T-Mobile Will Throttle Data from Torrents

Torrenting is rampant; of both legal and illegal content. And some 70 percent of Internet users think that's just fine. However, T-Mobile is not so supportive. TMONews discovered a memo that outlines the carrier's plan to clamp down on users who would use their unlimited 4G/LTE plans for peer-to-peer file sharing.  

“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)," according to the memo. "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.”

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This shift will only affect those on the old $70 unlimited or new $80 Simple Choice Plan. All other plans are unaffected, considering that T-Mobile placed limits on 4G use for most accounts. Peer-to-peer file sharing and torrenting are categorized as misuse by T-Mobile in their Terms and Conditions. The carrier defines throttling as offering customers a maximum speed range from 50 to 128 Kbps, which doesn't even meet the FCC's 1999 definition of broadband. So, basically, really, really slow.

If a user uses heavy torrenting, they can expect the following:

  • T-Mobile will contact them to explain terms and conditions, then advise them that the data speed could be reduced until their next bill if they keep misusing their service
  • A "Misuse Warning SOC" label will be applied to their account
  • If the user does not change their behavior, the Misuse Warning SOC will be replaced by a "Misuse Throttle SOC" and their data speeds will be reduced.  
  • The SOCs can be seen by all T-Mobile staff who access the user's account, and will alert them as to why the user's data is so slow

Oddly enough, T-Mobile exempts many popular music streaming services (iTunes Radio, Spotify, Slacker, Pandora and others) from its data caps, as well as Ookla speed test and other online speed testing apps. T-Mobile does not charge users to exceed their data caps. So once you've been throttled at least you'll be able to see exactly how slow your connection is.

Chris Hutton
Christopher Hutton has written on issues of technology, religion and culture for a variety of sites, including VICE, RNS and Tom's Guide. You can find his website at liter8.net