PSA: T-Mobile will begin throttling customers using unlimited data for peer-to-peer file sharing


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As one of the few carriers in the US to offer an unlimited data plan, T-Mobile is often a refuge for data hungry wireless subscribers looking to free themselves from the shackles of data caps and throttling. While some customers they can use this data however you like (streaming YouTube videos, Netflix, music, or downloading large files), there is one method for download data T-Mobile is definitely not okay with: peer-to-peer file sharing.

Although clearly forbidden in T-Mobile’s terms and conditions, a leaked internal memo mentions T-Mobile is now ready to finally start cracking down on heavy data users abusing their T&Cs which include everything from P2P file sharing apps, to continuous web camera broadcasts. Starting August 17th, customers found to be misusing T-Mobile’s network can expect some throttling. Here’s an excerpt of the memo:

“T-Mobile has identified customers who are heavy data users and are engaged in peer-to-peer file sharing, and tethering outside of T-Mobile’s Terms and Conditions (T&C). This results in a negative data network experience for T-Mobile customers. Beginning August 17, T-Mobile will begin to address customers who are conducting activities outside of T-Mobile’s T&Cs.”

To be clear, anyone violating T-Mobile’s T&Cs wont simply find themselves throttled out of the blue. T-Mobile has put together a dedicated team who will begin notifying offending customers of their misuse, with further action requiring the inevitable throttle.


Chris Chavez
I've been obsessed with consumer technology for about as long as I can remember, be it video games, photography, or mobile devices. If you can plug it in, I have to own it. Preparing for the day when Android finally becomes self-aware and I get to welcome our new robot overlords.

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  1. Meh

  2. Good.

  3. I am not an expert, but P2P on a mobile network has to be a bandwidth killer.

  4. Plex plus sickbeard/couchpotato plus Usenet plus home computer= Problem solved.

    1. Bittorrent + laptop + HDMI cable + HDTV = forever TV

  5. can anyone explain if this would have any effect on people heavily using Netflix? I watch it sometimes few hours a day. usage is as much as 75GB/month

  6. hopefully they stop at P2P and don’t throttle other things. i might leave Tmo if they don’t respect net neutrality

    1. leave them for… Sprint?

  7. If everyone did P2P, it would bog things down. It is in their terms as well.

  8. Glad I left T-mobile. Their customer service is horrendous and all this “uncarrier” bs is just that. They’re no different from any other carrier. Maybe $10 or $20 cheaper, but after you factor in the monthly payment for phones, it’s a wash. And those phones are still locked down, full of bloat, and receive delayed updates if at all. Their network is terrible (dropped and missed calls abound) even where they supposedly have full coverage, and I’ve found that in service matters they shift the burden onto the customer at every opportunity.

    People can hate on p2p all they want, but the entertainment industry and their outdated business practices that fuel file sharing is an entirely different subject. Notice the memo also mentioned tethering. So no more unlimited tethering on unlocked devices either. Another hotly debated topic.

    This is just one more thing that should clue in the people that are being fooled that T-mobile is still just another greedy American carrier. And still the smallest and least reliable too.

    1. Left for Verizon? Where freedom and reasonable prices are always on the horizon?

      1. More like a pre paid network where you have true freedom and low prices.

    2. I dont think anyone is being fooled. Everyone knows T-mobile is a business that aims to be profitable. But people liked them because they are a much better option for many vs Verizon, Sprint, or Tmobile.

      People liked that they have flexibility with Tmobile, sure they could pay for a brand new device, but if they chose not to, then their bill becomes much cheaper.

      Obviously their network isn’t as vast as the other guys, but me personally being in NYC the network is great. Noone thinks Tmoile is mother Teresa here, but they like them as the best option. Even if they do start throttling torrents, unlimited with exception of torrents for a cheaper price than Verizon’s 2gb plan no matter what, for example. Is still something plenty of people will enjoy.

      1. “Much” cheaper? $80 for their famous unlimited plan isn’t much cheaper at all. Sure if you live in an area with a strong signal then the network aspect isn’t bad. The only problem is even within cities that are supposedly covered in lte, dead spots and slow spots are everywhere. I have lte coverage here, but you wouldn’t know it by the average 1-3 Mbps speeds.

        Service is still a problem too. Do you know what one has to go through to return a device purchased online? I do, and it isn’t pretty. First, if it isn’t a warranty exchange, there’s no return label, period. They have nothing that they will send you to print off, whether you pay for the return shipping or not. And you will pay for it, about $20 as they require insurance.

        But what about the address to send returns to? Like I said there’s no label so the rep will verbally tell it to you over the phone and you have to jot it down on a package yourself. Even then, I was told three different addresses by three different employees. After being assured by a manager that one of the three was correct, I mailed the package and just hoped it would get there.

        1. You dont have to get the unlimited. You can enjoy a larger 3gb data cap vs verizon’s 2gb of data cap for $30/mo cheaper ($60/mo vs $90/mo) or you can. I would consider that to be a pretty sizable difference on a monthly price price.

          As always, your mileage may vary, as I constantly get between 8mbps and 30 mbps on tmobile here in NYC. I used to average 6-12 mbps on my hspa+ only nexus 4 before i upgraded to the G3. And my buddy on verizon averages between 3-9 mbps. At least this was around work and before Verizons recent xlte stuff.

          No i don’t know how it is to return an online purchased device. I tend to buy my devices in store as i like to play with them before purchasing. plus got forbid they open the box and something is wrong, they i don’t have to wait.

          So no tmobile isnt flawless, i dont think anyone is saying they are. But their service in my area for me has been great. I do lose signals in some basements like bestbuy in manhattan. And this one pizzeria, but I can live with those very rare occurrences.

          1. I hear that. But if I’m only getting 3 gigs of high speed I’d much rather pay $45 than $60+$15 or so in taxes and fees. I’m using straight talk with an att sim right now and enjoying all the perks of their lte network for $45, with nothing but state sales tax. Under $50.

          2. certainly a valid option. I can’t say i’ve tried those out personally, but i remember when a friend of mine had virgin mobile (a prepaid network of sprint’s) and I had sprint, they got significantly worse service than I.

            Also, i heard they sometimes throttled at around 2gb. I cant say they def do, but i’ve seen comments on the issue. Plus then you use the ability to do device payment plan should you choose to. Or family plans. I’m just saying peopel enjoy the flexibility of the tmobile plan.

          3. I liked financing phones. But it didn’t seem worth it with all the carrier bloat and crap they put on, and how they treat it as an etf fee if you cancel service. If they’re gong to pretend like they’re just being nice by financing the phone for you, they should be unlocked devices and updates shouldn’t go through T-mobile. Plus their phone selection is abysmal and their prices are a little high in certain instances. Like the nexus 5 for example.

          4. I don’t think anyone is pretending they are being nice, clearly its a business and business is about making money. Their phone selection seems fine to me, it has all of the flagships that everyone else has. I’m not saying you have to finance your device, but again its about the option to. I can buy the nexus 5 in full, or do a payment plan through motorola/htc’s site, or through tmobile for OEM’s that don’t offer that service. Just saying i like the flexibility that others didnt offer until after tmobile started offering stuff, and i like the price flexibility. That’s all.

          5. Actually they are. Their entire new uncarrier campaign is about trying to make people think they care more about the customer than others. “we’re ska wireless carrier, we’re just not going to act like one.” Except they are.

          6. I will never go back to Straight Talk not after having them cut my data completely for a month and a half for a single none HD 5min youtube video.

    3. we have had little issues with tmobile. came from verizon…still get same decent speeds and call quality. in fact, the call quality has been phenomenal since the company enabled volte in chicago. of course we have issues when we drive down to the middle of nowhere but whatever. its still cheaper than what we were paying for verizon even while paying for phones. most companies are starting to get away from phone subsidies anyway. shortly everyone will be paying monthly for their phones. i would rather do that anyway, we can upgrade pretty much whenever we want. tmobile isn’t perfect like most carriers but its far better than sprint, way better than att, and cheaper than verizon. the majority of their phones can be unlocked quick and easilly as i have done to both our HTC and LG. the samsung ones are a pain because samsung, not the carriers, decided to include KNOX on the devices. of course i mean for rooting, but once you root its pretty easy to unlock. whatever though.

      1. Well if one only considers those 4 carriers, and price is the most important factor, then T-mobile would slightly edge them out yes. I’m not saying T-mobile is the devil, just that they’re not better than any other carrier in any area other than price, and worse in other areas.

        I have no problem with financing phones, but it’s not worth it the way they do it.

    4. Full of bloat? What bloat? I only see 3 Tmo apps. Wait!! I forgot about the Voicemail one. I think that would make 4. I use the Tmo Account one. There customer service is GREAT. I’ve never had a bad experience.

      Calculating the payments of phones actually isn’t fair since the price of the phone is in the bill and can be negated if you pay for the phone in full.

      I think the issue with P2P is that you can tether regardless if you have any tethering left in your tethering plan. So they have to fix something about that. People shouldn’t be breaching their contract they signed and agreed to.

      Overall, I don’t think Tmo is a bad company. Up front at least. As far as what goes behind the scenes, that’s a story for another day.

      1. If you make a count in settings, there are at least 8 from T-mobile. Admittedly three are pieces of the same thing, the system manager, but there’s definitely more than 4. Things like myaccount, lookout, and system manager I consider malware. The myaccount app constantly runs, monitoring every aspect of your device, including location. It’s a drain on system resources and a violation of privacy. It serves no useful function for me at all, yet they give no choice whether it comes on your phone or not, and there is no way to turn it off. You have to be lucky enough to get a device that will allow you to disable the app. Not all do. System manager has an option to uncheck for diagnostics, yet the app still runs. And it can not be disabled on any phone.

        And lucking out by finding a cool rep who is willing to try and help is one thing. But I’m talking about their actual policies, like the return policy. Online it’s a nightmare, in store they charge a whopping $50 restocking fee. They claim that the fee can be waived if the device is defective, but in order to actually get that done you have to return it to the exact location you purchased it, and a full fledged manager Imust be on shift, not an assistant manager. It’s a huge run around.

        1. Yea. That makes a lot of sense. I want to disable it, but I actually use it. =.[

          The app could be completely off and I get a notification from the app about the S5 being available. Don’t nobody want no S5. And why is the app sending me notifications? Dafeck!?

          I REALLY want it gone, but the information is so useful to me at a quick glance. =.[

          I may look into cutting off all it’s permissions and ability to run in the background. I only need it to load the info when I open the app. Hmm…

          But you shouldn’t need to root to fix bloat issues.

      2. There customer service used to be top notch, but when they were financially struggling, their customer service also struggled. Two years ago I had an issue sorting out the end of my contract and it was possibly some of the most disdain customer service I got. It made me all the more eager to leave T-Mobile as it felt like a foot in my *** on the way out. Can’t say I’ll ever be back.

        Going into respective carrier stores, you can also see a difference in the level of proffesionalism.

        I’ll pay a little more for better coverage and customer service.

        1. Great point about the stores. I walked into both an AT&T and a Verizon store while shopping for a new carrier, and the difference is night and day.

    5. I have to Disagree I was with sprint for 15 yrs got tired of there promises for 4 g towers year after year , since I switched to T Mobile , well let’s just say I couldn’t , be happier , I have zero connection issues , zero dropped calls , and with download speeds consistently in 30 to 40 Mbps , I really can’t complain , as far as pricing I get your point and agree , after the phone payments I’m not really saving any money, I recently called and Bitched and got my rate dropped 30 bucks a month for a year , so once again I can’t complain , but with AT&T , starting there own promotions I’m getting very tempted to switch , we’ll see , but for now I’m a very happy camper with T Mobile………………………..Peace
      EDIT By the way I live just outside Philly .in the Burbs…………

    6. Um no. You can still watch netflix all day on tmobile if you want to. Something not possible with other carriers. Also tmobile has the largest network for many people if you take international into consideration. Free text and data globally on my tmobile plan. Who else can offer me that? I essentially get access to a larger network than Verizon and AT&T combined.

      1. Yes you can watch Netflix all day on your phone with their unlimited plan. If you don’t have internet at home or, say a TV, I can see that being very important. However I already pay $60 a month for high speed internet so shelling out another almost $100 after fees just to watch Netflix on my 5 inch phone screen isn’t very economical.

        1. Obviously im talking about when youre away from home and not in front of youre home tv. Just watching an episode in hd every day on your work lunch break is enough to go over the affordable verizon and att data caps. What a horrible world to live in.

          1. That would be terrible. If that’s how it is and you really need unlimited then it’s a good option. My entire point to begin with is that T-mobile is not better than other carriers in general, not that nobody should ever use T-mobile. They’re just another bs American carrier with most of the same problems the others have, and some all their own.

  9. Who the hell torrents stuff directly onto a phone/tablet using a data plan, anyway? It seems to make so little sense to do that.

    1. I have a buddy who torrents EVERYTHING using his unlimited data. Music, movies, you name it.

      1. I know a guy..who constantly torrents bootleg movies..or now days its called CamView movies…he lives in his RV with no WiFi….this dude is about to suffer.

        1. Can you really call not being able to pirate movies (or having to pay for a more appropriate service to do it) suffering?

          1. Whether you agree with pirating or not, policing the internet is policing the internet. You should not even monitor how someone is using the net if you are a service provider. I’m not saying the possibility of monitoring the net shouldn’t exist, I’m saying if you sell someone unlimited internet access, they should be able to use it in an unlimited fashion. Leave legal matters like child porn and pirating and stuff to the authorities.

            As an aside, I have no problem with p2p torrents right now. For music it’s bs because there are plenty of cheap, reasonable, legal ways to stream unlimited music. But take TV for example. I pay $80 a month to directv to be able to watch, for example the walking dead among other things. Yet I am only allowed to watch it on my TV? That’s not reasonable, and content providers offer no reasonable, legal, affordable way to watch otherwise. If I want to watch the TV show that I pay for, on a wireless device, I’m going to. I would much prefer to do it “legitimately”, but if they refuse to adapt their business model to the current market and thus provide me with no reasonable way to do it, I will find other ways.

          2. I largely agree with you. Throttling, in and of itself, is poor network management. If there’s frequent congestion and additional capacity can’t easily be added, prioritization is a far better way to handle it. That requires identifying different types of traffic, but not really monitoring. There are very limited circumstances that I think pirating is okay, such as when a movie isn’t available for sale/rental/streaming at all, or if only available at outrageous prices.

            You missed the point of my previous post, though. Not being able to torrent isn’t *suffering*, by any reasonable definition of the word. I hate the “first world problems” meme, but it fits here.

  10. I admit that the downloads could potentially be faster than certain ISP’s connections and with unlimited data it may seem attractive as well. Even if wasn’t being throttled, though, you’d be draining the hell out of your device’s battery and you’d have to rely on a mobile connecting which can vary greatly. Torrenting using a home ISP connection and a laptop/computer makes much more sense.

  11. im sorry to anyone offended but if you are THAT stupid to torrent crap using your unlimited data plan you deserve to be throttled. that is insanely stupid.

    1. Um…? You know there’s more to just “torrenting” when it comes to Peer to Peer right? I mean, they just said live web cam feeding all the time.

      Eh…? Never mind.

  12. I once recover a micro sd from a trash phone and I do see .torrent files on there. Yes people do p2p with mp3 music files. They are small and OK though. But I would not do it on a 1080p movie for sure! LOL

  13. T-Mobile like “We’ll give you unlimited music streaming, but you’d be a fool to think you can get unlimited illegal music streaming”. LMAO

  14. I’ll put it this way, if someone is doing something truly illegal, they should be charged with a crime, not have their freaking internet slowed down. T-mobile offers “unlimited” lte access, and if you actually look at the allotment on your account it’s something crazy like 10,000GB. Shouldn’t matter whether you’re streaming Netflix or a webcam. It’s beyond me how anyone could side with T-mobile on this. They offer no policies for bandwidth restriction either so that’s a poor excuse.

  15. T-Mobile is horrible regardless. network is trash.

    1. You’re trash. /end dumb comeback.

      YMMV with them. If you’re in the boonies it’s not that great. But if you’re in major metropolitan areas you should be fine.

      1. I’m trash. you sir are an idiot. there network is garbage.

        1. Well that was an even weaker rebuttal. I should have kept the idiotic comment on its own.

          And it’s ‘Their’. Forgot to capitalize and use the proper form.

          1. Oh excuse me for not having proper grammar. This still does not take away from previous comments. T Mobile is know for a shitty network. As always they will have their followers. Still a horrible network. It always will be. As for idiots you must be a T-Mobile customer. Sorry for that. You’ll learn someday.

          2. I haven’t said otherwise since my initial post, they have great service in certain areas, and terrible in others.

            But if you’re too blind to see past the veil of your current offering to see that ALL the top four networks have been improving then there’s no way to help you. Having such a closed mindset that if ‘X service works this way it’ll always be like that!’ is pretty bad. Please let me know what kool-aid you’re on and why you even bother reading a tech blog when you think tech doesn’t progress naturally over time but stays the same.

            Enjoy whatever company has you brainwashed forever.

  16. lay off the porn fellas..

  17. If their terms and conditions say that torrenting isn’t allowed, how can anyone fault t mobile? Yeah people will cry “muh Internet freedom!” but again, you’re paying to use their network. If when you sign up, they say “you agree to not use our network to engage in peer to peer file sharing of copyrighted material” then you DO IT ANYWAY, what do you expect?

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