John Legere, T-Mobile's brash CEO, is probably the only guy on the planet who dislikes AT&T more than I do. His "Uncarrier" initiatives must be a nightmare for his AT&T CEO counterpart, Randall Stephenson. In any case, TM is going after AT&T, this time using something right out of AT&T's own toolbox - DirectTV NOW.
AT&T has been using their relationship with Direct TV to drive business to their network. Just to even become eligible to sign up for AT&T's Unlimited Wireless plan, they require their subscribers to also bundle in either Direct TV or U-Verse, both services owned by AT&T.
T-Mobile just struck back hard at AT&T with the following Holiday Offer...
“AT&T wants you to think DirecTV is theirs exclusively, but that’s a load of crap," Legere said in T-Mobile's press release yesterday. "Both DirecTV Now and the DirecTV apps stream free on T-Mobile with a faster, more advanced network that covers nearly every American. AT&T is so distracted by their new businesses and DirecTV that they continue to ignore their 110 million wireless customers. Luckily, the Un-carrier’s here to show them how to actually take care of customers!”
T-Mobile also said it believes AT&T customers will end up preferring T-Mobile "even if you hate DirecTV NOW (we offer no guarantees, since it’s an AT&T product after all)."
As Legere noted, T-Mobile already exempted the DirecTV satellite service's mobile video app from data caps. When T-Mobile announced Binge On in November 2015, it exempted its own video service and rival video services from Verizon and AT&T, a move that may have helped fend off net neutrality challenges. DirecTV Now is a new online-only service that customers subscribe to separately from the DirecTV satellite plan, so it apparently had to be added to Binge On separately.
While T-Mobile does not charge competitors for data cap exemptions, AT&T exempts its own video from data caps while requiring other companies to pay for the same privilege. Federal Communications Commission officials recently accused AT&T of violating net neutrality rules with this practice, but AT&T yesterday told the FCC that the accusation is "nonsensical." AT&T probably has little to worry about because the FCC under President-elect Donald Trump will likely be run by opponents of net neutrality rules.
Joel Saltzman has over twenty years of wireless industry experience. He is currently CEO and Chief Wireless Analyst for Dr Wireless.