I have been De-Prioritized on the T-Mobile network despite the Network/Towers NOT being congested.
I've been informed that this is due to the amount of Data that I have used this billing cycle, however after reviewing all of the sources I was asked to review, I have come the conclusion that T-Mobile is in violation of their Terms and Conditions and Fair Use Policy as De-Prioritization is contingent upon Network and/or Tower Congestion.
My Goal: To get in contact with Senior staff (above management) to have this addressed, and to inform the public that T-Mobiles current Private Policy to deliberately an knowingly throttle high usage customers even when and where it is NOT contractually warranted and/or allowed. After several attempts, Management from multiple departments was unwilling (possibly unable) to state that De-Prioritization is contingent upon Network Congestion. I specifically asked them to recite that part of the conditions, and they simply would not. However they were more then happy to repeat the line
"You've used over 50 GB this month, that is your limit. Fair use, we De-Prioritize after 50 GB".
Again, despite asking multiple managers, multiples T Mobile "Experts" and multiple customer care reps, they would NOT repeat the part of the conditions that referenced network congestion as the requirement for De-Prioritization.
HOWEVER... I did get two Technical Supervisors to finally read the actual documentation, and both agreed that I was correct about my observations. Both forwarded my information, and both got the same half answer.
So it has become painfully obvious to me that of the customer support reps I am able to contact, none of them are actually able to accurately or properly address my issue. Even management admitted they don't have the tools and all they could do was read what they were told to read me, and "just being honest" that's all they were allowed to say.
With this being said, I'm looking to get in touch with people of actual authority and/or tools that are actually in a position to make an adjustment to my account regarding this status. i.e How do I get in touch with the Engineers? Senior Engineers, Senior Customer Care (above management).
PLEASE... READ THIS FOR YOURSELF BEFORE DEVELOPING ANY CONCLUSIONS. T-MOBILE STAFF HAS BEEN TOLD TO IGNORE THE CONDITION OF TOWER/NETWORK CONGESTION, AND TO FALSELY REPRESENT THE 50 GB AS A HARD LIMIT -- ENABLING THEM TO USE DE-PRIORITIZATION TO THROTTLE. MAKE NO MISTAKE, DE-PRIORITIZATION IS THROTTLING.
Here is excerpts from the Terms and Conditions, T-Mobile Q & A about said topic, Open Internet Policy, and T-Mobiles Fair Use Policy. Important information will be underlined and highlighted in Red:
From T-Mobile Terms and Conditions as of August 10, 2018
WHERE, HOW, AND WHEN DOES MY SERVICE WORK?
These T&Cs describe the experience you can expect on our network, including information about our reasonable network management practices, and the experience on our roaming partners’ networks:
- Please check our coverage maps, which approximate our anticipated coverage area outdoors. Your experience on our network may vary and change without notice depending on a variety of factors. For more information, click here. You agree that we are not liable for problems relating to Service availability or quality.
- For more information about roaming, click here.
- To provide the best possible experience for the most possible customers on T-Mobile branded plans, we prioritize the data usage of a small percentage of our heavy data users, specifically those using more than 50GB of data in a billing cycle below that of other customers. This threshold number applies to all rate plans, is periodically evaluated, and may change over time. We also prioritize the data of customers who choose certain rate plans after the data for other T-Mobile branded rate plans, but before customers using more than 50GB of data in a billing cycle. Customers whose data is prioritized lower may notice speeds lower than customers with higher priority in times and locations where there are competing customer demands for network resources. See your selected service or visit our Open Internet page at the link below for details. We prioritize smartphone and mobile internet (tablet) over Smartphone Mobile HotSpot (tethering) traffic on our network. Click here for more information.
- We utilize streaming video optimization technology in our network on qualifying Rate Plans to help minimize data consumption while also improving the service experience for all customers. Some Rate Plans have video optimization via the Binge On feature. Some qualifying video providers may choose to opt-out of the Binge On program. For a list of opt-out providers visit http://www.t-mobile.com/offer/binge-on-streaming-video.html#. The Binge On optimization technology is not applied to the video services of these providers; video from these services will stream at native resolution, and high-speed data consumption will continue as if Binge On were not enabled.
- Additionally, we may implement other network practices, such as caching less data.
- Our Open Internet Policy includes important information on these topics as well as information on commercial terms, performance characteristics (such as expected speed, latency and network practices).
Here is from T-Mobile Website, where Q & A clearly covers this very some topic, and even more clearly summarizes the use of these policies, as per officilay stated by T-Mobile:
It looks like you’ve used 48GB or more of data overall in this bill cycle. After 50GB, you still get unlimited LTE data but may at times notice reduced speeds in areas with network congestion.
In the vast majority of times and places, you will notice little if any difference. In the small number of times or locations where there’s network congestion, you may notice reduced data speeds. This experience is due to our data prioritization practice, which prioritizes customers who use more than 50GB of data in a single bill cycle after other customers. This practice helps to optimize overall network performance and maintain a quality service experience for as many customers as possible. Your data usage resets at the beginning of your next billing cycle, so this practice will only apply until that time.
Here is T-Mobiles Open Internet Policy, another piece of information they asked me to review, where again it clearly states:
What speeds and performance can T-Mobile-branded Broadband Internet Access Services customers expect? Where are these speeds available?
Many factors affect the speed and performance that customers experience, including the programs running on the device, proximity to a cell site, the capacity of the cell site, the surrounding terrain, use inside a building or moving vehicle, radio frequency interference, how many other customers are attempting to use the same spectrum resources, the high-speed data allotment, network prioritization, and other features of your data plan, whether you are using Smartphone Mobile HotSpot (tethering) or are a heavy data user, using more than 50GB (updated periodically) of data in a billing cycle. In addition, many of our plans use video streaming optimization when connected to the cellular network to deliver a DVD quality (typically 480p) video experience at up to 1.5Mbps with minimal buffering while streaming. T-Mobile optimizes data streams that are identified by our packet-core network as video; video providers may also choose to establish protocols to self-optimize their video. Customers may choose a plan where this feature is always enabled (T-MobileONE), with the option to add a feature to enable HD video streaming in the U.S. Customers on certain Simple Choice plans may have video optimization as a customer-controlled feature that can be disabled or enabled at any time (“Binge On”). Qualifying video providers may choose to opt-out of the Binge On program, see listing. The Binge On optimization technology is not applied to the video services of these providers; video from their services will stream at native resolution, and high-speed data consumption will continue as if Binge On were not enabled.
Also, as discussed below, T-Mobile-branded plans except T-Mobile Essentials are prioritized before the data of customers on non-T-Mobile-branded services such as MetroPCS. We also use a smaller data threshold to determine heavy data usage for non-T-Mobile-branded services than for T-Mobile branded services. The vast majority of customers on T-Mobile-branded and non-T-Mobile-branded plans receive higher priority than the small fraction of customers who have exceeded the “heavy user” threshold, currently 50GB for T-Mobile-branded services, in a billing cycle. T-Mobile customers may notice reduced speeds in comparison to customers with a higher priority during network congestion. For speed and performance information for non-T-Mobile branded customers, see your brand’s network information/Open Internet page for details. For more information regarding prioritization, see the discussion below in How does T-Mobile address network priority for its plans and brands?.
Network management for extremely high data usage and tethering
Some of our plan options feature a customer-chosen high-speed data allotment with reduced speeds on our network after the high-speed allotment is exhausted, so customers can choose the combination of high-speed data and price that is right for their needs. Unlimited high-speed data customers, such as T-Mobile ONE customers, do not have a specific high-speed data allotment on their device, however, and customers on limited high-speed plans may have extremely high data usage under certain circumstances, including if they access significant amounts of data that does not count against their high-speed data allotment. Some network management for these scenarios for all plans is required, because very heavy data usage by even a few customers at times and places of competing network demands can affect the network performance for all customers.
To provide the best possible experience for the most possible customers on T-Mobile-branded plans, and to minimize capacity issues and degradation in network performance, we manage significant high-speed data usage through prioritization. Heavy data users, specifically those who use more than 50GB of data in a billing cycle, 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. This threshold number is periodically evaluated and may change over time. 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. 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 count towards all customers’ usage for this calculation. Smartphone Mobile HotSpot (tethering) data is also included in 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. To help avoid application of this practice, and reduce mobile data consumption, customers can set automatic updating of apps, podcasts and file downloads to run off Wi-Fi (making sure to connect to Wi-Fi to update applications and system periodically).
And here is an excerpt concerning Fair Usage Policy
T‑Mobile Fair Usage commitment
The T Mobile Fair Usage commitment is how we ensure that the highest number of customers have the best possible experience for the most common uses on our network. To ensure that smartphones and tablets have fair access to the network, we will monitor mobile hotspot/tethering usage on a regular basis to ensure that mobile hotspot usage is both reasonable and fair. T Mobile service is designed to be used primarily on smartphones and tablets. T Mobile mobile hotspot features are intended for personal mobile connectivity, not intended to be a complete broadband replacement for multiple users over an extended period of time. If you are a heavy data user, specifically those using more than 50GB (updated periodically) of data in a month, and use a device as a mobile hotspot for the majority of your use over an extended period of time – we may contact you to discuss your plan and your options.
Thanks for any and all of your time!
A (soon not to be) T-Mobile Customer
Best answer by jonjon0
First of all, thanks for taking time to respond.
I've received verbal confirmation from multiple Supervisors and Managers that I was intentionally being De-Prioritized. I've contacted the Tech department multiple times over the last 3 days to confirm tower status. I've run multiple client side tests at different times of the day to confirm speeds, etc. Not to mention the laundry list of troubleshoots I had to navigate through before T-Mobile would acknowledge it was on their end.
In summary, I know the cause as a result of 6+ Hours on the phone with 9 Different personnel from at least 4 different departments.
BUT... I'll most likely be noting this as resolved as a result of a conversation I had today with a Team Member of the Executive Vice-President of T-Mobiles Customer Care. Fortunately this nice Lady went above and beyond to correspond with the Legal Department and other Senior Investigative teams falling under T-Mobiles umbrella.
The way I understand it is that T-Mobile has to "borrow" space where I am because this is not one of their settled locations (nearest store is 100 miles away). So they're not actually able to accurately tell me the status of the towers, even though they can look them up. The actual status is dictated by the Towers owner. I think what it comes down to here is T-Mobiles hands are tied on this one. I think they'd remove the De-Prioritization status if I were on their actual towers, but since I'm technically on borrowed space, they have to relinquish priority to the tower owner, and whatever their rules and regulations are.
Technically NO, I shouldn't be experiencing De-prioritization if the towers/network are not being reported as congested, but regardless... It cannot be helped until the next billing cycle.
Admittedly I assumed they were scheming against high data users. Further investigation has revealed that it's literally a result of my location. There isn't anything special about where I live, it's rural Kansas after all (one of, if not the flattest state), so topography isn't an issue either. Moreover, it's particularity unique to the city I'm in now, as if I go 25 Miles south to the previous town I lived in, there is no interference with my data usage at all, regardless of how much I use(d).
It doesn't change that De-Prioritzation is being used to throttle my data usage, and I strongly believe they need to further clarify how all of this actually works in the Terms & Conditions, but there is quite literally nothing that can be done about it without hacking my phone and the towers.
On to you now -- How often do you exceed the 50 GB threshold? How far are you from a T-Mobile store? How often do you use the Wifi-Hotspot as an internet replacement?
I've been breaking that threshold every month for at least the last 6 months, specifically while using the Wifi-Hotspot. Another part of my suspicions were that it wasn't just how much data, but how that data was being consumed and through what means. In my conversation with the EVP's Staff, she made it clear that T-Mobile really doesn't have the infrastructure to be used like home internet. This is an approximation of how I was using my phone, and T-Mobile has "technical algorithms" in place which independently monitor the traffic of each user so that user traffic can be categorized. Fall into the category of "Heavy-Data User" (which isn't a label you get in one month), and you fall into a unique category where the rules technically change for just such a user. When you get to this level, it's no longer just a corporate matter, you're dealing with regulations handed down by the FCC.