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: disagree about *
By tech4tac on 8/11/2010 1:23:29 PM , Rating: 3
... Your right about that. I did my research BEFORE signing up and knew about it. It isn't hard to find.

I can't say it was a surprise that someone would sue over unlimited, it was a matter of time. Relative to the other big 3, T-Mobile has the most reasonable data caps and policy for overage (i.e. throttling down). This lawsuit will only hurt the rest of us whose contract is about to expire or are signing up for a new one. Why would T-Mobile continue to offer this type of data plan when it's competitors are moving to 2GB caps--especially when they are being sued for it. Will soon see tiered plans and hard caps.

I have my phone pulling email, syncing, downloading apps, web surfing, occasional tethering, etc. all day and only do 1GB-1.5GB per month. I'm going to assume, and for good reason, this guy was tethering. My understanding is that as of now, T-Mobile does not have an official policy on tethering but you can bet it's going to be clearly spelled out in their T&C in the near future and we'll probably be charged extra for it (if for no other reason then to specify every detail to avoid such lawsuits). This guy abused the system, feigns ignorance, and then whines because he didn't get his way. He benefited from T-Mobile's generous approach to tethering but sues because they didn't spoon-feed him the T&C on unlimited data.

RE: disagree about *
By Lerianis on 8/11/2010 4:50:28 PM , Rating: 2
Reasonable? 10GB's in a world where a high-quality video to watch on your phone can be 500MB's or more? Not reasonable to me.

It's time that these companies had the smackdown put on them, and were told "Unlimited means unlimited! No data caps, no throttling, no NOTHING! Just the full speed of the network that you can use it at! Same thing for 10MB, 8MB, etc. service. That is 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year, no throttling!"

Someone needs to tell these companies that while this pay be per se legal, it is anti-consumer and it is not going to be allowed.

RE: disagree about *
By heffeque on 8/11/2010 5:56:50 PM , Rating: 2
You DO know that, if everyone started using HSPA and LTE as their normal internet broadband, telco's would have to basically install an antenna every couple of homes, right? That doesn't seem too logical to me. It defeats the purpose of wireless communication if you have to wire up the whole country with antennas every few meters.
Oh, and the fact that people don't like to have cellphone antennas nearby, let alone dozens of antennas.

RE: disagree about *
By tech4tac on 8/11/2010 6:12:55 PM , Rating: 2
Perhaps you didn't see the part where I stated relative to the other 3 (5GB for Verizon & Sprint, and 2GB for AT&T), but since the other 3 don't advertise unlimited anymore you may have a point. Just what do you think will happen if this guy wins? Will it benefit you and other T-Mobile customers or just him and his lawyer?

I can imagine what will happen next. Soon, T-mobile will fall inline with it's peers and no longer advertise or offer "unlimited" plans. They'll bring their cap way down and offer 2GB/month like everyone else (or specify 1GB like they did with the initial G1 launch) and squash tethering. You'll get to be right, consumer "protection" laws will be followed more tightly, T-Mobile will get to charge more, and everybody else gets to be unhappy. It's a win-win situation!

RE: disagree about *
By sprockkets on 8/11/2010 6:24:32 PM , Rating: 2
Reasonable? 10GB's in a world where a high-quality video to watch on your phone can be 500MB's or more? Not reasonable to me.

Yeah, that's 20 movies a month, or maybe 10 if your cap is 5GB, and even then, you still can download and watch them without any extra charges, just not stream them.

Why would you want to watch 20 movies on a 4" screen anyhow? Because you want to go blind? Who streams these kind of movies for mobile devices easily anyhow?

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