Print 41 comment(s) - last by serialjoepsych.. on Aug 18 at 2:55 AM

Carrier throttles data for users who exceed 5 GB or 10 GB of usage

While AT&T has done away with no-limit data plans in favor of tiered, capped plans (with Verizon expected to follow suit shortly), T-Mobile has continued to offer its customers unlimited* data services on all of its devices, including bandwidth-gulping smartphones.

Except there's a catch. Here it is, buried in fine print in T-Mobile's terms and services:

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.

And there is no asterisk next to "unlimited" on any of T-Mobile's merchandising. If you don't read all of the fine print, or a forthcoming sales rep doesn't warn you of the carrier's ability to throttle your data speeds as it sees fit, then you're stuck finding out the hard way, like one Trent Alvarez.

Alvarez has filed a class-action lawsuit in California against the nation's fourth-largest carrier, alleging he was misled by a T-Mobile sales representative to believe that the service plan he was signing up for truly was unlimited, ConsumerAffairs reports. Alvarez purchased two smartphones last year under two-year contract agreements. In May, he received this text message from T-Mobile:

Your data usage in this billing cycle has exceeded 10GB; Data throughput [speed] for the remainder of the cycle may be reduced to 50kbps or less.

Alvarez is alleging that the throttling renders the phones "essentially useless for anything other than making or receiving phone calls and text messages.”

The lawsuit demands an injunction that would prevent T-Mobile from advertising its plans as "unlimited," as well as restitution for the cost the class spent on smartphones.

The suit is similar to one brought against Verizon in 2007 by New York Attorney General Andrew Cuomo, who alleged invisible limits on what was marketed as "unlimited data." Verizon settled that lawsuit for $1 million.

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RE: Agreed....
By KC7SWH on 8/11/2010 9:47:42 AM , Rating: 2
But you're not buying unlimited bandwidth you are buying unlimited DATA . It might take forever but you can still have all the data that you are willing to wait for.

RE: Agreed....
By ICBM on 8/11/2010 10:25:05 AM , Rating: 2
I guess it would depend on how they used unlimited in their marketing. If they are offering unlimited data and advertising 3G speeds, I would think you should get unlimited data at those speeds, without a speed downgrade. I wish companies would either actually mean fully/truly unlimited, or just not use the term at all. I give AT&T a little credit for doing away with their unlimited plan because it was actually limited! If you don't mean unlimited, don't advertise it that way, that way there is no confusion. If it doesn't say unlimited, people can't get pissed about not having unlimited meaning what they think it should mean.

RE: Agreed....
By HotFoot on 8/11/2010 11:18:26 AM , Rating: 2
I would very much like the companies to keep a contract with arrangements similar to 5 GB at full speed and then whatever above that at some reduced speed. I like having a fixed bill and not having to worry about going over on data amounts. Slower speed is still good enough for most of the applications I use, though I wouldn't be able to Skype on 3G until the next billing cycle.

What I mean is the only part I would want changed is the name. Perhaps this is why I'm not in marketing, but I can't think of a good, catchy name for the arrangements currently in place. "Almost Unlimited" just... doesn't seem as grabbing.

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