T-Mobile clarifies plans to throttle unlimited customers

T-Mobile clarifies plans to throttle unlimited customers
Recently, there was a report that claimed T-Mobile was planning to throttle certain types of high-usage data for unlimited customers, but it turns out that isn't quite accurate. T-Mobile wants to set the record straight, and is explaining that it won't be throttling the majority of users, but is cracking down on those who are using their data connections in ways that violate company policies.

The odd thing is that the original leaked memo was accurate, but T-Mobile wanted to clarify anyway. T-Mobile will crack down on specific users who run a full-time web cam or a server, or uses their phones for large-scale peer-to-peer file sharing, just as we thought when we saw the memo, but T-Mobile wants to clarify that these activities have been banned as part of their terms of service anyway. The company is only now cracking down on the highest usage customers. Part of the issue is that while mobile data is unlimited, tethered data is not, and many of these activities are done through a tethered connection. 

T-Mobile's Chief Marketing Officer Mike Sievert told Re/code that right now, T-Mobile only has plans to reach out to about 20 customers found to be in violation of these policies. T-Mo will work with the users to change behavior, and if they don't T-Mo will reserve the right to cancel their service. Sievert was clear to point out that this is a very different policy than that of Verizon, which plans to throttle the top 5% of data users when they are using large amounts of data in highly congested areas. 

source: Re/code



1. torr310

Posts: 1619; Member since: Oct 27, 2011

A regulation is needed because 10% of people are consuming 90% of the limited resource.

8. a_merryman

Posts: 749; Member since: Dec 14, 2011

And those are the people who will ruin unlimited data plans for the rest of us who don't abuse them in ways they aren't meant to be used T_T

9. Finalflash

Posts: 4062; Member since: Jul 23, 2013

Yes, but the ones who usually suffer are the people not doing those things when they become collateral damage from blanket throttling of certain types of activities.

2. NexusPhan

Posts: 632; Member since: Jul 11, 2013

It's those 20 D-bags that brag online about their 1,000+ GB of usage per month on torrents. They absolutely should be throttled (or outright dropped). If T-Mobile reaches out to anyone 100 GB and below I'll then be upset.

13. Commentator

Posts: 3722; Member since: Aug 16, 2011

Golly, and I thought 50GB per month was a lot. Well, I can sleep easier I guess.

15. 14545

Posts: 1835; Member since: Nov 22, 2011

I think 50 gb is a lot.... I think anything over about 20 is a little much. (especially if it is on a regular basis.) However, I still think that, every once and a great while, can be reasonable. Now, if you are blowing through more than that, you need to buy home internet and stop using your connection for your sole means of internet connectivity. That's just being a jerk to everyone. I hate seeing those a...holes that rack up like 500 gb in a month. I don't even do that on my home lines, much less phone.

3. drazwy

Posts: 347; Member since: Jan 15, 2014

Lol 20 people.

4. avalon2105

Posts: 352; Member since: Jul 12, 2014

Imagine that, people buying UNLIMITED plan and using it to download/upload a large amount of data. If they needed to use only 3 or 5 or 7 gigs whey would've bought a LIMITED plan accordingly since it would be cheaper. Sad thing is they don't fear loosing customers since competition is even worse.

6. mikebhome

Posts: 1; Member since: Aug 14, 2014

It is unlimited, unless you violate the TOS. Which you agreed to, as soon as you became a customer. Read the fine print, and you won't have anything to complain about.

12. avalon2105

Posts: 352; Member since: Jul 12, 2014

So if I upload 25GB to Google Drive>delete it from my HDD>download>delete it from GD>repeat the same process for a month they will not punish me. To me it looks like T-Mo can't back up their claims of providing "unlimited" data to their users and are using p2p users and streamers as scapegoats. This is all hypothetical since I'm not a T-Mo user or even in the US, just that I hate seeing companies use "fair use" and ToS to screw their customers.

17. YourNickname

Posts: 127; Member since: Aug 14, 2014

>>Not a tmo customer >>Not even in the Us >>hypothetical abuse spite, via hypocritical use of $$subscription cloud >>hates contracts that helps 99.999% of user's experience >>violating ToS = fair use Sounds legit mfw no green text Mfw i have no face

19. avalon2105

Posts: 352; Member since: Jul 12, 2014

Hypothetical situation was me (or anyone) uploading and downloading a large amount of data through means other than p2p or hd video streaming. Again, hypothetically one could use much larger amount of data and not get throttled than someone who is torrenting 50GBs per month. My question is, is it based on total used bandwidth (like in a case I stated above) or simply using torrent in any quantity. Secondly, nowhere did I say that ToS and fair use principles are the same, just that ISPs or network providers use both to limit user experience and cheat them of something they promise in their marketing materials. Thirdly, we are not on 4chan, so no need for green text or mfw or similar BS. If you want to discuss and comment about something you are free to do so, but if someone writes a proper sentence at least reply with proper sentence yourself.

22. YourNickname

Posts: 127; Member since: Aug 14, 2014

This is teh internets. Asking anyone to reply properly is like asking has anyone been so far as to look see do more? "Secondly, nowhere did I say that ToS and fair use principles are the same" YOU'RE RIGHT.(bc ive never said you did, lol) theres this wierd thing where delusional people(especially on the internet) "prove" theyre right by pointing out firstlys and secondlys that had not been in context or even mentioned with whoever poked holes in their swiss cheesey logic. Its like a weak mind makes up imaginary flawed arguments just so it can be victorious in atleast something. "just that I hate seeing companies use "fair use" and ToS to screw their customers." THATS what you said, incase you forgot. They cheat the TOS, they deserve to be cheated. Youre wrong, tmo is right. Hypothetically i could download 3x 1gb movies a day and have no life watching 4.5hours of movies a day 30days a month. I could also hypothetical read the article and know that hypothetically my hypotheticals have nothing to do with the 20users that violate tos, tether over the 5gb tether limit(not even in fine print), become a server/ heavy cam streamer, or torrent.

25. avalon2105

Posts: 352; Member since: Jul 12, 2014

In your first reply to my post you said ">>violating ToS = fair use", and since it was direct reply to my post I assumed that you claimed I said so. Secondly, I don't know where or how did you came to conclusion that I tried to "prove" anything. I simply asked is it possible to upload/download large amount of data without using p2p (like in ridiculous example with Google Drive) and not be throttled while someone who uses 10% of that amount of data gets warned/throttled simply because of the method used. Are they targeting users based on amount of data (like over 100, 200 or even 500GB per month) or based on protocol used (p2p, streaming) even if it is only 10, 20 or 50GB used. If you can answer my question please do, if not, there is no need to continue this debate since I'm really not interested in replying back and forth if it's going nowhere.

31. elitewolverine

Posts: 5192; Member since: Oct 28, 2013

As a tech agent in the cell field, if you think tmo doesn't know a person who torrents vs someone being a tard and doing your example I got a bridge to sell you. GD will not trigger their system. People use 3rd party apps to tether beyond their allowed limits, there is no unlimted tethering plan. Tmobile knows when this happens, it is when people got away with using 10gb of tethering on a 5gb plan, shoot up to 500gb cause their hacked worked and now they are shocked to find themselves blocked. As you responded to a cooking analogy we actually fight that battle each day in society. Put a group of people near a river, tell them no limit, and you don't think 4 people would get mad at that dbag who blocked off the water to use it all? You see data is unlimited with a given spectrum, but if you start to hog it all and infringe on others who use the service you're a dbag.

37. avalon2105

Posts: 352; Member since: Jul 12, 2014

I'm aware that any ISP or network provider is perfectly aware if you are torrenting through their network, watching Chinese cartoons or gay porn. Problem I keep on trying to point is that they are discriminating based on method used and not the actual amount of data. My opinion is that a dbag doing something like my GDrive example SHOULD trigger their system and get a warning/throttle rather than someone who downloaded couple of movies in the middle of the night. And since you said you work as a tech agent in mentioned field, do you have any insight on my question in second paragraph of post #22'

38. elitewolverine

Posts: 5192; Member since: Oct 28, 2013

But a couple of movies will not trigger it either. One month of 100gb or 500gb will not trigger, but you keep doing it and it will trigger it. As in response to i think #19 not #22 since that is another poster, your question more about bandwith usage vs what you use it for? Mainly what you use it for and not just overall bandwith usage. Of course anything could be considered 'fair'. So in your example, since going to GD back and forth just for the hell of it, and is only one month not a trend, no TMO wont care. And since GD is considered private storage unless you choose to share it, it's ToS will govern what is acceptable as well. However if you do it month after month they might send you a fair use warning, or throttle. The best part about the agreement, throttle does not mean stop, just that they will cap your speed. You are still unlimited, you can still go to GD and back again, just dont expect blazing fast speeds, they will limit you, so that others can enjoy their service. Lets now consider the reverse, what about a situtation of 15 people, all 15 were allowed to torrent constantly and eat up the bandwith. Now that one person who doesnt, but does use data in large amounts has slow speed or connection issues, does he have a right to complain? He is owed data just as much as the others... However, if you start to use your phone as a torrent, which by any net provider is a no-no, then it will trigger it. As an example, my friend downloaded, "Hook" the movie a few years back, his cable provider sent him a letter, knowing what movie, from what website, the size of file, and let him know that downloading for that type of site and torrenting in that manner broke his ToS and was suspended for a month.

39. avalon2105

Posts: 352; Member since: Jul 12, 2014

Thanks for a detailed reply. I really needed some numbers to put things in the perspective and if you are allowed to use 50-100GB every month like some other users claim they are using with no throttling I see no real issue. Still, it would hurt me to have my torrent use blocked since torrenting equates to 80% (at least) of all my bandwidth but that is a problem with protection that MPAA and RIAA receive from US lawmakers. At least where I live you get the data amount you purchase and are free to use it as you see fit as long as it's not in direct violation of the law (child porn, fraudulent business practices of any kind of scamming). You can turn your phone into mobile server, seedbox, XDCC bot or anything you want if you have enough bandwidth.

43. elitewolverine

Posts: 5192; Member since: Oct 28, 2013

But are you buying data or buying speed? No provider, cable, web, mobile, isp etc will guarantee speeds, unless your one a line that requires speed for say gaming stores, servers etc. But in reality you buy the access, LTE Speeds can vary from 10Mb/s up to 150Mb/s. I routinely in the day hit 28Mb/s and at night at the home hit 35+Mb/s. Because there is such a broad spectrum, is 10Mb/s throttled? You will certainly feel the speed reduction if you are getting 40Mb/s vs 10Mb/s. So say you do torrent, if limiting you to 5Mb/s or even 10Mb/s (the two speeds at which we normally consider LTE to be slow and have a support created to look into the network), is that breaking their agreement? That you have unlimited data, how much you can use, vs unlimited speed or guaranteed speed.

44. avalon2105

Posts: 352; Member since: Jul 12, 2014

Since we don't have 4G I have to "settle" for 3G speeds. They are usually around 9Mb/s for both upload and download and pretty stable all the time. I don't really use it that much since WiFi is available pretty much everywhere. Heck, even the public transport buses have free hotspots to use while commuting. Like I said speed is pretty stable so I can't really say I was ever throttled but can't say anything for other users since almost nobody uses data connection. Like I said, free WiFi is everywhere and so people usually chose smallest data package since there is no need for bigger packages or unlimited plans. As for your last paragraph, if you get throttled to 5 or 10Mb/s (and I can hardly call that throttling since average T-Mo LTE speed is 11Mb/s) you really should be happy, but they did claim they will reduce speeds to 2G network and that is a lot less than 10 or even 5MB/s. I'm not sure if I understood your 2nd paragraph but my ISP actually has to guarantee data speeds stated in contract. Only exception is if they are repairing/changing infrastructure, but even then they have to notify you 2 days in advance and still provide usable connection speed (around 2-3Mb/s), even during the repairs.

41. Jommick

Posts: 221; Member since: Sep 10, 2013

This comment gives me the feeling that most of us here work(ed) for a cellular company in some form and only come here because it isn't blocked.

42. elitewolverine

Posts: 5192; Member since: Oct 28, 2013

I do so at work lol, i would garner a good amount that visit PA has worked in some capacity with a carrier or tech or sales with mobile devices.

11. Commentator

Posts: 3722; Member since: Aug 16, 2011

Something tells me that 20 people in however many millions probably isn't going to rock the boat too much.

32. JC557

Posts: 1917; Member since: Dec 07, 2011

FFS, entitlement mentality of geeks... They are still getting UNLIMITED DATA but that doesn't mean always at a high rate of speed. In fact if the tower gets congested enough the speed will be throttled anyway except it'll come to a screeching halt the more people that are on it. Wireless bandwidth is not infinite at a given time as a tower can only handle so much. Then there's the back end server dealing with the host of thing s that can also get bogged down. If you don't live in a large metropolitan area then you have no clue on how bad congestion can get.

5. PapaSmurf

Posts: 10457; Member since: May 14, 2012

I thought this was pretty obvious, but according to the comment section on the other article, some users on this site do not know how to read. It's still fully unlimited data, but if you stream live video, upload/download files through torrents, T-Mobile is going after your ass.

14. avalon2105

Posts: 352; Member since: Jul 12, 2014

But what other ways are there to use so much data beside torrenting or HD video streaming? I really can't see any other way to spend so much data on a mobile device and isn't it logical that users need 100s of GBs of more if they are buying unlimited plan. If 3 or 5GBs was enough for them, they would've bought a limited plan package.

16. 14545

Posts: 1835; Member since: Nov 22, 2011

I do both of those on my mobile device, as well as occasionally tethering, and I still have yet to use more than 11 gb in an entire month. If you are using more than 30-50, you need to get a home line and stop being a jerk.

21. avalon2105

Posts: 352; Member since: Jul 12, 2014

I'm not a T-mo user or even in the US, and I use 200-300MBs (yes that is megabytes) of data per month, but my point is why would someone who pays for unlimited data have to limit their usage just because network provider can't provide what they promise to all their users. It really isn't an unlimited plan if you are forced to use only 3 or 5GBs every month. I understand that you get pi**ed off if your network is to congested so you get slower speeds, but shouldn't you be angry at your provider (T-Mo in this case) and not other users. In the end, all they are doing is using a plan they paid for, they did/do fork out 70/80$ per month for their data plans.

23. YourNickname

Posts: 127; Member since: Aug 14, 2014

Yes, i hate tmobil for not spending millions to improve their network immediately to support the 20douches that fork out 80$ a month. Corporations are evil. And yes tmobil is evil for forcing unlimited users to use 5gb every month because that is a true and factual statement. GARLIC BREAD RECIPE -Garlic -Bread -butter (OMG Fine print ToS) -oregano (OMG THIS ISNT GARLIC NOR BREAD) -parmesan cheese(OMG false advertisinggg, this wasnt promised!!)

29. avalon2105

Posts: 352; Member since: Jul 12, 2014

Nice analogy you got there, but not really accurate one. If you like baking analogies so much I'll use one for you. T-Mobile: Her, make all the bread you can make. Users: That's great, where do I sign. T-Mobile: Now, there is this little thing. While you are technically free to make all the bread you can think of, you'll have to do so with 1l of water. You see, Alex down the road also wants to make some bread and we have only so much water to spare. User: But you clearly said "All the bread I can make". T-Mobile: But you eat to much, 1 bread per day is enough for you, Alex said so.

Latest Stories

This copy is for your personal, non-commercial use only. You can order presentation-ready copies for distribution to your colleagues, clients or customers at https://www.parsintl.com/phonearena or use the Reprints & Permissions tool that appears at the bottom of each web page. Visit https://www.parsintl.com/ for samples and additional information.