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T-Mobile To Throttle Customers Who Use Unlimited LTE Data For Torrents/P2P 147

New submitter User0x45 writes: Here's a nicely transparent announcement: "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." Obviously, it's not a good announcement for people with unlimited plans, but at least it's clear. T-mobile also pulled the backwards anti-net neutrality thing by happily announcing 'Free Streaming' from select music providers... which is, in effect, making non-select usage fee-based.
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T-Mobile To Throttle Customers Who Use Unlimited LTE Data For Torrents/P2P

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  • by King_TJ ( 85913 ) on Wednesday August 13, 2014 @03:23PM (#47665183) Journal

    My first thought is, too many people out there want to act like "net neutrality" should mean free, unlimited use of all services whenever the carrier promises some sort of flat rate option.

    More realistically, I think people need to differentiate between hard line based services and OTA services, which are currently far more expensive to maintain and to support high bandwidth over.

    While I'd be very upset to find my cable company or a service providing broadband over fiber like we have at work was throttling us for using bit-torrent protocol or for "using the service with unauthorized devices" -- I don't have the same issue with it happening on a cellular LTE connection.

    I think there has to be some level of understanding of the underlying limitations of the technology in place. When I use cellular data, I know up-front that I'm sharing a finite amount of bandwidth with everyone else in an X square mile area is on the service, using that same tower. That's just the nature of the beast -- and it's what gives me the ability to stay connected while very mobile, doing things I'd never be able to do at all otherwise, without traveling to a specific place with a landline connection.

    Anyone keeping torrent downloads going on a regular basis over LTE really is just mis-using the service. Sure, there are probably some who live in rural areas who will complain they have no other faster options. But the bottom line is, cellular companies intend their data services to be used primarily in conjunction with their phone handsets, as a way to keep them connected for the Internet tasks you'd most commonly want to do on a phone. They also sell data cards and USB modems, but pretty much always with some strict limits on monthly data usage, or at the very least -- with an "unlimited" plan that contains a lot of exceptions to what unlimited means in that context.

    Really, the only viable alternative is to wind up with pricing like the satellite internet services do; strict monthly usage caps with per megabyte overage fees on top of it. I think it's clear that the majority of customers vastly prefer just paying a reasonable, fixed monthly rate with a promise that "under typical usage scenarios, you can just use the thing whenever you like without worrying about extra costs for data".

  • Re:Uh? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Voyager529 ( 1363959 ) <voyager529@ya h o o.com> on Wednesday August 13, 2014 @03:29PM (#47665235)

    Uh... Who is mad, or desperate enough, to use torrents on a unreliable, slow and capped as hell cellular connection?

    I can't speak for where you live specifically, but here in the northeast, I can tell you this much:

    1.) T-Mobile is, in most metro-ish areas, as reliable as any other carrier. Also, it's not beyond the realm of realisticness to presume that users torrenting on their phone aren't torrenting while driving - if you're stationary and have four bars of LTE signal, T-Mo is pretty damn solid.

    2.) I've gotten 2.5MBytes/sec down on my phone. Not during peak hours, of course, and somewhat varied based on what tower I'm connected to, but >1MByte/sec is quite common - and triple the speed of my home DSL.

    3.) T-Mobile still offers kitchen-sink unlimited data plans if you pay enough. On those, they have a cap on tethering, but on the phone, you can download as much as you want. Since Android has a handful of bittorrent applications, it's entirely possible to be torrenting on an unlimited, uncapped data plan.

    I don't blame T-Mo for doing what they're doing. Torrenting, by nature, takes a significant amount of bandwidth, requires lots of network connections, pounds the Carrier NAT with connections that can't be completed, requires a metric ton of extra routes, and doesn't stop seeding unless the user sets it as such.

    If there's a protocol that's terrible from a cellular provider's standpoint, it's bittorrent. Blocking it on cell phones is about the least objectionable form of "network non-neutrality" that a carrier could implement. On a similar note, I don't know that T-Mobile's music streaming policy is terribly unfair, since they're whitelisting all the major streaming music providers. If they made Pandora free while Slacker had to pay, that's not 'net neutral'. Since everyone who streams audio is included, it's a blurry area for net neutrality.

  • by Jeff Flanagan ( 2981883 ) on Wednesday August 13, 2014 @03:42PM (#47665363)
    Of course it this case it IS ethically right. There's no moral requirement to let abusive users who violate the TOS take up far more than their share of a limited resource.
  • by meta-monkey ( 321000 ) on Wednesday August 13, 2014 @03:49PM (#47665421) Journal

    I can't necessarily disagree. I know, I know, the /. refrain is "if it's not unlimited they shouldn't have called it unlimited!" Fine. Maybe they should say "almost unlimited." What they're trying to say is that you don't need to watch a meter when you're checking your email and surfing the web on your phone. But come on, torrenting movies over your phone data plan? Really? You think the network can handle that?

    Yeah, McDonald's says "free refills." But I'm pretty sure if you try to hook up a garden hose to the soda fountain and pump gallons of coke into a drum they're going to kindly ask you to leave.

  • by dave562 ( 969951 ) on Wednesday August 13, 2014 @03:50PM (#47665425) Journal

    Where do those who determine what is and is not ethical come down on the issue ISPs who introduce artificial scarcity by refusing to re-invest the revenue that they generate from their customers into infrastructure upgrades that would allow them to support the internet usage habits of ALL of their users?

  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday August 13, 2014 @04:14PM (#47665663)

    T-Mobile is not "introducing artificial scarcity. Comcast is; they refuse to properly provision their network. T-Mobile, on the other hand, can get no more bandwidth. They're putting in cells as fast as they can (I'm enjoying the money, not the weather) but it's not an artificial limitation. What they're doing is applying QoS so that everyone on the cell has a useable connection. Very different than AT&T and Verizon's caps that will apply EVEN IF YOU'RE THE ONLY CUSTOMER ON THE CELL.

  • by Andrio ( 2580551 ) on Wednesday August 13, 2014 @04:21PM (#47665735)

    Most people with "unlimited" data will probably use anywhere between 3-10GB.

    But there are people, on the same unlimited plan, that will use 100 or 200 or more GB a month. Now, since they bought "unlimited" data, this is fine. They're getting what they paid for. Some might argue that they are abusing the service, but that doesn't matter: they bought unlimited data, so they're using it.

    The result is that people who might use less than 10GB of data a month by streaming lots of music and youtube video, are put into the same service tier as people who might basically run torrents on their phone, or even use it as their home broadband, racking up hundreds of GBs of data a month.

    I think part of the problem is that right now the data tiers are silly. Plans basically offer triers that look like this:

    There's this huge spike.

    People who will stream slightly mare than average, and people who intend to use their data for massive broadband demands will have no choice but to go with the unlimited plan. How about some more reasonable tiers? Something like

    I lost track of what my point was supposed to be so I'm going to stop typing now.

  • Re:In before (Score:5, Insightful)

    by TWX ( 665546 ) on Wednesday August 13, 2014 @04:22PM (#47665741)
    This doesn't even stike me as an "Unlimited vs Unmetered", argument, this strikes me as a, "for live, personal, in-person client use vs for server-type or impersonal use" argument.

    Back when I had a cablemodem in 1997, I knew that if I was caught hosting services I could have my service shut off requiring me to sign up for a business-grade account. They weren't terribly picky though, so basically so long as I didn't host a web server on port 80 and didn't have tons of incoming mail on port 25 I was probably alright, and since my connection was never shut off it was indeed alright. Later I had a business-grade DSL line/account with full reverse-resolve and several static IPs, and I could literally do anything that the law didn't prohibit me from doing. I had DNS with reverse resolve, web, mail, FTP, etc, and it was never an issue at all. It cost a little more than a residential account, but not significantly more.
  • by meta-monkey ( 321000 ) on Wednesday August 13, 2014 @05:02PM (#47666117) Journal

    Loading webpages faster? Sure. Loading a video on youtube? Sure. But torrenting (and thereby also uploading) a 1.2GB Blu-ray rip? Come on, man. That's not what cellphone data plans are for and we all know that.

BLISS is ignorance.