T-Mobile just updated their guidance about what truly constitutes unlimited on their network. Previously, the company used a “soft data cap” usage limit for smartphone users of 26 GB which was what they say the average top 3% of users consumed in a typical month.
This soft cap included Binge On data usage and applied to unlimited plans but only in instances where T-Mobile claimed users were in a congested area.
The company has come under fire recently for lowering the priority they assigned to tethered data when surrounding towers are congested.
The revamped guidelines state:
To provide the best possible experience for the most possible customers, and to minimize capacity issues and degradation in network performance, we manage significant high-speed data usage through prioritization. Specifically, the top 3% of data users in a month, based on recent historical averages (updated quarterly), will have their data usage prioritized below the data usage (including tethering) of other customers at times and at locations where there are competing customer demands for network resources, which may result in slower data speeds. Customers who use data in violation of their Rate Plan terms or T-Mobile’s Terms and Conditions may be excluded from this calculation. Data features that may not count against the high-speed data allotment for some plans, such as certain data associated with Music Freedom, or Binge On, still counts towards all customers’ usage for this calculation. Data used for customer service applications such as the T-Mobile My Account app and the T-Mobile Tuesdays app do not count towards customers’ usage for this calculation. Smartphone Mobile HotSpot (tethering) data is also included in this calculation. Based on network statistics for the most recent quarter, customers who use more than 28GB of data during a billing cycle will have their data usage prioritized below other customers’ data usage for the remainder of the billing cycle in times and at locations where there are competing customer demands for network resources. At the start of the next bill cycle, the customer’s usage status is reset, and this data traffic is no longer prioritized below other traffic.
The new limit is 2 GB higher than the previous 26 GB. It’s worth noting that this limit only kicks in for congested cell tower usage which means a user with 50 GB of total monthly use in a non-congested area may never notice a slowdown while someone with a little more than half that in a congested area such as Chicago would likely see throttled speeds.