T-Mobile’s ‘unlimited means unlimited’ policy is good for consumers, but it’s also a boon for less scrupulous users who use cell data to replace broadband, with the help of a few dubious workarounds. Starting today, the endless data gravy train is going to stop.
T-Mobile’s top-end plan does actually offer unlimited LTE data — but that’s just for use on your smartphone. When it comes to tethering your laptop to your phone, you get 7GB of high-speed data, after which you’re throttled. However, with some fairly simple workarounds on rooted Android phones, users trick the carrier into seeing tethering use as normal cellphone use — and according to T Mobile, some people are abusing that to the tune of 2TB a month.
So, starting today, anyone who’s deemed to be “hacking the system” will be punished by T-Mobile. Specifically, they’ll get booted down to a plan with a limited amount of LTE data, regardless of whether that’s being used to tether, or on a smartphone.
There’s always a concern when carriers start restricting customers — T-Mobile is using software to detect people who are stealth-tethering, which will inevitably turn into the normal game of cat-and-mouse between users and the network, and I’m sure some innocent users will probably get caught in the crossfire.
But equally, Legere is right that a few thousand people, abusing a system that was never built to replace broadband, can make things suck for millions of other subscribers. So for once, maybe unlimited not meaning unlimited isn’t a bad thing.