T-Mobile is today issuing a warning to customers: stop taking unlimited data to ridiculous extremes. In a post on T-Mobile's blog, CEO John Legere has publicly called out "a fraction of a percent" of users who've been sucking down hundreds or even thousands of gigabytes of data each month.
But these customers aren't using all of that data on their smartphones alone; instead, T-Mobile claims they've come up with ways to conceal mobile tethering and hotspot usage. Tethering allows customers to get other devices (PCs, tablets, etc.) online using their smartphone data plan.
"I won't let a few thieves ruin things for anyone else."
With its $80 unlimited data plan, T-Mobile already offers a generous 7GB limit for tethering purposes. Once customers exceed that, their hotspot speeds are slowed down considerably. But there are many apps — particularly on Android — that promise to hide tethering activity from wireless carriers, making it hard to distinguish what data is actually being used for.
By going this route, T-Mobile's hungriest data users can blow past the 7GB ceiling and keep tethering at full speed. Legere claims some people are doing exactly that, and he's not happy about it. In the most extreme cases, these customers are eating up as much as 2TB (yes, terabytes) per month, so they're using T-Mobile's network for way more than checking Facebook or streaming Spotify. "If their activities are left unchecked their actions could eventually have a negative effect on the experience of honest T-Mobile customers," he said. "Not on my watch."
"We are going after a small group of users who are stealing data so blatantly and extremely that it is ridiculous," Legere wrote. T-Mobile says it has developed technology that can now detect when customers who've reached the tethering limit are "stealing" extra gigabytes from their phone's plan. Starting today, those users will receive a warning from the Uncarrier imploring them to stop immediately. Failing to heed that warning will result in customers being permanently kicked off of T-Mobile's unlimited data plan and moved onto the company's entry-level (and tiered) package.
The full details can be found in a FAQ here. If you need more than 7GB of data for tethering, T-Mobile's message is pretty clear: call your local internet company. "Broadband services would be a better solution for customers who need more high-speed for tethered devices." John Legere is no longer willing to let you download torrents or power your home Wi-Fi with his network — however "Data Strong" it may be.