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T-Mobile to tackle customers who abuse unlimited data

In an open letter, T-Mobile has promised to crack down on users who are abusing device tethering limits as part of the company's unlimited data plan.

Published onAugust 31, 2015


T-Mobile’s John Legere has published an open letter to its consumers, informing them about upcoming action to be taken against individuals who have been “stealing data from T-Mobile”. While that might sound a little odd, the company is actually planning to target customers who have been abusing its unlimited data plans, by consuming as much as 2 terabytes of tethered data each month.

According to Legere, only a small fraction of consumers are abusing the rules. They have apparently been doing so by concealing tethered connections in an attempt to use high-speed LTE data as an alternative to a traditional broadband. Mobile bandwidth is a more limited resource, so these high consumption users are hogging resources that should be spread across a wider selection of T-Mobile customers.

“These aren’t naive amateurs; they are clever hackers who are willfully stealing for their own selfish gain. It’s a small group – 1/100 of a percent of our 59 million customers – but some of them are using as much as 2 terabytes (2,000GB!) of data in a month.”

To combat the issue, T-Mobile has apparently developed technology that is able to detect when customers are trying to hide their tethering activity. The company will be warning suspected customers about their activity before moving them over to a limited 4G LTE data plan, where it can more effectively cap their usage. T-Mobile has already identified 3,000 users who will begin hearing from the company this week.

“We’re warning these customers that they are violating our terms and conditions. If they continue to break the rules at any time, they’ll lose access to our Unlimited 4G LTE smartphone data plan and we’ll move them to a limited 4G LTE plan.”

The carrier is keen to point out that this decision is not about throttling the data of the vast majority of users who make sensible and fair use of their data plans. The company actually has a 7GB tethering limit on its unlimited data plan, after which speeds are already throttled down. T-Mobile is only after those customers which are deliberately trying to circumvent the contract rules regarding tethering.

Legere states that he “won’t let a few thieves ruin things for anyone else”, but do you feel that T-Mobile is treating its customers fairly?

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