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T-Mobile says "download at home" after slashing data cap

mobile app downloads

By Nicole Kobie

Posted on 10 Jan 2011 at 15:54

Mobile operator T-Mobile has unveiled a new fair use policy, raising a few eyebrows by telling customers to leave high-bandwidth downloads for home.

From the beginning of next month, the policy will limit customers to 500MB a month, down from 1GB or 3GB, depending on the contract. "If you want to download, stream and watch video clips, save that stuff for your home broadband," a document on the T-Mobile site said.

A T-Mobile spokesperson has said the new policy will apply to all customers, including those who have already signed contracts with a higher cap. A message on the company's official Twitter account said: "We have to give you reasonable notice that our fair use policy is changing."

T-Mobile is touting the change as a benefit for customers, saying they won't be charged for going over that 500MB limit. Instead, they'll simply be banned for the rest of the month from downloading large files or viewing video via their handsets.

"Browsing means looking at websites and checking email, but not watching videos, downloading files or playing games," the company claimed. "We’ve got a fair use policy, but ours means that you'll always be able to browse the internet, it’s only when you go over the fair use amount that you won’t be able to download, stream and watch video clips."

The move takes T-Mobile in the opposite direction to rival 3, which has removed any limit on mobile data, keeping with the trend of more and more people accessing services such as video, the web and app stores over their handsets.

T-Mobile's new fair use policy, on the other hand, encourages users to save heavy-bandwidth services for when they get home.

"So remember our Mobile Broadband and internet on your phone service is best used for browsing which means looking at your favorite websites like Facebook, Twitter, Gmail, BBC News and more, checking your email and looking for information, but not watching videos or downloading files," it said.

Update: A T-Mobile spokesperson has since sent over a statement, saying the new fair usage policy was "in line with the industry".

“These restrictions will affect both new and existing customers, and will ensure an improved quality of service for all of our mobile internet users," the spokesperson said. "As the average mobile internet customer uses only 200MB of data each month, this will only affect a small minority of users, whom we have begun notifying."

“Customers who have a need for higher volumes of data will be encouraged to take up a separate mobile broadband plan," the spokesperson added. "We are confident that these changes will result in a better experience for all of our customers who use internet on their phone.”

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User comments

That's curious that on one side Hutchinson Telecom (owners of both T-mobile and 3, plus of course Orange) are seeing what happens with a low data cap and no charge for going over just a blocking of services, while on the other with removing the data limit entirely. Is this perhaps a cynical (or clever?) way to attempt to move T-mobile customers to new 3 tariffs? Makes more sense for Hutchinson to slowly close one of their mobile brands down, it's the infrastructure that's most important to them after all.

By skarlock on 10 Jan 2011

I have a t-mobile contract and I haven't received a text. I do have the £5 internet add on though. Can customers cancel their contract without charge? this will cost T-mobile customers but perhaps they want to shd the heaviest data users.

By JamesD29 on 10 Jan 2011

Hutchinson???

Orange is the trading name of France Telecom. they bought the name from Hutchinson in 2000
T-Mobile is the trading name of Deuch Telecom. In the UK they have merged UK buisnesses with Orange and are merging networks.
Where do you get the info that either T-Mobile or Orange are in any way owned by Hutchinson?
All I can find is details of a Hutchinson - Vodaphone merger in the Austrailian market.

By AnRuaRi on 10 Jan 2011

AnRuaRi is correct - Hutchison hasn't owned Orange (in the UK at least) since 2000. There is no way the authorities would allow one entity to hold the kind of monopoly that would arise by owning Orange, T-Mobile and Three - I'm kind of surprised the Orange/T-Mobile merger was allowed to go ahead.

By flyingbadger on 10 Jan 2011

I'm lost for words...

This looks to me like it will hit existing subscribers, so being 2 months into a new 2 year contract I'm less than pleased (to put it mildly).

I don't tend to download large files, but even so the 3GB limit made me take a T-Mobile contract rather than a contract on 3. Now I feel like I've been cheated.

And from the wording on the web site, it sounds like I should thank them for it too!

I don't suppose OFCOM would give a damn (do they still exist?)

By StuartN on 10 Jan 2011

I'm lost for words...

This looks to me like it will hit existing subscribers, so being 2 months into a new 2 year contract I'm less than pleased (to put it mildly).

I don't tend to download large files, but even so the 3GB limit made me take a T-Mobile contract rather than a contract on 3. Now I feel like I've been cheated.

And from the wording on the web site, it sounds like I should thank them for it too!

I don't suppose OFCOM would give a damn (do they still exist?)

By StuartN on 10 Jan 2011

save that stuff for your home broadband

While we continue to charge you the same amount as before.

By Lacrobat on 10 Jan 2011

cancel contract

Surely if they change the terms of the contract so significantly, I have the right to cancel the contract (and keep my phone!). I have emailed T-Mobile telling them I am cancelling as a result of them cutting my data allowance by 83%. I'll let you know what they say!

By profet79 on 10 Jan 2011

cancel contract part 2

After a long phone conversation,as suspected, I got nowhere. They claim their t&cs give them the right to change fair usage. I asked him if T-Mobile would have to the right to change it to, for example, 0 MBs. An 83% drop in data allowance is unreasonable - I will be writing to T-Mobile and Ofcom, returning my SIM and issuing a small claims summons when they send me the bill.

By profet79 on 10 Jan 2011

Unlimited data...

Sou would this be further limiting their 'unlimited' mobile internet?

By everton2004 on 10 Jan 2011

What about email attachments?

Do they count as downloads or checking emails?

"T-Mobile has yet to respond for request for comment."

Don't hold your breath, they've exceeded there cap on that front!

By BornOnTheCusp on 10 Jan 2011

links

are the links on the right out of date for anyone else?

The 'latest real world computing' list starts with 'does powerline networking nuke radio hams' from 2009 for me!

By GAZZAT5 on 11 Jan 2011

Ouch!

And I suppose it's just tough luck for those of us who are in rural areas without broadband!

By Waggers on 11 Jan 2011

1GB Limit

I have a 1Gb limit on my Android HTC Desire but rarely go over 100Mb each month as I use WiFi whenever I can. Therefore if it gets reduced to a 500mB limit it should not affect me. Having said that I am using it more and more for Sat Nav, RAC traffic alerts, and speed camera alerts which all require data download whilst in my car which may become a problem.

By BidAuto on 11 Jan 2011

'slashing data cap'?

When I saw the headline, I thought that T-Mobile were going the same way as 3. I'm glad I stuck with 3, apart from the customer service lines being rubbish (but aren't they all?), the deal I've got keeps getting better. I took out a £35 a month deal with 3 for 750 mins, unlimited texts and 1GB data with a free HTC Desire. About four months in I was moved to the One account with 2000 mins, unlimited texts and now (really) unlimited data. Plus I got a price drop to £25 per month! I can't see me moving to any other provider anytime soon.

By JGray on 11 Jan 2011

Very little in not many places

Kind of ironic given that the link up with Orange is titled Everything Everywhere!

A quote from their web site:
"we’re here to give our customers a better experience than they’ve ever had before – with the widest coverage, smartest support and, more choice and the best value" - they might need to revised that now.

By Craig_work on 11 Jan 2011

No video

T-Mobile says "don't watch video on your phone". This'll be the same T-Mobile which installs a YouTube player app on many of its handsets, and which on it's mobile site currently has, in the "New Stuff" section, the following: "VOD Plus. Like Movies? Watch full length new releases..."

Could someone please get the left hand and the right hand to talk to each other?

By PaulOckenden on 11 Jan 2011

'slashing data cap'?

When I saw the headline, I thought that T-Mobile were going the same way as 3. I'm glad I stuck with 3, apart from the customer service lines being rubbish (but aren't they all?), the deal I've got keeps getting better. I took out a £35 a month deal with 3 for 750 mins, unlimited texts and 1GB data with a free HTC Desire. About four months in I was moved to the One account with 2000 mins, unlimited texts and now (really) unlimited data. Plus I got a price drop to £25 per month! I can't see me moving to any other provider anytime soon.

By JGray on 11 Jan 2011

Oops - double post!

Mustn't refresh screen after posting!

By JGray on 11 Jan 2011

I was considering...

...switching to T-Mobile from O2, but they've just scotched that idea. I don't care if "the average user" only uses 200MB. I DO care that their attitude to that average user is "Yeah, we know what we told you, and what we sold you, but a) we changed our minds, b) you're screwed and c) there's nothing you can do about it.". Seriously, that's one hell of a bait and switch they've pulled.

By nichomach0 on 11 Jan 2011

PC Pro's view?

And what is your (PC Pro)'s view on this - will it affect your Buyers Guide to mobiles - issue 197? You say "Email, internet, social networking, photo sharing, satnav, gaming - you name it, the modern smartphone does it all." - t-mobile seem to disagree!

;->

By joecool12 on 11 Jan 2011

Bizarre timing...

... when 3 are removing the FUP from one of their tariffs - which also belies their claim that the reduction is "in line with the industry". I can see their leeching customers to 3, and I may join them.

By The_Scrote on 11 Jan 2011

Are they missing the point ?? "Mobile"

Like Paul said above, they sell it with apps installed though now they are trying to restrict their useage on the "Mobile" networks.. IS it me or is the whole point of having it on your mobile is that you can access it on the go. I'm sorry but if I'm at home then I'm going to use my pc or laptop to browse youtube, bbci player etc..

By R33BOOT on 11 Jan 2011

Are they missing the point ?? "Mobile"

Like Paul said above, they sell it with apps installed though now they are trying to restrict their useage on the "Mobile" networks.. IS it me or is the whole point of having it on your mobile is that you can access it on the go. I'm sorry but if I'm at home then I'm going to use my pc or laptop to browse youtube, bbci player etc..

By R33BOOT on 11 Jan 2011

Is PC Pro going to do anything about this...

or is this blog just for readers to uselessly vent?

PC Pro is the magazine with the expertise, the clout and the resources to challenge T-Mobile on this blatant and arbitrary change in contract terms. If you took up the fight on behalf of ripped-off users I'd be impressed. After all there's far more to phones these days than just email and web browsing. What about the live widgets on Android keeping abreast of the weather etc? What about Twitter?

The consumer blog bitterwallet.com has been useful for its readers in the past offering advice on how to challenge this sort of abuse by big companies. I would have thought PC Pro could do an even better job if it put its mind to it.

By Noghar on 11 Jan 2011

very misleading advertising

The website still tells me 2gb per month in one pace, and variations of 103Gb in others.

http://www.t-mobile.co.uk/shop/mobile-broadband/pa
y-monthly/

http://www.t-mobile.co.uk/services/uk/fairuse/?WT.
mc_id=fup

I'm not a mobile user so not too concerned, I just hate these false 'unlimited/fair use' clauses, particularly where so clearly abused.

By stephentgmail on 11 Jan 2011

Material Detriment?

I paraphrase from the Online Terms and Conditions from the T-Mobile site.

Section 2.11.2
"If You are a Consumer and the change is of material
detriment to You, We will send You Written Notice 30 days
before the terms and conditions are due to change. The
new terms and conditions will apply to You once that
notice has run out, unless You terminate Your Agreement
with Us within that notice period. If You do this You won’t
have to pay any Cancellation Charge that would otherwise
apply"

I'm not a lawyer, but I suspect if you can prove 'material detriment' means materially detracts from the value of the object in question, then I'd consider reducing the data allowance by 83% which in turn reduces your value of that object (i.e. you can't use the features on the phone), then I'd wonder if that reason for you to be allowed to leave your contract without charge.

T-Mobile sold Android phones with a much higher cap than other smart phones (3Gb opposed to 1Gb), suggesting they recognise the data centric nature of these phones.

This too would seem quite an underhand thing to try to pull off.

PC Pro, very interested to hear any followup comments from the T-Mobile press office.

The @TMobileUKHelp Twitter account seems a tad busy today handling customer questions...

By mark_aitken on 11 Jan 2011

Vote with your feet!

Ideally we'll all ditch T-mobile and switch to (say) 3.

Of course in reality we're all tied-in to swingeing contracts and can't change easily.
These contracts might actually be legally "unfair". This would make for an interesting test case.

By wittgenfrog on 11 Jan 2011

Hmmm... T-Mobile seems confused

Just been following this on MoneySavingExperts...

Started a tweet to t-mobile (they seem to have stopped following me as I asked a lot of difficult questions), so any RTs or DMs to them are appreciated :)

Tweet:
http://twitter.com/#!/VillainROM/status/2484186077
8303488

Original webchat with a sales rep:

http://bit.ly/egIZp0

By GlasgowGuy on 11 Jan 2011

Net Neutrality?

Just wondered, is this a form of net neutrality?

Seems to fit most of the criteria we've been reading about recently. :-)

Curious to know how they will throttle the service and detect what I'm doing...

By mark_aitken on 11 Jan 2011

Make a stand

So how about it PC Pro? - take a stand for you readers! Letters to Ofcom and T-Mobile Customer Services have sent - As soon as I hear back I will talk to a contract lawyer and see if I can start a case against this.

By profet79 on 11 Jan 2011

Renewed

I recently renewed my contract with W'n'W plus as I regularly use over 1Gb/ month and the 3Gb / month was ideal for me. I would not have renewed if it wasn't for the data limit.
I paid for an iPhone 4 and kept my contract with T-Mobile as they would not sell me an iPhone with my 3Gb limit.
How can I cancel my contract - much as I dislike Three, they are the only ones offering decent data limits now and I would have gone to them rather than paying extra for the phone and renewing with this bunch of con men.

By confucious on 12 Jan 2011

Truly unlimited mobile internet £10 a month

I've been with my network provider for over a year averaging 15-20GB a month usage. Mobile network providers need to realize that some of us with data hungry smartphones demand a better affordable package otherwise we we're not getting the most out of our phones. For a cheaper alternative see http://giffgaff.com/orders/affiliate/kelvinlewis and get a truly unlimited mobile internet for £10 a month without any data caps or fair usage policy.

By Kelvinl on 6 Feb 2011

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