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T-Mobile Agrees To Tell Users Whether They Are Throttled to 64 or 128 Kbps

Under pressure from the Federal Communications Commission, T-Mobile USA has agreed to disclose its actual throttled data speeds to customers. 

There are several parts to the agreement: 

  • T-Mobile will modify the texts it sends to users when they are throttled. The texts will state the actual throttled speed, which is either 64 Kbps or 128 Kbps, depending on plan. They will also include a link to a speed test site or app that will give accurate results when throttling is in effect. This is necessary because T-Mobile exempts most speed test apps and sites from throttling, probably so that they can advertise having the fastest network based on aggregated speed test results. 
  • New T-Mobile smartphones will come with a preinstalled app or link to a speed test that will give accurate results when the user is throttled.
  • T-Mobile will disclose its actual throttled speeds in plan descriptions on its Website. Currently throttled speeds are described as "2G" with no mention of the actual speed. The Website will also disclose that T-Mobile doesn't throttle most speed tests and tell users where they can get accurate throttled speed test results.
T-Mobile has 60 days from 11/24/14,the date of the agreement, or until 1/23/15 to make these changes.

I think it's interesting that T-Mobile has two different throttled speeds. I suspect that it's mainly prepaid plans that get the lower 64 Kbps throttle.

I'm hoping that the FCC to start requiring all mobile operators, including MVNOs, to disclose if and when data speeds are throttled and what the actual throttled speeds are. There's a real lack of transparency when it comes to throttling. Vague statements like "reduced to 2G speeds after 500MB" make it impossible for customers to accurately compare competing plans when 2G means 64 Kbps with one operator and 128 Kbps with another. Even worse are the operators, that throttle "high speed" data to say 1 Mbps right from the first byte as many AT&T MVNOs do on pay as you go plans. Everyone knows that actual speeds vary but if the network is imposing an artificial speed limit on certain plans I believe that's something that should be disclosed in advertising and plan descriptions.

Source: FCC

29 comments:

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  1. 64 Kbps is another word for NO data at all, since it totally useless.

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  2. PureTalk is throttling less than AirVoice on PayGo. Using an iPhone 4S I recorded 3.5 Mbps on PureTalk Simple plan. AirVoice throttled my iPhone 5C and HTC One to 1 Mbps or less on Pay-as-you-go, while they allowed 5 Mbps on an iPhone 5 with the $30/month plan. These tests were taken in the same spot with 4 bars of signal.

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  3. iQMS allows all the carriers to give priority to speedtests if they want. This presents a rosy picture of network performance and is only loosely related to speeds experienced during normal usage. Use an app that constantly displays your network speeds in the status bar to get the real picture.

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  4. Which MVNOs throttle their pay as you go plans from the first byte?

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    Replies
    1. Airvoice, H2O and Jolt limit speeds to less than 1 Mbps on their pay as you go plans. I'm sure their are others.

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    2. Do T-Mobile MVNOs throttle their pay as you go plans?

      Are there any AT&T MVNOs that don't throttle their pay as you go plans?

      Thanks.

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    3. PTel is the only T-Mobile NVNO with pay as you go data and they don't throttle.

      On the AT&T side I believe that all the traditional pay as you go plans are throttled to 1 Mbps. PureTalk doesn't throttle but their paygo data is a monthly add-on with no rollover rather than pay per MB with rollover.

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    4. When did AT&T MVNOs start throttling paygo data?

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    5. I don't now but people first started noticing it about a year ago.

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    6. Is PTel the only operator on any network that doesn't throttle data on paygo plans?
      And also the only one that offers LTE on a paygo plan?

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    7. Any idea anyone?

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    8. There aren't many PayGo plans with data anymore. As far as I know PTel's is the only one with LTE. As for throttling, I believe that:
      PTel, PagePlus - not throttled
      Airvoice, H2O - throttled to 1 Mbps
      Jolt, RedPocket, Good2Go - don't know but probably throttled as it seems to be something AT&T imposses on MVNO paygo
      EcoMobile, TracFone BYOP - don't know but probably not throttled

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    9. EcoMobile is not throttled, but Sprint 3G is so slow it does not matter. We switched from AirVoice paygo to PureTalk and the speed is 4 times faster (Simple 80 plan plus 400mb data for $15/month). For my use it was a good move, and the CS is very good with PureTalk.

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    10. US Mobile has fast data and their buckets are pretty reasonable for data. Good alternative to ptel for some and they unlock phones free.

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    11. Thanks everyone!

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  5. What speed test app do Dennis and others recommend the most?

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    Replies
    1. I use Onavo. I can't say I recommend it but it works and it's the most popular.

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  6. Can anybody tell me why I had tmobile LTE for one day in my area that was /is covered by edge for the last 5 years, I was using my slow edge data and all of a sudden I had LTE, and it was fast, the next day it was back to edge, this was a week ago Monday. This area was never a fringe area, always on edge data for miles radius from my house, with full tmobile signal , i tried asking tmobile and just gave me the generic answers, thanks?

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    Replies
    1. T-Mobile is still building out their LTE network. They are probably in the process of deploying LTE in your area and turned it on temporarily for testing. That likely means you will have full-time LTE within a few weeks.

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  7. Thanks Dennis, I tried suggesting basically what you said, I got the I got it could have been a storm to I was data roaming on Verizon! Tmobile CS God bless email but wow! Thanks, I hope full time let comes soon.

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    1. Hey Zach T-mo is quietly building out Band 12 spectrum they bought from Verizon. I suspect the release will either be next month but most likely early January in initial markets. You probably might be effected because of this in a positive way. I'm in Houston and service had decreased which I know we will be 1st on the list makes me think Band 12 is being distributed and tested now ready for prime time release. Also, if you have questions about something follow T-mo on twitter and tweet them they are good at getting back at you and answer questions fast.

      Yeswap have you heard anything about NON Tracfone At&t Mvnos getting LTE such as H20 and Airvoice? If not what you thinking around Jan/Feb 2015?

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    2. I haven't heard anything about more non-TracFone MVNOs getting LTE. But two, Red Pocket and Consumer Cellular already have it so I'm sure it's just a matter on time.

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    3. Thanks for the info, LTE is back on today and according to my phone it's band 13, not 12.not sure the difference. But whatever it is, it's fast!

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    4. That's interesting, band 13 is only used by Verizon and some regional CDMA networks that are leasing spectrum from Verizon

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  8. What is ST throttle speed (post 3GB) for ATT network ?

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  9. A long time ago, I had T-Mo as the provider to my USB modem.
    When I was being throttled, the speed was so pathetic that I
    was unable to do anything, not even check email. Finally, the
    FCC has forced T-Mo to come clean on its deceptive practice.

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  10. I currently have a mobile hotspot service with T-mobile on a month to month basis. I am paying $70 a month for 9 GB of 4G LTE and unlimited data at 128 kbps. I have independently verify the 128 kbps speed because I use VZ Access Manager (that I kept from my 4G LTE days with Verizon) to keep track of my data usage and the speeds on T-mobile is generally 128 kbps.

    After 7 pm on weekdays and on Sat / Sun, I have no problem surfing the web or download large video files from youtube, etc -- it just takes l-o-n-g-e-r, but it still downloads the files.

    Btw, I am using the 128 kbps speed as I type this comment because I went over my monthly data allotment. It took maybe 2 to 3 minutes to load the website, but it runs fine.

    My other comment is that I am a data consumer and data speed is nice to have, but data speed is subordinate to data usage. I would prefer a 20 GB data package at 2G over 5 GB at 4G LTE for the same price.

    If T-mobile offered unlimited data at 128 kbps each month, then I am willing to pay $10 a month. If the speed was 256 kbps, then I will pay $15. At 384 kbps, then I will pay $20. But at 512 kbps, then I will pay $30 since it will allow me to enjoy different types of content on the internet. I like having a mobile broadband that I can take with me anywhere (T mobile coverage isn't the greatest, but the 9GB at LTE for $70 a month with unlimited data at 128k kbps is a good price for me).

    In case anyone is curious, I generally use 1.5 to 3 GB of data at 128kbps each month. So it's works out for me. And as everyone knows, the prepaid mobile broadband market just plain sucks in comparison to prepaid voice / text / data plans for a smartphone.

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  11. The price of used Clear Spot modems has shot up on eBay. I just sold a two-year old Photon WiMax modem for over $90. Some are going for $127-$142. Clear will still sign you up for unlimited data/month for $40 or $55. $40 is throttled to about 1.75mbps. FreedomPop's version of this modem is only going for $20-$35.

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