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Internal T-Mobile memo outlining the new data policy.  (Source: Tmonews.com)
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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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?


"I mean, if you wanna break down someone's door, why don't you start with AT&T, for God sakes? They make your amazing phone unusable as a phone!" -- Jon Stewart on Apple and the iPhone














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