Thank you T-Mobile for your terrible Fair Use Policy

I just noticed that visitors to this website increased sharply over the last few weeks.  Looking into it further, it seems that 60% of the people who visited the site had searched for something about T-Mobile’s ‘Fair Use Policy’ (see earlier posts).

My guess is that most (if not all) of those people had had letters about so-called ‘excessive use’ of their T-Mobile broadband. 

T-Mobile still has “Browse as much as you want and never worry about cost with our unlimited price plans” on its website.  It is not unlimited!  There is a maximum speed, and if you download too much they slow the speed down so much that surfing is impracticable, and it’s slowed for the rest of the contract term.  How is that ‘unlimited’?

No other (major) mobile broadband provider caps the speed if you exceed the usage limit, but they do charge for any data you use in excess of the limit:

Vodafone Mobile Broadband charges £15 per GB if you exceed their limit.

3 Mobile Broadband charges £100 per GB thereafter if you exceed their limit.

O2 Mobile Broadband charges £200 per GB if you exceed their limit!  £200 per GB!!!!

If you feel that these caps and charges are unfair and/or extortionate, please leave a comment (even if it’s just “Me too”).

Still want to buy mobile broadband?  If so, check the ads to the right, and send a few pence my way (at no cost to you).  Thanks.

Well, I guess that ends any hope of a mobile telecoms company sponsoring my motor racing career.  Come to think of it, I’m looking for work at the moment too, so I guess these are four companies I won’t have to contact.

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’?

T-Mobile update, and podcatching software for Windows Mobile 6.x

Customer services told me that they can’t deal the matter further, and suggested I write to their customer services department in Doxford.  Sent the letter yesterday.  Will let you know the result.

What she did say on the phone is that the 64kbps speed will last two weeks, but if I subsequently exceed the data allowance then they’ll make it permanent.  I’ve asked for confirmation or clarification of the policy as I can’t find it on their site.

My phone, an MDA Vario III (HTC TyTN II) uses WiFi or HSDPA mobile broadband.  If I leave WiFi on, when I leave the house I get an annoying popup every time the phone finds a WiFi connection asking if I want to connect.  So, I’ve been using the mobile broadband exclusively.

What was putting me way over the data allowance was downloading audio and video podcasts overnight.  I use the excellent Beyondpod, a “free, open source, RSS feed reader and podcast manager (podcatcher) for Microsoft Smartphone and Pocket PC. ” 

I’ve set BeyondPod to download new podcasts at 4am daily.  What I didn’t know (and there was no way to find out) is that the podcasts used 4.27GB in October.  The T-Mobile ‘fair use’ amount is 1GB.  1GB = approx eight one-hour audio podcasts or less than three video podcasts a week.  I think it was October that I found the video podcasts, and BeyondPod will have downloaded some older podcasts too.  In any case, three hours worth of video podcasts isn’t that much.  That’s without any surfing too.

The day after my call to T-Mobile about their ‘fair use’ letter, BeyondPod released a new beta version.  One of the features of this new version is an setting that prevents the downloads if the only data connection is mobile broadband.  In other words, it only downloads if I’m connected to my home broadband via WiFi.  I also found a button on the keypad that toggles between WiFi and mobile broadband, so all I have to do is remember to toggle when Ieave or return to the house.  Even if I forget, BeyondPod won’t download the podcasts if the phone is set to mobile broadband.

In summary, I’ve worked out a way of reducing my mobile broadband usage considerably.  I’ve told T-Mobile about this in my letter.  Now I’m waiting to see whether they’re going to take a ‘fair’ view of my situation.

T-Mobile mobile broadband ‘Fair Use’ Policy: Fair or unfair?

It’s been a difficult couple of weeks, but I hope that’s behind me as I look forward to the new week ahead.  More on that another time.


This is just an unplanned post about some ‘discussions’ I’m having with T-Mobile about their ‘fair use’ policy on their mobile broadband.  This isn’t the broadband USB dongle that I plug into my laptop, it’s the surfing I do on my mobile phone.


They’ve written to me to explain that in October (2008) I exceeded the amount of data that they think is a ‘fair use’ of their service.  The letter explained that if I continue to exceed that amount in November then they would cap the speed to 64kbps (just over dial-up speed).  The problem is that the letter arrived on the 24th of November, by which time I had probably already exceeded their fair use allowance again.  Basically, I feel like I’ve been stitched up.


I’ve got over a year to run on the contract too, so I’ll be paying the full amount for a ‘broadband speed’ service, but will have little more than dial-up speeds.  Surfing at those speeds nowadays is not practicable.


Okay, so I exceeded the fair use amount in the contract (there are other issues too, but I won’t complicate things at this stage).  The thing is, there’s no way to monitor how much data I’m actually using.  The first I know about it is the letter I receive, and by then it’s too late to do anything about it.

I’ve had a lengthy phone call with them tonight, and will be faxing them a letter tomorrow to try to resolve the situation.  This is T-Mobile’s opportunity to show whether they are ‘treating customers fairly’.