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T-Mobile Clears The Air After Leaked Document Suggested Data Throttling For Unlimited Customers

August 14, 2014 - Written By Ray Greer

Earlier this week, news broke about data throttling plans T-Mobile had for heavy users thanks to a leaked internal memo. However, T-Mobile’s Chief Marketing Officer Mike Sievert came out to clear things up a bit for users. Sievert essentially said that the leaked document was misinterpreted and that T-Mobile has plans to approach the issue differently than what was originally assumed.

Originally, the leaked document was thought to mean that even though some users are paying for unlimited data, they could face a throttling if the data has been misused. Some examples of misuse of T-Mobile’s unlimited data service consist of large peer-to-peer file sharing, or using the service to operate a full-time web camera. These misuses could affect the data services for many users on the network, which is why this was assumed to be the case. However, Sievert says that T-Mobile offers unlimited data to it’s customers-and unlimited means unlimited. “There’s no limit on data,” Sievert said. “People can use it as much as they want on their smartphone(s).”

Still, misuse of the data is a violation of the terms of service that T-Mobile currently has for their users. Peer-to-peer file sharing, or excessive use of data through tethering is prohibited in the terms of service. This means that T-Mobile does hold the right to throttle the service if a particular user is trying to find ways to work around the limits set by the terms of service. Still, T-Mobile wants to find different ways to help users know that they’re in violation of the terms of service, and could face throttling.

T-Mobile plans on simply making a phone call to the users who’re currently in violation to warn them that they’re in violation. Since these customers are paying for the service, they feel they can get further by just working with these customers, instead of going straight to a punishment. “We are planning to reach out to them and let them know and help them change.” Sievert said during an interview. If after the phone call users continue to violate the service, they could then face data throttling. Though T-Mobile hopes to only use this option as a last effort to get change out of the customers in violation. The effort will start with the top 20 heavy data users currently on T-Mobile’s network.

One of the reasons T-Mobile wants to try to solve this issue without throttling is due to the attention given to the issue by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC). After Verizon Wireless made some changes to their data throttling policies, the FCC has been investigating the issue across all major carriers in the US. The biggest issue the FCC has, is the idea of throttling customers who pay for an unlimited data plan. Sievert says that T-Mobile’s plan of attack on this issue can’t be compared to Verizon’s policy changes. “This is so apples and oranges, it’s absurd.”

T-Mobile has been making an effort to become the people’s carrier, and this is just another example of that effort.