T-Mobile USA president and chief executive officer John Legere has announced the Uncarrier company will now penalize a fraction of subscribers that abuse its network by using tools to “steal” data. Legere said individuals that “steal” data from T-Mobile could have a negative effect on customers if their activities are left unchecked.
When T-Mobile subscribers buy 4G LTE plans for smartphones, a portion of that plan allows them to use the data for tethering through the Smartphone Mobile HotSpot feature without any extra costs. Tethering allows subscribers to use their data on PCs and tablets using a smartphone plan. After subscribers hit the tethering limit, the data speeds slow down.
How do the subscribers “steal” the data? The subscribers that violate T-Mobile’s tethering rules usually download apps that hides their tether usage. Those apps make it difficult to determine how smartphone data is being used. Some of the subscribers that violate the tethering rules also root their phones and write code to mask activities. This issue is connected to about 3,000 out of T-Mobile’s 59 million subscribers.
T-Mobile’s $80 Unlimited 4G LTE smartphone plan includes unlimited talk, text and data in the U.S., Mexico and Canada along with 7GB Smartphone Mobile HotSpot data. However, some of the subscribers that violate T-Mobile’s rules are using as much as 2TB (2,000GB) of data per month by masking their activities.
“We’ve built the T-Mobile network to reach 290 million Americans with the fastest 4G LTE speeds around. We drive hard every day for our network to reach more people and to keep giving customers the fastest data speeds in the USA,” said Legere in his letter. “I won’t let anyone jeopardize that. So we are going after a small group of users who are stealing data so blatantly and extremely that it is ridiculous.”
T-Mobile said that it will penalize the subscribers that violate the tethering rules by sending multiple warnings. If they continue to violate the data tethering policy, then they will lose access to the Unlimited 4G LTE smartphone data plan and will be moved to an entry-level limited 4G LTE data plan. T-Mobile developed tools that can detect the subscribers who consume more than the 7GB of the Smartphone Mobile HotSpot feature.
In the FAQ section about the issue, there is a question about why tethering usage is not considered unlimited on the unlimited rate plan. T-Mobile said that after the 7GB of high-speed Mobile HotSpot data is consumed, there is unlimited reduced-speed Smartphone Mobile HotSpot data offered. And that broadband services may be a better solution for subscribers that want more high-speed for their tethered devices. In the FAQ, T-Mobile also pointed out that other carriers like AT&T, Verizon and Sprint have data limits and charged their customers $1.5 billion in overages last year.
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