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T-Mobile agrees to help users accurately test for reduced data speeds

T-Mobile agrees to help users accurately test for reduced data speeds

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T-Mobile will begin giving its customers clearer information about when they're placed on reduced data speeds. Under a new agreement with the Federal Communications Commission, T-Mobile will provide customers with a link to a speed test when they're placed on reduced data speeds so that they can accurately see what kind of service they're getting. The updated policy was announced today and will go into effect within 60 days.

"Consumers need this information to fully understand what they are getting."

The agreement is meant to clarify potential confusion around how T-Mobile has handled network speed tests. On a number of T-Mobile plans, customers will be placed on dramatically reduced data speeds once they run through their allotment on high-speed data. The trouble has been that, since June, running a speed test would not show a customer how fast their current service is — rather, it would show them how fast the network as a whole was. While this practice of exempting speed tests from reduced data may not change, T-Mobile has agreed to direct customers to tests that can accurately measure their reduced speed too.

"The FCC is committed to ensuring that broadband providers are transparent to consumers. I’m grateful T-Mobile has worked with the FCC to ensure that its customers are better informed about the speeds they are experiencing," FCC chairman Tom Wheeler says in a statement. "Consumers need this information to fully understand what they are getting with their broadband service."

The commission has been investigating the speed reduction practices of wireless carriers this year, and it's already resulted in one other major change. Last month, Verizon ended its practice of throttling the speeds of customers on its unlimited data plans.

T-Mobile will take a number of other actions to clarify its reduced speed policies. T-Mobile already sends customers a text message to inform them when they've used up their high-speed data allotment and are being moved onto reduced speeds, and it'll modify the language in those messages to note that some speed tests only show full network speeds. The messages will also better explain what type of speeds customers can expect. T-Mobile will also update its website to better explain its speed test policies and will provide a button on customers' phones that will direct them to an accurate test.

The commission makes the agreement sound like one that was reached on amicable terms, which seems to be the FCC's goal with this ongoing investigation. T-Mobile's policies have always been outlined — they've just been confusing because of the carrier's new speed test policies, and this should at least help to resolve that issue.