T-Mobile UK Decides Mobile Broadband Shouldn't Actually Be Used For Mobile Broadband

from the save-that-for-home dept

If you have T-Mobile in the UK you may be disappointed to know that the company has suddenly decided that you should be perfectly happy to use little more than just 500 MB per month — a paltry amount. It’s not quite a cap at 500 MB — you’ll still be able to do some basic surfing, but apparently, once you’ve used up your 500 MB, you’ll no longer be able to do anything beyond browsing static websites or checking email. No streaming, downloading, gaming, etc. Many users previously had caps that were around 3GB, so this is a pretty big drop. Apparently, T-Mobile has decided it gets to tell you what you can and cannot use the account for:

“Browsing means looking at websites and checking email, but not watching videos, downloading files or playing games. 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.”

Basically, this is T-Mobile UK announcing to the world that it doesn’t have the bandwidth to actually give people what they want, and it hasn’t invested in the necessary upgrades to offer a reasonable service. Or, a simpler way of explaining it, is that this is T-Mobile UK telling users in the UK who actually want to use mobile broadband to find another provider.

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Companies: t-mobile

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Comments on “T-Mobile UK Decides Mobile Broadband Shouldn't Actually Be Used For Mobile Broadband”

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Simon says:

one step backward

Way to go…

Utilise technology to take a step backward, no wonder the UK is falling behind its counterparts; large companies making strategic steps backwards rather than investment. Makes you feel a little like a student being restricted; than a customer paying for a service. Also, when a service degrades, people tend to leave the backward thinking companies at the first opportunity!

Shiroboshi says:

Same problem with all UK mobile providers

Orange went the same route a little while back, and since they are married to TMobile, it comes as no real surprise. O2 forced all upgrading customers onto similar limits a while back when the iPhone 4 came out.

UK (and other european networks) have been jumping on the mobile internet bandwagon, without actually upgrading network capacity, charging customers a premium in the process…. Unfortunately, those pesky customers actually want to use what they were promised, which is now beginning to congest the network infrastructure which has been neglected for so long. It’s been coming for a while, unfortunately.

There appears to be a consensus, though, that customers are able to cancel their contract, since the change was notified too late (i.e. not 30 days in advance)and only by SMS, and not in writing, although this probably needs to be tested…

Mr Claypole (profile) says:


They insist changes to the acceptable usage policy are not significant enough to be considered breach of contract. Whether or not a court would agree is another matter.

In these situations, you need to have a detailed history of your usage over the past few months; if you regularly use over 500MB then you can argue that in your case, the changes will affect you ‘significantly’ and you should be able to get out of the contract. Of course, one suspects such historical data is most likely not available to download 🙂

Regardless, it simply highlights so many reasons why you should never sign up to a 2 year contract with any mobile operator, as any of them can turn on you at a moments notice. They advertise high usage quotas, get you to sign up with them for 2 years, then pull the quotas, claiming most people don’t go anywhere near them. Which IMO is beside the point – the high quota was used as a competitive advantage and would sway many people to sign up, even if the rest of the deal wasn’t quite as good as the competition. Really should be investigated by the powers that be, but of course, won’t be.

Anyway, just more reason to stick to PAYG or 30 day ‘sim only’ contracts, which these days are pretty decent and give you the power to switch providers without too much hassle.

ethorad (profile) says:


Why should it matter whether you’ve regularly used >500MB/month?

It seems they are making a change to the contract under their “reasonable notice” clause so that you can’t break the contract without penalties. The way they can walk away or change the original deal by giving a short period of notice but the subscriber can’t seems to suggest that the original contract is rather one sided. Isn’t there some legal argument about such contracts being non-enforceable?

Of course I’m not a lawyer, and chances are hiring one to kick up a fuss with T-Mobile would cost more than paying the penalty fees …

Wish they’d done this a month earlier – I just switched to T-Mobile! Fortunately I’m on PAYG so all I’ll lose is the ?20 I paid for 6 months data access when I switch to someone else.

bugmenot (profile) says:

Hate to tell you this, but...

Sorry kiddies, the days of all you can eat Internet are coming to an end. 98% of mobile users are consuming 200mb or less a month and that is static across all the carriers. They know this. The other 2% are tech nerds or people who want to stream movies or music and they are using services that the carriers want to provide and monetize for themselves. The studios are also pushing them to clamp down on large volume data usage as another way to close down torrent freaks and downloaders.

So what if you break the contract and go somewhere else? Think it’s going to be any different? Not for very long. Eventually, ALL carriers will be like this.
If you go the sim route, you will still end up paying for what you use. No one is going to sell you a sim with 50gb of data transfer in a month. No one.

It will happen, get used to it or stop using the Internet. Go outside. Take walks. Unplug. Sing to yourself and play scrabble.

inc says:

The fact is these providers have been pushing smart-phones and laptop data cards for consumers to buy. Then they turn around and drop the amount of data they can use with these devices, though, that is what makes them attractive in the first place. It is easy to see that users will want to treat these devices like their broadband Internet access at home or work. Especially since these connections aren’t cheap.

So now that people are using them for streaming more and more, which I do see a lot in advertising for these devices, they want cut them off.


PaulT (profile) says:

Hate to tell you this, but...

Yep, troll is obvious, but I might as well address a couple of points:

“98% of mobile users are consuming 200mb or less a month”

So? If I’m paying for a service that offers more than that and I use the capacity then what’s the problem? I can guarantee that I use a lot less text messages and voice minutes than “hardcore” phone users, does that mean I get a discount, or that those users are forced down to my levels?

“They know this. The other 2% are tech nerds or people who want to stream movies or music and they are using services that the carriers want to provide and monetize for themselves”

Please indicate how using a perfectly legal streaming service is wrong in any way.

“The studios are also pushing them to clamp down on large volume data usage as another way to close down torrent freaks and downloaders.”

RTFA, dumbass. The limits relate to mobile phone contracts. Torrent users don’t tend to use iPhones to download their torrents. Legal users *do* use their iPhones to access legally paid for apps, music and movies, and to stream perfectly legal content while on the go. Guess who’ll lose out here? As usual, not the “pirates”.

“No one is going to sell you a sim with 50gb of data transfer in a month.”

…and what does that have to do with an article descrivbing the lowering of the transfer limit from 3Gb?

“Go outside. Take walks. Unplug. Sing to yourself and play scrabble.”

Erm, apart from singing to myself, that’s exactly what I’m doing when trying to use mobile services.

DAN says:



I have just called T-Mobile and asked them when the limit was going to be applied. They told me it is already in effect and that they notified me by text message !! A sodding text message.. !!!

I asked them why they have not informed me of a change in contract in writing. But just got the same reply. You received a text.

The clincher on my deal was that it had an unlimited data plan. If i knew they were going to do this I could have got a better deal else where

Killer_Tofu (profile) says:

Termination Fees

Just another reason I despise the idea of early termination fees or 1 year leases or anything along those lines.
I feel that if the service is not what i am expecting, I should be able to leave penalty free. Early termination fees and long leases make me feel like they know their services stink and they just want to rope you in with what sounds good into a long contract that is never in your benefit.

chris (profile) says:

In writing?

I’m Australian, so I am not there to check… but I am also not sure a text message is notification “in writing” unless it says so in the original contract… so if it was me, I would break the contract by informing them in writing (by mail) and then just not using the phone and not paying the bill. I think this would meet the requirements… but I’d read my contract and ask the telecommunications ombudsman FIRST just to be sure. And I would phone them just prior to sending the letter, if I was sure… just to give them a chance to respond. And I’d be polite the whole time. English law is pretty fair, and telecommunications companies are pretty stupid, so all in all, it’s likely to fall the way of the customer.

Rose M. Welch (profile) says:

Re: This story is a non-starter

So… If your car insurance company refused to cover you in an accident, and cited more accidents than expected that month as a reason not to pay out – even though you’ve paid your bill every month – that’s okay with you?

And if your water company shut off your water after you took a shower, leaving the rest of your family stranded, would that be okay?

PaulT (profile) says:

This story is a non-starter

So, what does that have to do with the customer?

If T-Mobile offer “unlimited” or “3Gb/month”, it’s their job to make damn well sure they can offer that service to subscribers *before* they let them subscribe. Customers have every right to complain if this is arbitrarily lowered because the company couldn’t do their job properly, doubly so if they knew about such limitations before offering the service. TD and others also have every right to criticise such short-sightedness.

The sad thing is how this will stunt further growth of legal streaming services at a time when such services are starting to gain ground in a country that is often denied legal services enjoyed by North America…

Idobek (profile) says:


I’m on a 30 day contract with them so I’ll be gone as soon as I figure out how to get my number transferred.

Phone them up and tell them to give you your PAC code. They’ll put you through to sales – who will try to convince you to stay – but they have to give you the code. I suggest making it clear why you’re moving; they won’t be able to do anything about it, but I believe we should educate these idiots.

Jake says:

It’s not like T-Mobile’s plan was that impressive to start with; their idea of fair use for their ‘unlimited’ plan before this was 1GB a month, after which point you were cut off completely until the next month, so in some ways it’s actually a slight improvement.
Still, announcing this soon after relative newcomers Three (who offer up to 7GB a month, incidentally) have just started offering unlimited free Skype-to-Skype calls with all new smartphone contracts was not the best idea they ever had.

Anonymous Coward says:

This story is a non-starter

Chrono, you’re wrong. I’m just an informed customer.

It’s the reason why I don’t use Sprint in the US. Think of it this way- if you’re a company that has to coordinate technology rollouts (which is Mike’s point in the last paragraph of this article) with external marketing and branding firms, it seems like a boatload of extra work.

I don’t want to name names, but it’s the same company Mike uses.

hmm says:

wanna know the real mobile scam?

Sorry for the double post there…..weird…but anyway.

TEXT messages…

There is a small “keep alive” carrier signal between your mobile and the nearest mast that locks you onto the network. It used to be that this data was just random gibberish.
Someone then cottoned on that you could modify the gibberish into sendable messages…..

Basically every text, the data HAS to be sent anyway…so the provider is getting a free ride on something they have to keep running the whole time your phone is switched on.

Neat eh?
zero cost to provider…lotsa cost to the customer!

Mr Claypole (profile) says:

Surprise surprise

T-mobile have now backtracked on this, and will now only limit new and upgrading customers, so people who signed up for 3gig plans will keep it for the duration of their contract.


Nice to see customer backlash have some impact on these things. However the arrogance of t-mobile throughout has been an eye-opener. One (more) company to avoid – the list grows ever longer.

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