Print 19 comment(s) - last by lawrance.. on Oct 17 at 11:02 AM

Internal T-Mobile memo outlining the new data policy.  (Source:
Another nail in the unlimited data coffin

You might remember when T-Mobile, back in August, was being sued for throttling its "unlimited" data plans without any indication its plans were anything but unlimited. Well, it doesn't look like the nation's fourth-largest carrier is going to stop doing so. Instead, it will decrease the data cap to 5 GB, and do a better job of telling its customers about the policy, Tmonews reports.

Starting October 16, if customers exceed 5 GB of data usage in a single billing cycle, they will receive a text message warning them that their data speeds will be reduced until the next billing cycle starts. T-Mobile claims this policy will affect less than 1 percent of its customer base -- the "extreme data users" -- and will ensure "that all subscribers receive the best Web performance available by limiting the number of extreme data users on our network."

Previously, T-Mobile capped usage as it saw fit (usually at around 10 GB) thanks to the following paragraph of fine print:

To provide the best network experience for all of our customers we may temporarily reduce data throughput for a small fraction of customers who use a disproportionate amount of bandwidth. Your data session, plan, or service may be suspended, terminated, or restricted for significant roaming or if you use your service in a way that interferes with our network or ability to provide quality service to other users.

This was the issue in the class action lawsuit filed against the company. What many don't realize, however, is that the company has been capping its WebConnect USB aircards at 5 GB for some time now. The latest policy change will align all of the company's data plans.

With the latest development, T-Mobile has -- as is often the case -- taken a different route than its larger competitors. AT&T began offering capped data services in June (with 2GB as its highest option). Rather than throttling speeds after exceeding the capped amount, the company charges what are, in effect, overages. Verizon, too, has announced plans to launch capped data some time next year. And while Sprint hasn't expressly stated plans to follow suit, CEO Dan Hesse has indicated the provider would be open to charging even more for 4G (it currently charges an additional $10), or going to tiered data plans.

Is this the end of unlimited data plans as we know it?

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Why I don't have a data plan
By macemoneta on 10/14/2010 11:02:00 AM , Rating: 2
This is one of the reasons I don't have a cellular data plan; the lack of intelligent management of bandwidth.

Why cap a person's bandwidth if they exceed an arbitrary amount of data, if there's no congestion? According to T-Mobile (and other carriers), their entire network can be idle and they will only pass a trickle of data once the cap has been exceeded. How does this help anything?

This is the reason I oppose caps; they have nothing to do with the claimed issue at hand. Instead of capping an individual, why not lower the maximum data rate across the board during periods of congestion, to actually address the issue? This would be similar to the practice followed by the power utilities, that lower voltage during periods of peak demand.

The actions taken by the carriers appear to be more about increasing already exorbitant revenue rates rather than addressing network peak usage.

RE: Why I don't have a data plan
By twhittet on 10/14/2010 11:56:03 AM , Rating: 4
By "punishing" the users who consistently user more data, they hope to bring that user's average data rate down. If you downgraded everyone's speed, it would punish (and piss off) everyone equally, and would not bring down the higher-use users at all.

Perhaps a hybrid of your idea - if they were to decrease bandwidth on high-use users during congestion only. It would keep the network stable, while also punishing only the users who deserve it.

This would require more intelligent network management though.

RE: Why I don't have a data plan
By Souka on 10/15/2010 11:34:36 AM , Rating: 2
Why even have caps?

Just have an included monthly allowance of bandwidth...say 5GB... go over it, pay by the MB.

Oh wait, this already exists... nevermind.. ;)

But continuing along this thought...

To "punish" the extreme users, over 8GB you pay 3x per MB...
Also with this idea, why not accelerate bandwidth somehow for extreme users....and generate more $$$ :)

What's coming next... price per MB based on speed? 1xRTT being lowest, 3G being middle, and 4G a premium?

RE: Why I don't have a data plan
By sprockkets on 10/14/2010 11:57:59 AM , Rating: 2
Why cap a person's bandwidth if they exceed an arbitrary amount of data, if there's no congestion?

Would you rather them throttle data all day long whether or not you exceeded your allotment?

Penalize the data hogs, not the normal users.

RE: Why I don't have a data plan
By spread on 10/14/2010 12:21:50 PM , Rating: 2
Penalize the data hogs, not the normal users.

What data hogs? If I pay for a plan I want my money's worth.

RE: Why I don't have a data plan
By sprockkets on 10/14/10, Rating: 0
RE: Why I don't have a data plan
By Samus on 10/14/2010 12:53:00 PM , Rating: 2
I think this is the most plausable action T-Mobile could take, considering every other option hurts everybody.

RE: Why I don't have a data plan
By spread on 10/14/2010 5:55:51 PM , Rating: 2
Those who have no life and download over 5GB on their PHONE, DUH.

It's not just a phone, you can also tether it to a laptop and do work on that.

RE: Why I don't have a data plan
By sprockkets on 10/14/2010 10:38:05 PM , Rating: 2
Officially no, not without a fee.

RE: Why I don't have a data plan
By redbone75 on 10/15/2010 10:50:24 AM , Rating: 2
If I pay for a plan I want my money's worth.

Therein lies the problem: carriers don't clearly define your money's worth, nor do they clearly define what happens and how when/if you exceed your money's worth.

RE: Why I don't have a data plan
By OoklaTheMok on 10/14/2010 1:52:13 PM , Rating: 2
All data plans are over-rated and over priced. 4G may be worth the price, but I am on a 2.5G (Edge) device and I have to pay for 3+G service.

So many areas and times when I have a full bars and data comes through in trickle mode if at all. Why do we have to pay so much for a service that has such a low Quality of Service?

I don't think that data plans should cost any more than $15-20/mo for general usage unless they are going to start guaranteeing coverage and throughput. When mobile data works it's of course great, otherwise it's generally an over-priced turd.

By EasyC on 10/15/2010 7:28:11 AM , Rating: 2
For Sprint still remaining unlimited... for now at least.

RE: +1
By T2k on 10/15/2010 8:52:06 AM , Rating: 2
Bullsh!t. Sprint caps when you go voer their limit?
What limit , you may ask...? Ahh, they won't tell you.

Sprint is worse than TMO, let alone their data network is way behind TMO's - well, right now EVERYBODY is behind TMO's HSPA and it will stay like this for a year or two.

RE: +1
By EasyC on 10/15/2010 9:40:12 AM , Rating: 2
I have never reached this cap you speak of. Oh, and I consistently get 10mbps... more than what Comcast can offer me....

My buddy had T-Mo, and they kept trying to bend him over even though he was a "preferred customer".

This is just asinine
By MeesterNid on 10/14/2010 10:03:56 AM , Rating: 2
Not the part about them capping the bandwidth or that they charge out of the nose for it, but that people continue to pay!!! I for one refuse to get a plan with the stupidly overpriced data plans...and let's not even talk about the total rip off that SMS is.

I hope that (eventual) ubiquity of WiFi and things like open spectrum WiFi will put the screws on the cell providers to actually start competing and as a result lower prices.

In the mean time though I vote with my $.

By sprockkets on 10/14/2010 10:18:40 AM , Rating: 2
This is NOT news. This has been policy since the start of their 3G service, and is CLEARLY spelled out on their TOS which has a link to said terms when choosing a data plan.

Who the hell needs 4G then?
By Belard on 10/14/2010 3:38:26 PM , Rating: 2
With all these data caps, especially at&t's 2GB limit (that is their standard $25 plan) - how are they supposed to sell their "at&t TV service" or expect people to watch HULU or other streaming services?

Slowing down the the service when it hits a ceiling is "okay", as long as it effects very few people and they offer a service for high-data users. Cutting them off completely kills the function.

Geez, at&t sells their own data-hogging apps for the iPhone and Android... kind of hard to use, eh?

At&T does offer a 5GB plan as well. Most users don't use above 2GB.

Who cares?
By lawrance on 10/17/2010 11:02:05 AM , Rating: 2
For anyone who needs more than 5 GB of data on a cell phone, I have this to say: GET A LIFE.

By CharonPDX on 10/14/2010 6:03:04 PM , Rating: 1
While I hate it, it does appear that unlimited data plans are dead.

Given a choice between:
1. Hit 10 GB then your data stops flowing
2. Hit 5 GB then you start getting charged insane overage fees
3. Hit 3 GB then your speed drops to 25-50% what you were getting

I'd pick 3. I'd rather have a lower data amount "guaranteed", with the ability to continue using data as much as I want beyond it at no extra cost. (Especially since, according to AT&T's meter, I average right around 1 GB a month.)

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