T-Mobile exec who helped build TVision leaves for Canadian company

Dwayne Benefield appears in an undated image. (Graphic by The Desk)

A T-Mobile executive who helped put together the company’s fledgling streaming television service TVision has departed the telecom for a similar role at a Canadian company.

Dwayne Benefield accepted the lead role of senior vice president for connected home and entertainment at Telus, a Canadian telecom that provides television, video and Internet services.

Benefield transitioned into the new role in mid-January. His departure from T-Mobile was first reported by the website Light Reading.

At T-Mobile, Benefield led a team of workers who were tasked with putting together the wireless phone company’s new TVision streaming television offering. The service, which relaunched last year, sought to undercut expensive cable and satellite packages by offering top-tier programming for between $10 and $50 a month.

But TVision quickly drew the ire of some programmers, including Discovery and Comcast, who said they weren’t fully aware of T-Mobile’s plans for their streaming TV offering and accepted less-than-favorable terms based on what they were told.

Discovery executives were particularly upset, saying they were caught off guard by T-Mobile’s decision to relegate their channels into a cheaper tier called “TVision Vibe,” which cost just $10 a month on its own. The Discovery-programmed channels were not initially made available in T-Mobile’s more expensive “TVision Live” package, which started at $40 a month.

T-Mobile executives defended the two packages, saying they were viewed as separate streaming services with different agreements. But the company eventually relented in the face of controversy and merged the two packages around the holidays.

How much influence Benefield had over T-Mobile’s plans for TVision isn’t exactly clear, but he likely would have known about some of their strategy as one of the key developers of the service.

Benefield has already been replaced in his executive role at T-Mobile by Julie Goldthwait, who is now responsible for TVision’s marketing initiatives, Light Reading said.