T-Mobile Agrees To Show Throttled Users Their Actual Speeds

For the last few months, the Federal Communication Commission has been investigating the data-throttling practices of the country’s major mobile carriers. While AT&T doesn’t see the problem, T-Mobile has come to an agreement with the federal regulator, promising to tell customers when they’ve been throttled, and to lead them to an accurate speed test where they can find out what their current speed is.

Data throttling is a practice used to slow customers with unlimited data plans down once use a pre-determined amount of data. According to T-Mobile, the company throttles their top data hogs, and they’re only going to punitively slow down users who are using their unlimited data plans for things that are explicitly prohibited, like 24/7 webcams or peer-to-peer downloading. They also throttle customers who have used up their entire data allotment: instead of charging overage fees, the carrier simply slows the connection way down.

The FCC’s main concern with T-Mobile and throttling was that customers didn’t have access to information about what their new, slower speeds were. When using third-party speed tests, users found that their data was quite zippy when measured in a speed test, but slow in real life.

The agreement between Big Magenta and the FCC spells out that within 60 days, T-Mobile must:

  • Put a link to an accurate speed test (one that’s subject to throttling and data caps) on users’ handsets
  • Make its notification text messages to customers who have gone over their data caps clearer
  • Spell all of this out more clearly to customers on their website and when customers are first signing up with T-Mobile.

T-MOBILE AGREES TO IMPROVE DISCLOSURES FOR CONSUMERS USING MOBILE SPEED TESTS [FCC] (PDF Download)