T-Mobile ‘Fair Use’ policy – my verdict

Here’s an update on the T-Mobile mobile broadband (on my mobile phone) saga.  I received a nice email as a result of my letter to their customer services.  It informed me that my speed would not be reduced in December because my usage in November did not break their 1GB limit.  I don’t understand that, because (apart from the last few days of November) my download habits were the same in November as they were in October, and in October I used 4.27GB!


They did clarify that if I exceed the 1GB limit in the future, the speed would be reduced from the advertised ‘up to’ 1.8mbps to 64kbps (a 96% reduction in speed) for two weeks.  If I went over the limit again after that, it would be a permanent reduction.


So, is the ‘Fair Use’ policy fair?  No!  There is no way to monitor your data usage on the phone, and there’s no way to see it on their ‘My T-Mobile’ online service.  So, how are you supposed to know whether you’re getting close?


Since this all started, a voluntary code of conduct for ISPs has been introduced, part of which states that an ISP will make ‘timely’ contact with a customer to warn him or her that he/she is approaching their limit.  I don’t know whether T-Mobile has signed up, so Google if you want to find out.


What would be fairer is to say that (with adequate warnings) if someone exceeds the ‘fair use’ limit, then any data in excess of that limit would have the speed reduced.  In other words, 1.8mbps for the first 1GB of data, and 64kpbs thereafter.  Otherwise we’d be paying for 1.8mbps each month, but getting only 4% of that speed.

Of course, all ISPs should be banned, yes banned, from advertising ‘Unlimited’ broadband when there are limits as imposed by a ‘fair use’ policy.  If the normal speed is limited (ie 1.8mbps), and the amount of data is limited (to 1GB), then I ask; exactly what part of the service is ‘unlimited’?

2 thoughts on “T-Mobile ‘Fair Use’ policy – my verdict

  1. Oh wow, this is bad news. Please let us know if you’re able to work anything out with T-Mobile UK (and if so, how you negotiated with them!). I’ll share my own situation, although it pertains to their mobile broadband (not a mobile phone web plan). But first one question: our broadband dongles came with a tracking program (of questionable accuracy/relevance, as it turns out, but more on that below). I can’t believe that they don’t provide something similar for a mobile phone web plan – that’s awful! I am admittedly new to trading regulations in this country, but I suspect that you have legitimate grounds for complaint & further action.

    My husband & I both purchased mobile broadband dongles with the Max and Plus packages respectively; we subsequently received letters last week stating that we both had gone over our limits. However, the tracking system bundled with the dongle doesn’t suggest an excess – at least on my account.

    I also can’t figure out how they calculate a month’s usage, as the amount cited in the letter seems to include the total GB downloaded from Oct. 27 (date of purchase) through approximately Dec. 15 or so. (Again, this is based on stats in the provided tracking manager – stats which I haven’t reset since original installation.)

    I’m quite nervous about discussing the issue with them, as T-Mobile UK seems *really* uptight about these things. I have been a T-Mobile US customer from 2003 (when I bought my first Sidekick) to the present. I currently have a Sidekick LX (which sadly can’t be unlocked for UK use) so when we decided to spend a year in the UK, I switched down to the cheapest phone-only plan just to reserve my US number. From the very beginning, T-M US offered a truly unlimited data plan at a reasonable price (I think it was originally $17.99!). Despite downloading truly massive amounts of data, I was never told to cut down. It’s quite a change for T-M UK to lecture me about (allegedly) exceeding the fair use amount by half a GB, especially when it comes to a broadband service. I don’t understand why the policies are so different when it’s ostensibly the same company…

    My husband, a web designer, (again, allegedly) exceeded his allowance by about 4GB if I recall correctly – granted, that’s a far more substantial amount – but he’s paying the premium for the biggest plan they offer! If his speed is lowered to 64kbps, we’re in big trouble.

    I wish you best of luck in your own negotiations with T-M UK. Do feel free to email me if you have any success with negotiations or advice! Sorry again about the length & frustration.

  2. Thanks for the comment.

    I have a dongle for my notebook too, so I know about the software you use; “Web ‘n’ Walk USB Manager”.

    My contract for the dongle-based service has a 3GB limit for £15pm, I think that’s on a 24 month contract. It’s worth pointing out that the limit includes download and upload; ie total data transmission, rather than just download.

    Unfortunately, the UK regulator doesn’t seem to have any teeth when it comes to telecoms here. And it’s no coincidence that T-Mobile and the other providers have very similar price plans and limits. I would go as far as to say it’s price fixing. Yes, it’s a competitive market, but they only reduce their prices to the level of the other providers.

    Not to defend T-Mobile, but when I looked into purchasing these services, the provider “3” had similar limits but when they were exceeded the excess data was allowed at high speed but charged at an extortionate rate.

    What the telecoms regulator should do is force to telecoms companies to give consumers the information they need to monitor the data usage, then we would have no argument with their T&C.

    For my voice contract, T-Mobile text me (SMS) weekly to tell me how much of my allowance I have left. It says “Your remaining Flext allowance as at 00:43 on 17/12, was £144.37, to use until your next bill on 04/01”. Why can’t they do the same (by email perhaps) for the broadband contracts?

    And if you’re over for two months, a permanent reduction in speed to 64kbps is just draconian.

    Please keep us up to date with your experiences.

    And if anyone else is reading this, please add to the discussion.

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