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T-Mobile announces plan to throttle those abusing 'unlimited' data

updated 08:55 pm EDT, Wed August 13, 2014

P2P file-sharing, unofficial tethering both violations of the terms of plans

On the heels of Verizon's announcement that it will periodically throttle the LTE speeds of its most prodigious users during times of network congestion, a leak from T-Mobile has revealed a similar program -- but with a different approach. Rather than targeting a certain percentage of the heaviest users without discrimination, the carrier plans to first educate and then restrict the speeds of only those users who are in violation of the terms and conditions of the "unlimited' data plans through torrenting or tethering abuse.

A memo, first uncovered by TMONews, reveals that the company "has identified customers who are heavy data users and are engaged in peer-to-peer file sharing, and tethering outside of T-Mobile's Terms and Conditions (T&C). This results in a negative data network experience for T-Mobile customers. Beginning August 17, T-Mobile will begin to address customers who are conducting activities outside of T-Mobile's T&Cs."



The main customers affected by the new policy will be those who are on any "Unlimited High-Speed Data" plans such as the $80-per-month "Simple Choice" unlimited option. Even then, simply using a lot of data will not be grounds for the throttling; users must be "misusing" their plan's conditions by (among other examples) engaging in peer-to-peer (P2P) file sharing , bypassing approved tethering conditions, continuous web-cam broadcasts or "bot" network abuse.

Customers will receive a warning well in advance of any actual throttling, explaining what actions they are taking that are in violation of the T&C of their plan. Only in the billing cycle after the warning, and only if the abuse continues, will customers see a throttling effect that will last through the remainder of that billing cycle. Those affected will have their customer records updated so that service reps can quickly inform the customer of why their speeds have been reduced.

In a confirmation, the network said that the number of customers causing issues was "very small," but that "this type of usage can negatively impact our ability to offer affordable unlimited data." T-Mobile says it will take these steps only to "protect all T-Mobile customers."

Verizon's handling of the same problem sparked an FCC investigation into its, and later all carriers', throttling and data-management policies. Verizon, however, had previously agreed to avoid such moves under an agreement with the FCC over other abuses, and may not apply to T-Mobile depending on how the commission views the implementation of the policy. Verizon plans to choke off speeds of the top five percent of data-gulpers whenever it threatens network congestion.



By Electronista Staff
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  1. sdp4462

    Fresh-Faced Recruit

    Joined: 03-21-09

    A better idea would be for them to upgrade their systems, rather than dictate how users use the internet. Ridiculous corporate American policies at work. As a T-Mobile customer, I'm disappointed. Having said that, I think they are better than the other 3 major carriers in just about every other way.

  1. chimaera

    Forum Regular

    Joined: 04-08-07

    The way I'm reading their memo, they plan to throttle unlimited users at all times. Regardless of congestion.

  1. macmediausa

    Fresh-Faced Recruit

    Joined: 02-23-05

    #sdp4462 - obviously you don't understand how wireless frequencies work. T-mobile has the 1900mhz frequencies for the phones. Current technology has it as a "theoretical" maximum bandwidth of 672Mbits per second for that frequency for a given area. In some congested areas like NYC, San Francisco, LA, etc - with so many users if everyone started downloading videos that limit will easily be surpassed. So it's not as easy to just to upgrade the system as there are limits in Physics to how much data can be floated over a narrow band. That's why when the FCC auctions off a block of frequencies, billions and billions of dollars are offered for a small block so that a wireless company can accommodate more users and provide more data.

    Yes, the wireless companies can squeeze SOME more data through but that technology can easily cost $20 billion to upgrade a network (which would be outdated in as little as 5 years). I'm sure you would not want to pay a higher cell phone bill to get more advanced equipment (otherwise, you wouldn't be with T-mobile's cheaper pricing model)..

    I personally think the unlimited model has to go - as it can easily be abused. It's like certain people who go to all you can eat buffets with a hidden tupperware in their handbag (I've seen this happen more and more) stocking up sushi and shrimp to bring home. At least with restaurants, there is someone physically going around to look but with wireless, it's done with computers that may not have certain discretions on abuse

  1. nowwhatareyoulookingat

    Fresh-Faced Recruit

    Joined: 07-13-09

    What they don't mention is by "outside TMobiles T&C's" is that you used more than 100Mb of data in a billing cycle, so you will be throttled to 1k/s.

  1. SierraDragon

    Mac Elite

    Joined: 03-22-04

    It is not about "...obviously you don't understand how wireless frequencies work." It is about unethical oligopolistic ISPs who fully know how wireless frequencies work but choose to screw their customers because they can.

    The ISps sold _unlimited_ data plans with full cognizance of "how wireless frequencies work." Then (after thousands, perhaps millions of folks like paid extra year after year for "unlimited" without using it (yet)) conveniently for their bottom line screwed the folks who paid (betting on the come) for future unlimited data by creating the total unethical illegal con of throttling.

    This is a clear example of why we have governemt and why they need to seriously step on the ISP oligopolies stepping on consumers.

  1. SierraDragon

    Mac Elite

    Joined: 03-22-04

    Sorry for the typos in the previous post. MACNN/Electronista is a good site but the post editing capability is worse than incompetent. No excuse. The corrected post is reiterated below. Sorry.
    ---------------------------------
    macmediausa is for some reason apologizing for the unethical ISPs. Consumers did not create the "unlimited data plans," the ISPs did. And they did so with _total_ awareness of how it all works.

    It is not about "...obviously you don't understand how wireless frequencies work." It is about unethical oligopolistic ISPs who fully know how wireless frequencies work but very intentionally choose to screw their customers because they can.

    The ISPs sold _unlimited_ data plans with full cognizance of "how wireless frequencies work." Then (after thousands, perhaps millions of folks like me paid extra year after year for "unlimited" data without using it (yet)) conveniently for their bottom line screwed the folks who paid (betting on the come) for future unlimited data by creating the total unethical illegal con of throttling.

    This is a clear example of why we have government and why government needs to seriously step on the ISP oligopolies intentionally screwing consumers with full awareness of what they are doing.

  1. SierraDragon

    Mac Elite

    Joined: 03-22-04

    Sorry for the typos in the previous post. MACNN/Electronista is a good site but the post editing capability is worse than incompetent. No excuse. The corrected post is reiterated below. Sorry.
    ---------------------------------

    macmediausa is for some reason apologizing for the unethical ISPs. Consumers did not create the "unlimited data plans," the ISPs did. And they did so with _total_ awareness of how it all works.


    It is not about "...obviously you don't understand how wireless frequencies work." It is about unethical oligopolistic ISPs who fully know how wireless frequencies work but very intentionally choose to screw their customers because they can.


    The ISPs sold _unlimited_ data plans with full cognizance of "how wireless frequencies work." Then (after thousands, perhaps millions of folks like me paid extra year after year for "unlimited" data without using it (yet)) conveniently for their bottom line screwed the folks who paid (betting on the come) for future unlimited data by creating the total unethical illegal con of throttling.


    This is a clear example of why we have government and why government needs to seriously step on the ISP oligopolies intentionally screwing consumers with full awareness of what they are doing.

  1. Wingsy

    Fresh-Faced Recruit

    Joined: 04-14-05

    Definition of unlimited: not limited or restricted in terms of number, quantity, or extent.

    So somebody lied.

  1. DiabloConQueso

    Fresh-Faced Recruit

    Joined: 06-11-08

    Food for thought (no pun intended): Do y'all think that "all you can eat" buffets have the ethical and moral right to stop a handful of patrons after a certain, ridiculous, 5-hour-binge-eating spree?

  1. Flying Meat

    Dedicated MacNNer

    Joined: 01-25-07

    They should just completely stop using the term "unlimited". End of discussion. Period.

  1. Flying Meat

    Dedicated MacNNer

    Joined: 01-25-07

    No, DiabloConQueso. I do not.

    "All you can eat", is just that. If they have any ethical and moral guidance at all, they don't put up a sign like that, if it isn't true. "All we'll allow you to eat" would be the signage given the scenario you've suggested in your question. To deflect somewhat, they might word the sign something like, "All you can eat in 45 minutes" but then they'd need to time everyone, incurring an operation expense to set that up...

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