Attention-grabbing hijinks from T-Mobile are hardly new. The self-styled “uncarrier” has staged flash mobs and trolled competitors’ headquarters with skywriting as well as expletive-filled Christmas carols. This time, though, the magenta carrier’s mixing marketing with booze: T-Mobile’s posted a drinking game for Verizon’s upcoming quarterly earnings call.
Very much embodying its off-the-wall, anti-establishment image, T-Mobile’s crafted an step-by-step guide to properly imbibing during Verizon’s Q4 earnings report this Thursday. A few of the suggestions include taking a drink every time a Verizon executive uses the term “millennials” or references a year-old network test, and taking two drinks if the carrier brings up “monetization” or Go90, its new video platform.
A few topics call for downing your entire drink, T-Mobile says: Verizon announcing that “it will copy [T-Mobile benefits] Music Freedom, Binge On and/or Mobile Without Borders in the next year,” conceding that “its network advantage is gone,” or, most colorfully, admitting that “its millennial strategy is just the result of a midlife crises.”
T-Mobile’s stunt is firmly tongue in cheek, needless to say, and maybe just a tad misguided (Who watches earnings calls voluntarily?), but in part, it may be an attempt to redirect attention from mounting condemnation of its Binge On program.
Binge On, which allows subscribers to the carrier’s Simple Choice plan to stream standard-definition video from a partners including Netflix, Hulu, and HBO without eating into their data plans, has been criticized as a throttling scheme by consumer advocacy groups and others.
In a report released early this month, the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) accused T-Mobile of lowering all video content to 1.5Mbps regardless of service or network conditions, and YouTube alleges that Binge On violates the Federal Communications Commission’s (FCC) Net neutrality rules by failing to provide a mechanism for customers to opt out.
But Binge On has its supporters. In a letter to T-Mobile, Comcast, and AT&T regarding similar “zero data” and sponsored data programs, FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler described it as “highly competitive and highly innovative.” And following a particularly aggressive response to accusers by T-Mobile chief John Legere, Netflix CEO Reed Hastings voiced support for Binge On.
T-Mobile’s Binge On saga is just beginning to play out — the FCC has yet to launch a formal investigation, and the carrier’s sticking firmly to the terms of its original service — but it might not be a bad idea to follow the company’s advice in the meantime: grab a drink and enjoy the ride.
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