving larger, more popular services a leg up over smaller, less-known competitors. T-Mobile was also criticized by Public Knowledge for exempting speedtests from the company’s caps in order to mask the company’s throttling practices. At the time, Legere was “genuinely surprised” by the criticism, arguing that because nobody was paying T-Mobile to bypass the caps — it wasn’t a neutrality violation.

Fast-forward to this week, and Legere is showing again that he really doesn’t understand what fundamental net neutrality is really about. Responding to the President’s surprise unequivocal support of Title II reclassification, Legere went on quite a Twitter tirade about the perils of “overzealous” regulation, proclaiming that weaker, legally-dubious Section 706 rules were better than the Title II approach, because, well, “innovation!”

In short, you’ve got a “pro-consumer” company that only exists because regulators prevented a duopoly from eating it — complaining about regulatory intervention that’s necessary to protect consumers from duopoly. As The Verge did an excellent job pointing out, Legere’s simply engaging in “classic regulatory doublespeak” in order to protect his company’s right to enact aggressive and anti-consumer pricing models sometime down the line. For examples of this ambition, you only need to look toward T-Mobile US’s sister operations under Deutsche Telekom in Hungary, where T-Mobile recently started charging users more to access select content and services:

“Here?s how it works. T-Mobile offers access to areas of the Net to its users for a fixed fee per month. So for €5, for instance, a user may be able to use Spotify for the month; he or she can browse the open Internet at night for €10; and it can access DT?s IPTV for €3.20 per DAY. It looks like an a la carte cable company menu and it just breaks every possible rule and/or understanding of the way the Internet should be priced and nurtured.”

While T-Mobile US’s efforts are decidedly less ham-fisted than this, they’re no less of an example of a carrier using arbitrary usage caps to fiddle with the user experience to its own ends. It’s also a prime example of how easily people can be fooled into signing off on neutrality violations under the guise of creative pricing, and how rules need to be very clear in prohibiting this kind of behavior — regardless of whether or not it’s presented under a shiny veneer of purportedly consumer-friendly, ultra-hip paint.

Filed Under: , , , , , , , ,
Companies: t-mobile

Rate this comment as insightful
Rate this comment as funny
You have rated this comment as insightful
You have rated this comment as funny
Flag this comment as abusive/trolling/spam
You have flagged this comment
The first word has already been claimed
The last word has already been claimed
Insightful Lightbulb icon Funny Laughing icon Abusive/trolling/spam Flag icon Insightful badge Lightbulb icon Funny badge Laughing icon Comments icon

Comments on “T-Mobile's Ultra-Hip CEO Not So Ultra-Hip When It Comes To His Clumsy, Status Quo Opposition To Net Neutrality”

Subscribe: RSS Leave a comment
Anonymous Coward says:

I have Verizon and went to a T Mobile store to switch, friends have done so and saved money. I wanted the family plan for 4 at $100 a month. They also have a “We will pay your early termination fee” deal.

The problem is that while my friends switched from AT&T and their phones could utilize the T Mobile network, Verizon phones can’t (different technology.) So I would get the $100 a month plan, but still have to buy the phones (which of course they build into your monthly payment.) End of the day, I save zero money in switching to T Mobile.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

Wait… So you are saying that because you went, knowingly, with a carrier using proprietary technology (only along with Sprint), you are blaming T Mobile for using the open-source version of said technology? You have some pretty backward priorities…

Just spend the dime to get a new phone, sell the other on Ebay. At least then you can go to other carriers (aside from the only two using CDMA) without swapping phones.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:

I am not blaming T Mobile for this, just that their marketing message isn’t all that its cracked up to be. They talk about low cost, but for any Verizon customer switching, it really isn’t lower.

The sales guy started out that pitch, saying he would save me about $80 a month. Dumb people may actually believe that. We walked through the extra charges and the monthly bill would come out to about the same.

Anonymous Coward says:

Twitter rants and faux-punk rock attitude

Twitter rants and faux-punk rock attitude

Drilling down into the “hilarious foul-mouthed tirades” link leads us to: “John Legere: How The T-Mobile CEO Is Poised To Make Millions After Bringing The Company Back From The Dead”, by Steve Kovach, Business Insider, June 2014

 . . . It’s that kind of boasting and showmanship that has helped turn T-Mobile into a branding story just as much as it is the story of a company coming back from the brink of collapse. Whether Legere’s gratuitous swearing, toying with the press, and public shaming of his competitors is a gimmick or not is almost irrelevant. . . .

If you want to be cynical, you can say T-Mobile’s moves over the last year and a half is a play to make the company as attractive as possible for a sale. It’s not about building the best wireless carrier, but growing the number of subscribers at a rapid pace so that maybe, soon, someone will come along with an attractive offer.

Is it Ultra-Hip to be cynical?

Can any dude get branded as both Ultra-Hip and punk? Does an Ultra-Hip punk get laid more often? Are Ultra-Hip punks cynical?

Shmerl says:

T-Mobile has clear net neturality violation right in their TOS

For instance, their “unlimited” plan states, that there no caps for traffic which originates on the primary device, but if you connect other devices to it through let’s say WiFi hotspot or the like, traffic from those devices is limited by 5 GB monthly cap:

> UNLIMITED 4G LTE data (includes up to 5 GB of Smartphone Mobile HotSpot (SMH) service)

It’s a clear prioritization / discrimination of certain traffic and an obvious violation of net neutrality.

That One Guy (profile) says:

“Here’s how it works. T-Mobile offers access to areas of the Net to its users for a fixed fee per month. So for €5, for instance, a user may be able to use Spotify for the month; he or she can browse the open Internet at night for €10; and it can access DT’s IPTV for €3.20 per DAY. It looks like an a la carte cable company menu and it just breaks every possible rule and/or understanding of the way the Internet should be priced and nurtured.”

If they thought, for even a second, that they could get away with something like that in the US, they would do it.

Likely the only thing holding them back from rolling out a ‘payment plan’ just like this in the US is knowing that it’s blatantly broken enough that even the ‘see no evil hear no evil’ regulators would have to crack down unless they wanted to abandon all pretense of being on the public’s side.

Zay says:

Re: Re:

T-Mobile is absolutely less expensive. The reasons you’ll see similar pricing monthly are things like getting multiple $700 phones at $0 down instead of buying them for $300 on contract at Verizon (or AT&T) – which distributes the entire cost monthly over two years vs paying a good chunk up front to lower the monthly bill – and T-Mobile giving you more data, no overages, better upgrade plans, etc. You either pay less up front, less monthly, or get much more out of the plan. Very, very rarely do you get none of those things with T-Mobile and often you get all three simultaneously. I work for T-Mobile and see it many times a day.

Anonymous Coward says:

They have added other music streaming services that aren’t well . They added well known ones first cause they know a lot of their users can take advantage of the feature faster cause a lot of their users use 5he popular music streaming services over othera that aren’t well known. Not sure why it’s taking so long to add google music but they’ve already said that they will add that to and will continue to add later.

Andrew D. Todd (user link) says:

The WiFi Bypass

An interesting article: Cellphones, tablets, are developing the ability to automatically use Wi-Fi when it is available, and the signal gets routed through comparatively inexpensive landlines.

Brendan Greeley, What Wi-Fi’s Popularity Means for Cell Phone Carriers, Business Week, January 02, 2014


Add Your Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Have a Techdirt Account? Sign in now. Want one? Register here

Comment Options:

Make this the or (get credits or sign in to see balance) what's this?

What's this?

Techdirt community members with Techdirt Credits can spotlight a comment as either the "First Word" or "Last Word" on a particular comment thread. Credits can be purchased at the Techdirt Insider Shop »