I'll be honest — when the first few T-Mobile "Uncarrier" events rolled out, I became an instant fan of John Legere's trash-talking act, if only because it's fun to hear someone call Verizon and AT&T "dumb and dumber" on a corporate stage. But two years and 10 Uncarrier events later, T-Mobile CEO John Legere is sounding less like a renegade and more like the mendacious suits he loves to pretend he's usurping.
So it's disappointing, but not surprising, to see Legere in full spin mode in response to legitimate complaints that his company's BingeOn service (and the Music Freedom service before it) pose threats to net neutrality. In a video published today called "Critics Beware!", Legere, wearing a giant Batman symbol around his neck, said he was forced to "set the record straight" on his dubious schemes, and that he's "concerned, frankly, confused, on why this was an issue." We know you read The Verge, John, so we're happy to explain it to you — again, and again, and again.
We could go through Legere's dumb and disingenuous response to BingeOn criticism line by line, but I'd like to zero in on the worst thing he said — a line that reveals the magenta emperor is really wearing the same clothes as his entitled industry peers.
"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 are trying to use net neutrality as a platform to get into the news. At T-Mobile we're giving you more video, more for free, and a powerful new choice on how you want your video delivered. What's not to love? Who the hell do they think they are? What gives them the right to dictate what my customers or any wireless consumers can choose for themselves?"
What gives us — people, public interest groups, the FCC — the right to decide how internet service providers, especially wireless providers, should protect and empower consumers? The laws of physics — something Legere's favorite caped crusader can't even violate. T-Mobile, Verizon, Sprint, you name it: none of these companies could exist or operate without receiving enormous concessions of a finite public resource: the electromagnetic spectrum. There's only so much of it to go around, and as a civilized society we long ago decided the cost for being able to reap private profits over such an essential public resource is that you damn well better listen when the public tells you it wants those resources to be used for a free and open internet.