Wireless

by Karl Bode


Filed Under:
john legere, streaming, tethering, unlimited

Companies:
t-mobile



T-Mobile CEO Vows To Hunt Down 'Thieves' And 'Clever Hackers' That 'Abuse' Company's Unlimited Data Plans

from the unlimited-is-limited dept

For more than a decade now wireless carriers have struggled with this rather simple definition:
unlimited, adjective

1. not limited; unrestricted; unconfined: unlimited trade.

2. boundless; infinite; vast: the unlimited skies.

3. without any qualification or exception; unconditional.
While carriers have long insisted they offer "unlimited" data, they go to great lengths to avoid offering said advertised product when the gluttonous masses inevitably come calling to partake in the all-you-can-eat buffet. Countless companies have had their wrists slapped for the failure to disclose that their "unlimited" plans are in fact quite limited. Verizon settled a lawsuit from NY's AG back in 2007 for advertising capped and throttled services as unlimited. When Verizon and AT&T later ditched all unlimited plans, they both still waged a quiet war on unlimited users, again throttling or otherwise restricting their data consumption.

In recent years T-Mobile has taken advantage of this shift and marketed itself as one of the last companies that truly embraces unlimited data. Well, sort of. If you sign up for an unlimited T-Mobile smartphone plan, T-Mobile's website will quietly inform you that by "unlimited" T-Mobile actually means 21 GB, after which (provided you're on a congested tower), you'll have your speeds "de-prioritized" for the remainder of your billing cycle. Customers that sign up for unlimited data are also greeted with this notice, usually down below the advertisement:
So under T-Mobile's "unlimited" plans, unlimited smartphone use may actually be somewhere around 21 GB, while data consumed when tethering the phone as a modem or hotspot is throttled after 7 GB of consumption. Now to be fair, those allotments are pretty generous. And as carriers are quick to argue, the fact that you can still use data beyond those limits (albeit at reduced speeds) still technically means the connection is "unlimited." But the industry's still playing it a little loose with what is a clearly-defined term (I've underlined the key synonyms above if any confused carriers are reading).

For a while now, T-Mobile customers that install third-party ROMs have been able to skirt the 7GB tethering throttling limit. This has, apparently, greatly annoyed T-mobile CEO John Legere, who has taken to the company's blog to declare he's now hunting down data "thieves" for the benefit of all mankind:
"...These violators are going out of their way with all kinds of workarounds to steal more LTE tethered data. They’re downloading apps that hide their tether usage, rooting their phones, writing code to mask their activity, etc. They are “hacking” the system to swipe high speed tethered data. These aren't naive amateurs; they are clever hackers who are willfully stealing for their own selfish gain."
According to Legere these "clever hackers" only comprise around 1/100 of a percent of the company's 59 million customers, and a few of them have been eating as much as two terabytes a month of data. So why is T-Mobile making so much noise about a small number of customers it could easily shove to metered plans privately? T-Mobile's trying to get out ahead of media criticism for imposing limits on "unlimited" data, and to avoid the FCC's net neutrality and transparency rules by clearly stating intent (even if the T-Mobile FAQ on the issue doesn't really offer technical specifics).

It should be noted that every ISP on the planet has to deal with a small subset of extremely heavy users. This is nothing new, and if T-Mobile had said nothing, people probably wouldn't have given a damn. But after insulting his userbase, Legere proceeds with false bravado to pretend that the perfectly ordinary practice of protecting the network from gluttons somehow makes T-Mobile an industry leader:
These abusers will probably try to distract everyone by waving their arms about throttling data. Make no mistake about it – this is not the same issue. Don’t be duped by their sideshow. We are going after every thief, and I am starting with the 3,000 users who know exactly what they are doing...I won't let a few thieves ruin things for anyone else. We’re going to lead from the front on this, just like we always do. Count on it!
Good job I guess? To be clear: outside of its wishy-washy net neutrality stance I like T-Mobile, and think the company has done some great things to nudge the industry forward (like killing subsidies and reducing overseas roaming costs). I also think these allotments are more than fair for the price being paid, and T-Mobile has every right to police its network, since two terabytes of mobile consumption is gluttonous by any standard. That said, acting like it's the pinnacle of "clever hacking" and villainy to modify a device you own to get a service advertised as unlimited is a tad specious and theatrical. And Legere's decision to subsequently bicker with users on Twitter for the rest of the day wasn't the "uncarrier's" finest PR hour:
Snark, fanboys and fisticuffs aside, the core of the problem continues to be the use of the word unlimited to sell products that simply aren't. Since the first time the term was marketed it has confused the hell out of users who don't understand that in the age of finite spectrum, intelligent network management and hungry bean counters, there really is no such thing. If you're not willing to offer truly unlimited data (and frankly no spectrum-constrained wireless carrier truly is), stop advertising unlimited data, put your next-best offer clearly on the table, and stop molesting the god-damned dictionary.

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  • icon
    Ninja (profile), 1 Sep 2015 @ 4:31am

    ...and stop molesting the god-damned dictionary.

    *looks at NSA, DOJ, CIA, Govt in general*

    I think T-Mobile is actually being very nice and gentle to the dictionary.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 1 Sep 2015 @ 6:00am

    >T-Mobile customers that install third-party ROMs
    Or those who buy an non-carrier branded phone.

    Is it really that difficult to track how much data is associated with a particular SIM? The OS should be irrelevant.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      ltlw0lf (profile), 1 Sep 2015 @ 7:17am

      Re:

      Is it really that difficult to track how much data is associated with a particular SIM? The OS should be irrelevant.

      It shouldn't be. I am not sure what type of app they are using to hide their traffic usage, but it seems like the SIM is pretty unique and not easy to change, so if you are talking to the cell tower and they are recording your SIM Card Number, it should be pretty easy for them to determine how much you are using.

      I am more than a little concerned about this. I don't tether my phone...I have a separate data device for connecting to my computer (which I am usually far under the maximum allotted bandwidth each month for,) but I have a non-carrier branded, rooted, and open-source ROM'd phone, partly because I don't like the nanny-monitoring software nor the "you bought your phone but we won't allow you to actually use it the way you want," aspect of this release. According to my phone, I use about 2-4 GB a month, so I am not one of those 2TB a month users, but I am very concerned when they start lumping non-official ROMs and unbranded phones into the "bad-guy" list.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 1 Sep 2015 @ 9:14am

        Re: Re:

        I am not sure what type of app they are using to hide their traffic usage, but it seems like the SIM is pretty unique and not easy to change
        I think what they're getting at is that all the data does come via the phone, from one SIM. The app would just be some kind of proxy. Routing a wifi or USB network onto the cellular network is probably just a few iptables rules.

        Remeber the Ubuntu Edge, which would have let users plug in a keyboard and monitor to use the phone as a full PC? It was a cool idea but phone plans seem predicated on the idea that you can't do anything very useful (i.e. data-hungry) on your phone.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 1 Sep 2015 @ 9:48am

        Re: Re:

        They know how much data is used by the phone, but because it does not run their monitoring that cannot distinguish whether it is a phone app or a tethered machine demanding the data. They are making the distinction purely on whether a phone app or a tethered machine is demanding the data, as if the data was somehow different, perhaps because without their stock install they cannot spy on the user, and keep track of what applications they are using.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      Yakko Warner (profile), 1 Sep 2015 @ 8:33am

      Re:

      Considering they dropped support for my phone 4 months after I bought it (it still works, but it was excluded from receiving any further OS or firmware updates), and they just did the same to another one two months after they started selling it, I have no intention of buying another T-Mobile-branded phone.

      If they want to keep me as a customer, they'd better not consider me a "bad guy" for buying a phone without their brand, locks, and lack of support.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      David, 1 Sep 2015 @ 9:33am

      Re:

      Ah, but you see: they want to offer an unlimited plan. It would be limited if they stopped after a certain amount.

      So instead it is the phone that throttles the connection after a certain amount, not the carrier.

      The carrier provides an unlimited connection. Using that unlimited connection with an unlimiting phone is abuse. Because the connection is unlimited, not the usage.

      If this does not make perfect sense to you, you probably need to go back to marketing school. Or get a lobotomy, but I seem to remember that the latter is a prerequisite for the former.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • icon
        ltlw0lf (profile), 1 Sep 2015 @ 12:07pm

        Re: Re:

        So instead it is the phone that throttles the connection after a certain amount, not the carrier.

        Except that this isn't even close to true. The one time my phone did go above 5GB (on the 5GB plan,) the phone dropped to 2G (40 kb/s) even though I was using a rooted phone running an open-source version of Android.

        The phone did not throttle the connection, T-Mobile did.

        Try again?

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      Cerberus (profile), 1 Sep 2015 @ 9:47am

      Re:

      No, measuring total data usage is easy. The problem is not that those users use too many data, but that they use them for things that T-Mobile doesn't like. If they used 2 TB of data only on their phones, then theoretically T-Mobile would be fine with that; but instead they use their phone and its SIM as a modem for their computer, so their computers access the Internet exclusively through their phone's plan. The result is that they use 2 TB, which would be almost impossible to do on a mobile device with normal usage (but quite possible on a normal desktop computer).

      T-Mobile cannot see which devices the data end up being used on, since all data go through the phone first, and T-Mobile can't see beyond that point.

      With Internet neutrality, that shouldn't be a problem, because data are data, and it shouldn't matter what you use them for. However, T-Mobile has taken the risk of basing its prices not on cost but on what is marketable: unlimited data sounds nice. If you pay a fixed price for unlimited data, at some point your usage might be so high that it costs T-Mobile more than the fixed price you pay. T-Mobile gambled on this never happening, because in practice it is nearly impossible to use so much on a phone. I believe 1 GB costs tens of cents, so you'd have to use maybe 200 GB to cost T-Mobile more than the $80 you pay them for unlimited. However, if you tether your computer to your phone, that can happen.

      What T-Mobile should have done is offer limited data at $80, but set a high, attractive cap, let's say 100 GB. Then offer 1 TB for $800, 10 TB for $800. Or just stop using those stupid caps and simply charge the cost price plus a nice profit per GB, so e.g. 50 cents per GB, no matter how much you use. If you use more, you pay more.

      One other thing to consider is that the cost of data usage is highly variable; one GB is much more expensive than another. When the network is not congested, the cost per GB for T-Mobile is low. What costs them the most is keeping the throughput at an acceptable level, the capacity of data per second. Building new towers, new cables, new interconexions, and maintaining it all, that sort of thing.

      So it would make the most sense to charge a fee per GB dependent on how congested the tower is that you're using at the moment; if you use data at night or at places where there is plenty of capacity, your usage won't cost them much extra over what they have to pay anyway to maintain the system. But that would make your bills very complicated. So perhaps you should be paying a fixed monthly amount for maintaining the system plus a small amount per GB used.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 1 Sep 2015 @ 2:01pm

        Re: Re:

        One flaw with tour reasoning, data usage does not have a direct relationship to congestion, while time of day usually does. At the extreme, if everybody wakes up at the same time, and proceeds to check email, traffic, weather and news, before setting off to work, then you can have a congestion problem, and one which caps do nothing to alleviate because each persons data use for this is quite small, and not something that a cap will alter.
        What caps can do is convince people to keep their cable subscription, because the cap limits their ability to switch all their viewing to online sources, and that is something that many ISPs have an interest in achieving.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • icon
          Cerberus (profile), 1 Sep 2015 @ 5:26pm

          Re: Re: Re:

          Well, that is exactly what I was saying. There is no direction relation between data caps and congestion, and data caps are by no means proportional to the carrier's costs. To quote myself: "just stop using those stupid caps".

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 2 Sep 2015 @ 4:32pm

        Re: Re:

        The problem is not that those users use too many data, but that they use them for things that T-Mobile doesn't like.


        It isn't that T-Mobile doesn't like it. It's that the contract to which the parties agreed said Unlimited Data on your mobile device and a certain amount for your tethered devices. I know this quite well, having recently updated my account with them. It's quite explicit in this.

        T-Mobile cannot see which devices the data end up being used on, since all data go through the phone first, and T-Mobile can't see beyond that point.

        Actually, you can. There are headers in the data stream which can indicate the device type, OS, browser, and so forth. The apps and "hacks" in question explicitly modify that header information in order to obfuscate that it's actually a desktop (or laptop, but essentially non-mobile) form of data request.

        The key is that these customers have agreed to use the data one way, unlimited on the mobile devices and with certain reasonable limits on tethering, yet don't do so. Not only don't they do so, but they are using apps which attempt to circumvent the carrier's reasonable attempts to discern which type of data it happens to be. Mobile data is not, or should not be, a substitute for a landline based Internet service at home. That many choose to use it in this way in direct contravention of the terms of use to which they agreed isn't T-Mobile's fault.

        I will concede that the language the CEO used to describe the behavior is hyperbolic, at best. That's how he is, though, so I don't see it as all that big an issue when you get down to it.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • icon
          Cerberus (profile), 2 Sep 2015 @ 5:44pm

          Re: Re: Re:

          At your first point: that may be true, but then it is in direct contravention of Internet neutrality. If you buy electric power from me, you should be allowed to use it for whichever device you prefer, since the cost of power is the same to me, the power plant, regardless of which device you use it on. I am not allowed to force you to use the power I supply for one purpose or another: only the total quantity used (or perhaps the time and place) matters.

          At your second point, it is the carrier's problem that it is trying to effect price differentiation. Just as with geo blocks. If the cost of 2TB of mobile data is too high for the carrier, which it very well may be, then they should limit the total data used, not try some trick and tell people how to use their data.

          For privacy, anyone might use a VPN on his phone. Then a carrier has no idea what the user agent is, whether you tether through the phone or load the web page directly on your phone.

          What it comes down to is that big companies attempting price differentiation and exposing themselves to risks that way (overuse) should stop complaining and offer prices that are based on true cost, not marketing silliness. And they should try to patch up their mistakes by violating Internet neutrality.

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    David, 1 Sep 2015 @ 6:06am

    Where is he going to end?

    and I am starting with the 3,000 users who know exactly what they are doing

    That sounds rather ominous.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    David, 1 Sep 2015 @ 6:10am

    Mother Goose knew.

    The fairy tales are full of endless spools of flax, groundless pitchers, self-filling purses and other devices all sharing a common trait: try exhausting them, and you will.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 1 Sep 2015 @ 6:12am

    Between headline and last paragraph, you agree with T-mobile and like the company too.

    You could have skipped rest of text. Your intent seems to be stirring up outrage, but if anyone (else) actually reads all, they'll be puzzled.

    I guess it's just the word "unlimited' that drives you bonkers. Seems characteristic of TD writers. Masnick had same problem with MTA "unlimited" ticket actually meaning only 90 rides:
    https://www.techdirt.com/articles/20100713/15411510198.shtml

    I think it's because you've become geezers without noticing. "In my day, unlimited meant UNLIMITED! And we liked it!" You certainly repeat the theme often. I suppose next you'll start on "all you can eat buffets" doesn't mean you can set up a cot by it and go back "unlimited" times, so it's actually false advertising. And you're going to set up a cot by one and PROVE it!

    Sheesh. Nowadays, the real cranks, instead of writing a letter to local newspaper which promptly goes into the circular file, have a web-site and rant endlessly about things that don't matter. You could have used that time warning us again that the Russians are "filling the internet with toxic disinformation"!


    Slow page load? Not seeing comments the fanboys censored?

    Get the full text and none of the ads with the new Techdirt Lite!
    https://www.techdirt.com/?_format=lite

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 1 Sep 2015 @ 6:30am

      Re: Between headline and last paragraph, you agree with T-mobile and like the company too.

      Sheesh. Nowadays, the real cranks, instead of writing a letter to local newspaper which promptly goes into the circular file, have a web-site and rant endlessly about things that don't matter. You could have used that time warning us again that the Russians are "filling the internet with toxic disinformation"!

      You described yourself to a T! Congratulations!

      PS: I read the article and I wasn't puzzled. Take your nannying somewhere else, lady.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 1 Sep 2015 @ 6:36am

      Re: Between headline and last paragraph, you agree with T-mobile and like the company too.

      Seek help.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 1 Sep 2015 @ 8:19am

      Re: Between headline and last paragraph, you agree with T-mobile and like the company too.

      And how much "unlimited" data do you use spamming TechDirt everyday comrade?

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Violynne (profile), 1 Sep 2015 @ 6:47am

    That said, acting like it's the pinnacle of "clever hacking" and villainy to modify a device you own to get a service advertised as unlimited is a tad specious and theatrical.
    UNLIMITED DATA DOES NOT MEAN UNLIMITED SPEED!

    What you claim is a defense by the carries is actually a valid response.

    T-Mobile, by the way, makes it very clear you can have all the data you want, but if your 4G/LTE speed is used to grab the plentiful allocation, you will be slowed down but you will still have access to the data.

    There's nothing nefarious about this. It's clear. Customers understand it. Customers accept it.

    As far as I'm concerned, I see no problem with T-Mobile going after these users, because chances are, they're the bots we all hate sending out spam texts everyone gets.

    If a few "customers" come along and take more than they're alloted, it ruins it for the rest of us.

    Because, unlike broadband, LTE does have a limited throughput and I don't know about you, but I sure as hell don't want a spinning icon as my phone is trying to send and receive data because "customers", by your definition, can work around and tether all the LTE speed for themselves.

    This article boasts a ridiculous attitude, and the opening definition of "unlimited" was a kick below the belt not only in its tone, but based on the perception "speed = data".

    Guess who's going to get the negative feedback based on the article? Psst: it's not T-Mobile.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      Karl Bode (profile), 1 Sep 2015 @ 7:04am

      Re:

      "It's clear."

      Your data is unlimited except when you are on a congested tower and consume more than 21 gigabytes of cellular data per month at which point you'll be de-prioritized and oh did we also mention that if you use the device as a modem an entirely different set of rules apply at which point you are limited to 7 gigabytes of data before being deprioritzed unless you install a custom ROM at which point ignore this last bit.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      Karl Bode (profile), 1 Sep 2015 @ 7:07am

      Re:

      "As far as I'm concerned, I see no problem with T-Mobile going after these users, because chances are, they're the bots we all hate sending out spam texts everyone gets."

      I have no problem with T-Mobile going after them either, as I think the article makes clear.

      My problem is in marketing a limited product as unlimited (speed versus data consumption is irrelevant) and in Legere's specific approach in announcing what otherwise wouldn't have been that big of a deal.

      The false bravado that they're being an industry leader by cracking down on heavy users is frankly just kind of stupid. Every ISP in existence is playing this cat and mouse game daily without a blog post patting themselves on the back for it.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 1 Sep 2015 @ 7:12am

        Re: Re:

        Nice one. You're smarter than Violynne

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • icon
        Violynne (profile), 1 Sep 2015 @ 8:55am

        Re: Re:

        speed versus data consumption is irrelevant
        Your entire article is based on this misinformation you're trying to pass to your readers, but I'm not going to fall for your inept understanding of data.

        Since you seem to only think points are made by definitions, here's one for "Data":

        1. a plural of datum.

        2. (used with a plural verb) individual facts, statistics, or items of information.

        3. (used with a singular verb) a body of facts; information.

        Note the exclusion of anything related to speed, distance, time, warp drives, or anything else you'll read into the actual defined word of "data".

        T-Mobile makes two things clear:
        -Unlimited data is unlimited data.
        -You get 4G/LTE speeds up to [allotment] but will be slowed if the allotment FOR THAT SPEED is crossed.

        Your argument will ONLY be valid if:
        -There's an additional cost to access the data once allotment is exceeded

        -The device stops working completely if the allotment is exceeded

        -If the ad specified "Unlimited Access" or "Unlimited Speed" as opposed to "Unlimited Data"

        T-Mobile does no such things, as far as I'm aware.

        If you want to sit and try to convince your readers the majority of people reading the article are stupid to conflate speed with data, that's your call.

        But don't call out a company whose 100% straight forward with its customers who do know the difference between data and speed.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • icon
          Karl Bode (profile), 1 Sep 2015 @ 9:07am

          Re: Re: Re:

          This is a heaping pile of of semantics. Go back and read the definition that leads the post again. Please take time to note words like "unrestricted" and "unconditional."

          If I throttle your "unlimited" connection to 10 kbps and then kick you in the crotch, are you still ok if I use the word unlimited? Because technically you're still getting an unlimited connection.

          "It's still unlimited because technically data is still flowing regardless of anything else done to the connection" is specious, flimsy reasoning.

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • icon
          Jeremy Lyman (profile), 1 Sep 2015 @ 10:18am

          Re: Re: Re:

          Go ahead and replace "data" in your argument with "water". If you'd paid a flat fee for unlimited water and after using a bit too much one month it slowed to a trickle and you couldn't wash clothes or shower, would it be unlimited water? "It's water there's nothing related to speed!"

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • icon
          John Fenderson (profile), 1 Sep 2015 @ 10:33am

          Re: Re: Re:

          "But don't call out a company whose 100% straight forward with its customers who do know the difference between data and speed."

          Ok, I won't. As someone who is very, very aware of the difference, I'll still call out the company for being incredibly misleading in their marketing materials.

          Because they are.

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      Machin Shin (profile), 1 Sep 2015 @ 7:16am

      Re:

      "If a few "customers" come along and take more than they're alloted"

      More than they are alloted? Please explain how it is clear that "Unlimited" comes with an allotment. When I see unlimited I think of well.... unlimited as in, without limit.

      Also, while they are complaining about those evil people tethering, I can tell you that it is quite easy to use these massive quantities of data on a device. I for example currently have a phone with a screen that exceeds 1080p. So I can jump on a video stream in full HD. Oh, and I have a 64 gig card in my phone, so I can easily download any files direct to my phone and then transfer them to the computer. Of course there is also the fun things you can do like hosting a TOR node on your phone....

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      nasch (profile), 1 Sep 2015 @ 6:08pm

      Re:

      As far as I'm concerned, I see no problem with T-Mobile going after these users, because chances are, they're the bots we all hate sending out spam texts everyone gets.

      Do text messages go out on LTE now? And if it was really spammers, don't you think they would have mentioned that? Everyone hates spammers, so T-Mobile would have jumped at the chance to trumpet that they're going after spammers.

      Because, unlike broadband, LTE does have a limited throughput and I don't know about you, but I sure as hell don't want a spinning icon as my phone is trying to send and receive data because "customers", by your definition, can work around and tether all the LTE speed for themselves.

      Aren't you now getting mixed up between speed and data? What difference does it make if you're getting slow speeds because there are 1000 people using LTE with you who are all under their unlimited data limitation, or if those 1000 people have already downloaded 22 GB that month? T-Mobile has already admitted that this is a tiny minority of their customers, so throttling them will not solve or prevent the problem you describe.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      the need for speed, 2 Sep 2015 @ 1:13am

      Re: No it's not

      Enough said.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 1 Sep 2015 @ 6:50am

    How dare those evil hackers install legal custom roms based on an open source operating system on their legally owned devices and then proceed to use said legal roms on legal devices to steal unlimited data on our unlimited* services!





    *limited

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 1 Sep 2015 @ 6:52am

    Wonder where these 'hackers' are at?

    Perhaps in areas the top ISPs have ignored? Where they pass laws banning municipal broadband and tell users to go cellular instead?

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Josh (profile), 1 Sep 2015 @ 6:52am

    buffet

    Here's an unlimited buffet for you to eat from. You only get one plate to use, the desert plate.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 1 Sep 2015 @ 6:57am

      Re: buffet

      Woah there, you're eating an awful lot. Why don't you slow down and take spoonfuls instead. I'll just take that plate back...

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      hegemon13, 1 Sep 2015 @ 7:01am

      Re: buffet

      "But you said the buffet was unlimited! Why shouldn't I be able to share it with all my family, friends, and anyone else? You're telling me I can't set up my own buffet line over here and transfer the buffet food to it? Totally unfair! False advertising!"

      Oh, yeah, everyone understands that "unlimited" applies only to the person who ordered the buffet. Kind of like everyone with any reading comprehension understands "unlimited" data applies to the device for which it was purchased.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • icon
        ltlw0lf (profile), 1 Sep 2015 @ 7:36am

        Re: Re: buffet

        Oh, yeah, everyone understands that "unlimited" applies only to the person who ordered the buffet.

        Ah, yes, but that is not what the word unlimited means. Unlimited means without limits, and when you put limits on something that is unlimited, you shouldn't legally be able to call it unlimited. I know of no buffet that calls it unlimited any more...they call it all-you-can-eat, which implies that "you" is one person.

        Kind of like everyone with any reading comprehension understands "unlimited" data applies to the device for which it was purchased.

        Anyone with reading comprehension but no basis on reality or the English language. While I agree with you that they are quite clear on what they mean when they say that data only applies to the phone, Karl is quite right in pointing out that "unlimited" does not mean 21 GB limit, and only on the device for which it was purchased (since unlimited means without limits.)

        T-Mobile should instead change their offering to "all-you-can-use-on-the-phone" data plan, but even then it isn't correct since if I was to use my phone to stream Netflix for 8 hours a day for 3 days (@ 1GB per hour,) I'd be well into their limits.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • identicon
          hegemon13, 1 Sep 2015 @ 9:26am

          Re: Re: Re: buffet

          I agree on the 21GB limitation, although again they don't cut you off at 21GB, they just deprioritize your traffic in certain situations. Still, since the unlimited plan is supposed to mean unlimited 4G, you're right on that point. The 21GB limit is wrong (although it would be very difficult to hit with realistic phone use).

          On the main point of the article, which relates to tethering, it's completely off the mark. Unlimited for a phone, which is clearly what is stated in the T-mobile terms, does NOT mean unlimited for all devices you choose to connect. Taking the word "unlimited" out of the context of the terms in which it's presented is disingenuous and a complete reading comprehension fail.

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

          • icon
            ltlw0lf (profile), 1 Sep 2015 @ 10:33am

            Re: Re: Re: Re: buffet

            Taking the word "unlimited" out of the context of the terms in which it's presented is disingenuous and a complete reading comprehension fail.

            But you are still failing. Unlimited means unlimited, period. You cannot have limits on "unlimited". Change the word, don't get upset when others read the word in the way that everyone else reads it (because it is the way it is defined in the dictionary.)

            There is no context to the word "unlimited", otherwise it is the opposite of what it means.

            reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • icon
          Sheogorath (profile), 1 Sep 2015 @ 12:05pm

          Re: Re: Re: buffet

          I know of no buffet that calls it unlimited any more...they call it all-you-can-eat, which implies that "you" is one person.
          And that's why 3 UK can never be accused of false advertising; they don't offer unlimited data, they offer all-you-can-eat data with the 'you' in this case being the SIM card. :)

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

          • icon
            ltlw0lf (profile), 1 Sep 2015 @ 12:13pm

            Re: Re: Re: Re: buffet

            And that's why 3 UK can never be accused of false advertising; they don't offer unlimited data, they offer all-you-can-eat data with the 'you' in this case being the SIM card. :)

            I kinda figure that they are going to have more problems lying in marketing than we do in the US. In the EU they tend to enforce the "you can't lie to your customers" aspect that in the US we tend to just call "marketing". Annoying as hell, you have to be really blatant (or not be big enough to hire lawyers) to run afoul of the "you can't lie to your customers" rules.

            reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

            • icon
              Sheogorath (profile), 1 Sep 2015 @ 12:51pm

              Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: buffet

              In the EU they tend to enforce the "you can't lie to your customers" aspect that in the US we tend to just call "marketing".
              Maybe EE should be told that, since they offer 'unlimited' data that's capped at 500MB a month. (-_Q)

              reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    John Fenderson (profile), 1 Sep 2015 @ 7:50am

    Yes it is.

    Make no mistake about it – this is not the same issue.


    Yes, it is.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 1 Sep 2015 @ 7:55am

    "Eventually"

    You missed this quote:
    If their activities are left unchecked their actions could eventually have a negative effect on the experience of honest T-Mobile customers.
    In other words, these "thieves" have so far had approximately zero effect on other customers.

    Sometimes people say wireless phone carriers should be considered as broadband internet competition. Stuff like this should remind us why we can't take that seriously.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Jared (profile), 1 Sep 2015 @ 8:39am

    Misleading

    He is going after people who have unlimited data on their phones but limited data for tethering and are circumventing the limitation. The article is misleading in that they are going after unlimited data users where they are clearly going after people violating the terms of their agreement.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 1 Sep 2015 @ 9:00am

      Re: Misleading

      How does that restriction make sense, though? It's OK if I fill a 2 TB USB drive connected to my phone, but not a separate computer?

      Are people breaking similar restrictions by hooking multiple computers to their home connections? I remember in the late '90s my cable ISP had a 3-computer limit, and we ran a dual-NIC PC as a router to get around it (home routers not yet being popular). We had an "illegal" cable TV splitter too. I wouldn't be surprised if many agreements still had these restrictions in place, but I'd be shocked if a cable internet provider were calling its customers thieves for hooking up 4 devices.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • icon
        JMT (profile), 1 Sep 2015 @ 6:28pm

        Re: Re: Misleading

        "He is going after people who have unlimited data on their phones but limited data for tethering and are circumventing the limitation."

        If there are limitations to your data use, it's not "unlimited". There are no explanations for using that word other as deliberately misleading marketing-speak. The word has a meaning, and they're using it in exactly the opposite manner. Why not call just call it the 20GB plan and get rid of the stupid tethering restrictions? Unless of course they're just trying to make the plan look better than it really is, which we know is the real truth.

        "The article is misleading in that they are going after unlimited data users where they are clearly going after people violating the terms of their agreement."

        But why are there even restrictions on tethering? From the carrier's point of view what's the difference between viewing content on my phone as opposed to viewing the same content on my non-cellular iPad via my phone? It's the same data! Instead of getting so aggressive about a terms of service violation they should perhaps realize people think their terms suck.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Uriel-238 (profile), 1 Sep 2015 @ 9:12am

    This remains a very miffy point of mine.

    Some of us use our data to play online games.

    Frankly, charges for tethering and data caps remain both as cash grabs. Even in the telecom sector it's a matter of cheaply installing more infrastructure, which our lack of competition in the US allows them to not do.

    But cellular services would rather fleece the people than provide a real product and see that product used to its fullest potential.

    Better to be the biggest man in a small town than just another player the Big Apple.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 1 Sep 2015 @ 9:15am

    I can understand trying to cut down on people using substantially more data than anyone else, but imposing a separate cap for tethering is nonsensical. This is why I rooted my phone and direct the tethered connection through a VPN; the carrier has no business knowing what my data is doing.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 1 Sep 2015 @ 9:22am

    A bunch of friends and I once went to an all you could eat fish fry.

    That was a bad idea on the places part, and they ended up running out of fish. We ate a ton, but we still were pissed when they told us to stop, because we still had more we could eat.

    We were not too mad though, because they apologized for running out of fish, but if they had come to us and called us thieves, that would have been different. Pigs maybe, but not thieves.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 1 Sep 2015 @ 10:35am

    Re: "I won't let a few thieves ruin things for anyone else".

    Why not? When it comes to T-mobile, the FCC does.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 1 Sep 2015 @ 11:31am

    And there it is...

    I was looking for an excuse to ditch Tmobile, since the coverage where I live is miserable, and I can get similar plans for similar price elsewhere.

    So there we go, I'm going to take my unlocked phone and go elsewhere... They're clearly all run by a bunch of assholes with no real market sense - so why bother trying to find one I like. I'd rather have better coverage for my dollar.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Rapnel (profile), 1 Sep 2015 @ 1:35pm

    Isn't this what happens when middle-men end up behaving like they're servicing something they think they own but don't? There's a lot of that going around.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Pronounce (profile), 1 Sep 2015 @ 3:51pm

    To the Local T-Mobile Office's Credit

    The sales dudes and dudettes at my local T-Mobile shop made it a point of telling me that T-Mobile throttles.

    In regards to users by-passing the carrier imposed data throttle by rooting a phone so as to remove a carrier lock on the SIM, I can understand John Legere's issue. But if Legere wants to resolve this matter in a customer friendly way I think he should embrace unlocked and rooted phones, and then look at other ways to regulate the amount of data usage.

    As a network administrator I understand the issue of balancing the needs of the community in relation to the desires of a heavy consuming minority. There are good ways and bad ways of handling this type of situation. I hope T-Mobile chooses the good way.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      John Fenderson (profile), 2 Sep 2015 @ 9:37am

      Re: To the Local T-Mobile Office's Credit

      "users by-passing the carrier imposed data throttle by rooting a phone so as to remove a carrier lock on the SIM"

      Rooting your phone doesn't let you do this. It's also not what he's complaining about. He's complaining about people removing the hack T-Mobile put in to prevent you from tethering. Preventing this is so nonsensical both from a logical and technical point of view that even AT&T stopped doing it years ago.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • icon
        Uriel-238 (profile), 2 Sep 2015 @ 10:11am

        Re: Re: To the Local T-Mobile Office's Credit

        Also there are software solutions on Google Play that will allow one to tether or provide a local hotspot despite their efforts to impede same.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 1 Sep 2015 @ 7:44pm

    Stop disrespecting...

    ...your grand-daddy Simon and spell your name the traditional way, Mr. Legree.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Salvatore Candeloro, 20 Oct 2015 @ 7:11am

    T-Mobile throttling

    Excellent writing about T-Mobile, but don't think for a minute that advertising a truly unlimited plan and being paid for that plan, in my case, over two years, then not providing the service and collecting the same fee is legal. It is not, and no amount of word games can change that reality. Throttling is happening after 21 gigs and the service for Internet practically dies. This CEO is obsessed with a few talented hackers, calling them greedy. Who's the greedy one. This corporate nonsense, lies, false advertising, is simply proving how gullible people are and that they don't believe they deserve any better. News flash: if you pay for a service you deserve that service, not something you were never offered in the first place. The FCC is aware and it's only a matter of time before t-mobile is served and in front of lawyers and hopefully a judge. In the meantime I hope the hackers let their secrets out and teach layman how to win. Then at least we will all be on an equal dishonest playing field. What does t-mobile CEO think?? He's a thief just like many corporate officers. Not to worry, payback is a bitch. I'll intend to watch and enjoy the show.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    TheAdvocate (profile), 20 Oct 2015 @ 7:29am

    t-mobile throttling

    Why are people stating unlimited data does not include high speed? So easily we forget what was advertised over two years ago. "Truly unlimited high speed data. Watch as much video as you want without slowing down." Our collective short attention span is screwing ourselves. Those of us who switched to this amazing plan, expect to continue receiving what we are still paying for. Many also forget the fine print stating deprioritizing after 21 gigs of use was added THIS SUMMER, NOT WHEN WE PURCHASED OUR PLAN. Please people, get your facts straight and stop sticking up for corporations that are doing illegal business. If any of us tried to get away with this bullshit, we'd be locked up.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]


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