Tuesday, December 2, 2014

T-Mobile US Agrees to More Transparency on Data Speeds

T-Mobile US has agreed with the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to provide customers with more accurate information about their mobile internet speeds. T-Mobile will send text messages to customers providing them with easier access to speed information, will place direct links to accurate speed tests on customer handsets and will revamp its website disclosures to provide clearer information about the speeds that users actually experience. In particular, the operator will send users who have hit their monthly data caps a text message linking to a speed test that shows their actual, throttled speed. In the existing system, if those users run speed tests, they receive information about T-Mobile’s full network speed. The operator has agreed to complete the rectification process within 60 days.

The U.S. regulatory climate with regard to throttling is turning increasingly inclement. Last month the Federal Trade Commission filed a complaint in federal court against AT&T in connection with throttling and the disclosures relating to throttling. Since this summer, the FCC has also been scrutinizing the practice. Chairman Tom Wheeler sent letters on the subject to the four major operators, Verizon Wireless, AT&T, Sprint and T-Mobile US. Last month, Verizon Wireless announced that it had canceled its plan to institute speed reductions for 4G customers on unlimited plans. Now T-Mobile has agreed, if not to scale back throttling then at least to make more accurate information about it available to its customers. If the FTC, for one, gets its way, throttling will eventually be abolished. But as long as the practice continues, it appears that at least customers will be more fully informed about it, and therefore be better able to make informed decisions as to whether they want to subscribe to services that feature it.
Beyond the specific issue of data-cap throttling, we believe that making speed test results easily available to customers is a good practice for mobile operators, insofar as high speed is increasingly in demand and customers are becoming more savvy on the subject. Of course, that puts some pressure on the operators—if they are going to make test results available, the results will need to measure up to expectations.

The above item appeared in a recent issue of The Tarifica Alert, a weekly resource that analyzes noteworthy developments in the telecoms industry from around the world. To access all of the latest articles and issues or to speak with the research team:

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