T-Mobile Reportedly Planning To Impose Limits On Roaming Data Capabilities

Customers traveling out of the range of T-Mobile’s network might be seeing some changes to the limits they can stretch their roaming data coverage. Documents reportedly leaked from T-Mobile reveal the company is planning to cut subscribers off at certain data thresholds when they’re outside the network.

TmoNews, via Consumer Reports, says they’ve got T-Mobile’s plans for the new era in domestic roaming plans. Every billing cycle, a customer’s allotment will be reset, and your roaming access limits are set proportionate to the size of your data plan. Your only hope of coverage once you reach the limit is to connect to a Wi-Fi service or get back to the network area.

It works out to a roaming limit of 5MB for those on the 200MB data plan, about 2.5% of their total, or for those with 2GB, their cap is set at 10MB — about 0.5% of their monthly plan.

The site says T-Mobile will notify customers in early February in their bills, email and via text messages. A grandfathered account isn’t safe, either — the new allotments cover existing accounts as well as new ones, with very few exceptions. Once you get to 80% of your monthly allotment, you’ll be notified via text, as well as once you’ve reached 100% usage.

T-Mobile sees this as a way to reduce data roaming costs and stay competitive — after all, everyone else is doing it!

While domestic data roaming allotments are new for T-Mobile, they are currently used across the wireless industry and are quite common with other carriers. It is expected that few customers use enough domestic data while roaming to be impacted by this change.

Various accounts and services are exempt from this new plan, including T-Mobile employees, small businesses, government accounts, mobile broadband rate plans, text and picture messaging and others.

T-Mobile Changes To Domestic Roaming Detailed, Confirmed For April 5th [TmoNews]

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  1. DariusC says:

    Next, they will begin limiting data coming from towers that aren’t completely owned by them. Does anyone else see a pattern here? They are slowly taking away value from their cell phone services, encouraging other providers to do the same to keep up the scheme of forcing users to pay for features they previously had included in their plan.

    • homehome says:

      Don’t like it? Vote with your dollar.

      • DariusC says:

        That doesn’t work when everyone else follows suit. See – The Airline Industry (in regards to fees). It’s easy to say vote with your dollar when your constructing a monopolistic price controlling scheme. ATT/Sprint/T-Mobile/Verizon own most of the wireless network spectrum. Why do you not see new wireless providers springing up? HINT: It’s not the same reason you don’t see tons of Luxury Yacht dealers.

        • homehome says:

          well then you’re just gonna have to sacrifice. if there was something cell phone companies were doing that just completely upset me, I’d get rid of it. find an alternative.

          • DariusC says:

            The idea of telling people to find an alternative when you know damn well that there is no alternative is like telling someone to pound sand. It’s the equivelant of a prison guard telling a prisoner that if they don’t like it they can just leave (even though they can’t). Yes, I know I took it to the extreme. That’s how I roll.

  2. reimero says:

    Frankly, I don’t see it as a bad thing. It should get rid of the whole “why do I have this $17,469 bill for roaming!?!?”

    • IT-Princess: I work in IT, you owe me $1 says:

      For an individual person this might be the answer, but I can’t tell my Executives this. I would much rather pay a ridiculous charge like I do every month than tell them they can’t use their data while travelling.

    • AEN says:

      You’re always hit for roaming overseas regardless of your plan, so the $17,469 charges can still exist. T-Mobile is restricting your DOMESTIC roaming, which used to be included in the price of your plan.

    • greatgoogly says:

      Actually this will not fix that problem. The new scheme is for domestic roaming. International roaming is where you see those national debt sized bills and this new policy has nothing to do with that. International data roaming is always billed out at the “at least buy me dinner before screwing me” rate of $15 per MB (not a typo, per MB). You bring an Android phone overseas and let it roam and you will quickly start accumulating a beyond ridiculous bill.

    • SenorAnderson says:

      You don’t get charged for roaming (domestically) on T-Mobile so this wouldn’t be a problem.

  3. golddog says:

    Uhh…what data roaming? I have the all-you-can-eat plan on a stock Android OS and I can see exactly two GSM carriers in my usual stomping grounds…T-Mobile and AT&T. When all my phone can see is AT&T I can’t make calls much less use data (yes the data roaming/roaming networks boxes are checked off). What is this “roaming” you speak of?

  4. SenorAnderson says:

    Does this constitute a material change to my contract that would allow me to get out of it without an early termination fee?

    • ZachPA says:

      No. Most contracts include language that says the carrier can make or break relationships with other carriers to enable or disable roaming. While you are not on T-Mobile’s network, you are at the mercy of the other network operator, and there is nothing that either you or T-Mobile can do about it. This change is nothing more than a redefinition of the relationship T-Mobile has with other GSM carriers.

    • AEN says:

      No, because T-Mobile’s terms of service don’t guarantee ANY connectivitity regardless while roaming.

  5. MaxH42 thinks RecordStoreToughGuy got a raw deal says:

    Sure sounds like a materially adverse change to me! (Especially if you actually use roaming data.)

  6. bendee says:

    I found the error in the post (it’s a contest, isn’t it?)! 2GB of data receives 50MB of roaming according to the TMoNews article, not 10MB.

  7. ellemdee says:

    “Every billing cycle, a customer’s allotment will be reset, and your roaming access limits are set proportionate to the size of your data plan.”

    So if your data plan is unlimited (real unlimited, not fake unlimited), then your roaming data would be unlimited, since any percent of infinity is infinity? …somehow I doubt I’d be that lucky, though maybe that’s one of the “very few exceptions”.

    I actually wasn’t sure if T-Mobile even allowed free data roaming the way they allow free voice roaming. Being able to use a smartphone on vacation (in the same state, but out of T-Mobile’s coverage area) would be very handy, but I didn’t want to get stuck with a $10,000 bill for pulling up a couple maps and phone numbers while roaming.

    • ellemdee says:

      Ah, looks like the exceptions will be:
      •Business/Government accounts
      •Small Business Accounts
      •T-Mobile employee accounts
      •Mobile broadband rate plans
      •Voice domestic roaming
      •Text and picture messaging while roaming domestically
      •International voice and data roaming

  8. maxamus2 says:

    People, there is an outside world out there, and one where you don’t have to be tethered to your electronics.

  9. rockingrandma says:

    We use Walmart’s Family Mobile which is just T-Mobile rebranded. We got a letter in the mail telling us that we would no longer be able to get data while roaming but they are also giving everyone 250 mb of data free every month and free picture messaging.

  10. kevinroyalty says:

    3 words for you t-mobile folk that are upset by this….Welcome to Sprint!

    • jeb says:

      Sprint also restricts roaming to 300 MB/month, 800 minutes a month, or some amount of text messages per month (I think, not completely sure.) It’s a soft cap, so you can go over, but if it’s consistent, they’ll kick you off.

      Personal experience.

  11. Kaleey says:

    Right. T-Mobile is going to cut off one of their biggest cash cows. Roaming data probably accounts for 75% or more of the massive overage bills that are processed each month. Unless T-Mobile is not collecting on any of those bills of course.

    I would sooner expect them to cut off normal data access and FORCE users to use romaing data at a certain threshold to rake in more $$$.

    • NeverLetMeDown says:

      Wow, actually understanding the issue would help you make better posts. They’re not talking about int’l roaming, where they charge for it, they’re talking about roaming WITHIN THE US. There are lots of areas where T-Mobile doesn’t actually have a network, and uses AT&T’s network (primarily). T-Mobile pays AT&T for that access. If you have a T-Mobile plan, and live somewhere there’s no T-Mobile network, using your wireless data plan costs T-Mobile serious $ out of pocket.

      Same’s true for Sprint/Verizon, by the way. Sprint pays Verizon well over a billion dollars a year in roaming charges, T-Mobile’s probably paying AT&T something in the same ballpark.