T-Mobile Denies Throttling Unlimited 4G LTE Customers

Is T-Mobile throttling its unlimited customers, too? On Thursday CEO John Legere jumped on Twitter to deny the rumor, saying that there is “no limit on data”.

The denial follows reports of an internal memo obtained by TmoNews that says the company plans to address unauthorized tethering and those sharing files via peer-to-peer networks. Somehow this bit of news turned into accusations that the company is throttling a specific group of customers.

“T-Mobile has identified customers who are heavy data users and are engaged in peer-to-peer file sharing, and tethering outside of T-Mobile’s Terms and Conditions (T&C),” the internal memo said. “This results in a negative data network experience for T-Mobile customers. Beginning August 17, T-Mobile will begin to address customers who are conducting activities outside of T-Mobile’s T&Cs.”

According to the document, customers with the old $70 Unlimited High-Speed Data plan that are violating the company’s T&Cs are the only customers that will be contacted. The company will explain to them the T&C and why the data speed may be reduced until the next billing cycle if they continue their pirating ways.

The document said that when approaching these users, the company will apply a “Misuse Warning SOC” to the account. If the customer stops downloading illegal content, then the label will be removed. If the downloading continues, then the account will be flagged with a “Misuse Throttle SOC” and the data speeds will be reduced.

Here’s a part of the T&C that clearly states what customers cannot do:

“…using the Service in connection with server devices or host computer applications, including continuous Web camera posts or broadcasts, automatic data feeds, automated machine-to-machine connections or peer-to-peer (P2P) file-sharing applications that are broadcast to multiple servers or recipients, ‘bots’ or similar routines that could disrupt net user groups or email use by others or other applications that denigrate network capacity or functionality,” the T&C states under section 18, Misuse of Service or Device.

Before CEO John Legere used Twitter to defend T-Mobile, Chief Marketing Officer Mike Sievert told Re/code that the memo was misinterpreted, making it seem that T-Mobile was out to throttle heavy data users.

News of T-Mobiles throttling confusion arrives after Verizon Wireless stated that starting October 1, it plans to throttle the speed of a specific group of 4G LTE customers with unlimited data plans. The company is targeting users that consume more than 4.7 GB in a single billing period and who are connected to a congested cell tower. Once the congestion subsides, Verizon indicated that it would then ease back off of the throttling.

News of the throttling didn’t sit well with the Federal Communications Commission (FCC). Chairman Tom Wheeler said that he was “deeply troubled” about the reports and sent letters to the major wireless carriers asking about how data is being managed.

Follow Kevin Parrish @exfileme. Follow us @tomshardware, on Facebook and on Google+.

Create a new thread in the US News comments forum about this subject
This thread is closed for comments
Comment from the forums
    Your comment
  • Spartan191
    I'm a telesales agent for t-mo.. We read the t&c and then even email it to the customer. In my opinion, if they're violating the terms then they should be punished for it.
  • spectrewind
    I'm a telesales agent for t-mo.. We read the t&c and then even email it to the customer. In my opinion, if they're violating the terms then they should be punished for it.

    Your opinion should have been caught in the interviewing process.... excluding you from employment. "Punish" and "customer" *never occur together in a successful business.
  • bigpinkdragon286
    Well, either the service is "unlimited" or it's not. If the purchaser of the service can not send and/ or receive data at full speed, 100% of the time, regardless of what that data is, it's hardly unlimited, and I hardly think T-Mobile should be able to advertise the service as such.