back to article Ofcom: T-Mobile probe? Er, not really

T-Mobile's attempt to rein back heavy users of mobile data has put the operator up against the wall, but talk of Ofcom investigations and contract breaches is still premature. Not that T-Mobile will confirm its stance either way, the operator tells us it is still preparing a statement on the matter (and has been for 24 hours …


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  1. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Down

    Time to switch...

    I've got 3 T-Mobile lines and they all are out of the contract tie-in-period.

    In fact, since they have substantually changed the terms, then everyone now is technically out-of-contract.

    Does anyone know of any other providers that don't charge you if you hit or go over their specified (hard or soft) data usage limits?

    1. Mike Brown


      since its an 80% decrease it has to be covered by substantial changes, ergo, all customers that care should now cancel. that will sort them out

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward


        My contract was up for renewal this month. I telephoned them last night to tell them that because of this I wasn't going to renew/upgrade. The very helpful Ian said that because my monthly usage averaged 650Mb plus, they wouldn't really be able to offer me any upgrade.

        My GiffGaff SIM arrives today hopefully.

  2. Anonymous Coward


    Wow, Register! T-Mobile gained a commercial advantage by promising users 1GB or 3GB FUP allowances. It now withdraws them, and fails to tell users or gives inadequate and illegal notice and that's okay? And what are those thousands of bureaucrats at OFCOM doing if they allow T-Mobile to behave in this illegal manner? There are only three networks left after all.

    If I was the CEO at O2 or Vodafone, both of which allowed customers to leave when they changed their T&Cs (Vodafone belatedly, it must be said), I would be pretty angry if Everything Everywhere gets preferential treatment in terms of application of Condition 9.3 of the General Conditions.

  3. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Not exactly cheap either

    I understand that if you use larger amounts of data then you'd need to pay more but T-Mobile aren't the cheapest out there which I've been able to justify because of the FUP. Now that they are aligning themselves with the other operators in terms of FUP then they better do the same with pricing.

    I was very close to upgrading prior to the current contract ending in less than a week, but I won't be doing that now. The question is who do I sign up for now - it certainly won't be Orange nor Vodafone (purely because they've avoided the 6 billion tax bill).

  4. Carol Orlowski

    Cock Up

    This seems a cock up really. T-Mobile offer(ed) the best fair-use policy, and as far as I know, never charged over 3gb. Their T&C allow tethering but don't allow streaming (I don't think any of the operators do).

    The new policy is technically more generous as 3gb -> unlimited and streaming goes from nothing to 500 mb. But it comes across the other way, as a loss of allowance.

    Also, there are conversations with online support saying that the change doesn't apply to Android accounts only to those people paying for the 3gb add-on. But most of the complaints are from Android owners (who haven't had the text about this yet).

    Definitely the first PR cock-up of the year.

  5. Anonymous Coward


    I will of course be expecting an 80% reduction in charges, this is the very least that Ofcom should insist on.

  6. This post has been deleted by its author

  7. Richard Fletcher

    Different usage

    Of course, the simplest way of allowing light users to pay less than heavy users is to have hard caps that cost different amounts. Something along the lins of this: Light user 100MB per month, for £2. Medium 500MB per month for £5. Heavy? 5GB for £10 per month. I mean, it's not hard is it?

  8. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Up

    Didums then?

    Ahh, are we throwing a paddy because those naughty T Mobile baddies don't want us to tie up bandwidth streaming video on our mobile phones then?

    Poor little darlings. We understand that your lives are so shallow that you feel you just have to do this. But you just stop stamping your foot, come out of the corner and take that pout off your face.

    Just you think how much your little peepers will benefit from not having to watch video on that itsy bitsy screen.

    All those other people, yes darling their are other people in the world as well as you, should get a better service as a result.

    1. Anonymous Coward


      Troll much? or completely missing the point. Either way have some consideration for others trying to use the bandwidth you're hogging :)

  9. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    Difficult to support any company springing such a drastic change, but it'll be interesting to see how this all pans out. If one supplier feels it can not support video streaming within their inclusive limit, then surely all suppliers are going to feel the same. There's the rub, one can leave one company in anger only to find a sort while later that you've jumped from the frying pan into the fire.

  10. Will Godfrey Silver badge


    I don't see why anyone is in doubt about this. T-mobile broke their own terms and conditions AND made an unreasonable change, either of which is sufficient to void the contract. There is absolutely no requirement for people to have to 'prove' they needed the bandwidth they signed up for.

    Obligatory car analogy:

    How many people owning BMWs actually drive at 120mph? Would they accept it being regulated down to 50mph on its first service on the basis that the engine management system shows they never went above 40mph?

  11. Chad H.

    On the other hand

    It's good to finally see a mobile network telling the truth about mobile "broadband". It isn't designed for video, or high usage applications; it is not a replacement for home broadband. It's a supplementary Internet service that's more convenient than finding a hotspot.

  12. Jay 28

    it's not just the what, it's the how

    Taking a step back I can understand to some extent the theory of changing limits / limiting by content type...


    a) We should pay if we want an allowance? I thought I was already doing that on my contract (like buying a car and driving for a while only to be told that an engine isn't a "core service" [hey, I could always 'Flintstone' it right?] and now I should pay extra for one...)

    b) If this was for new or renewal customers it wouldn't be good but at least then you have the facts and option not to sign. Doing this in the middle of a contract is just unacceptable - why not offer a "downgrade" (to a cheaper package?) instead? Oh wait, that wouldn't make as much money.

    c) They're doing this without the notice they themselves stipulate in the t&cs.

    d) they're still advertising and selling on old limits misleading customers (bait and switch)

    If they really *have* to reduce limits there are many better ways of doing it... but of course the customer doesn't matter...

  13. Peter Boughton

    web browsing - unlimited, but crippled

    Whilst they claim "your phone service is best used for browsing which means looking at your favorite websites" this does not mention that they have several over-aggressive proxies which break many sites.

    First up is the forced caching - by inserting/modifying HTTP headers with a false Cached Until value, so when visiting dynamic sites you have to force-reload to get the correct page (this includes discussion forums and the Facebook notifications area).

    Then there's the image corruption - extreme compression which makes photos look disgusting, causes gradients to be ugly bars, sometimes breaks transparency on gif/png, and generally makes websites look cheap and tacky.

    The same thing that compresses the images inserts crappy JavaScript which requires a Ctrl-A to load the real images - except on a mobile there is no Ctrl-A, and on a PC the Ctrl-A often doesn't work, and sometimes it fires when typing a capital A (meaning all the compressed images dissappear until the new ones have loaded).

    Then there's their attempt to reduce HTTP requests by taking all JS and CSS scripts, mindlessly stripping whitespace, and inserting the results into the HTML page - nevermind that these scripts might be static (and cached) when the page itself is dynamic. Or that this often breaks something and causes pages to be unstyled or partially styled, and thus unreadable.

    *** Even people that can survive with less than 500MB a month should not use T-Mobile. ***

  14. Pete 2 Silver badge

    Ofcom: the ideal watchdog

    It just watches.

    Occasionally it may wander up to a mobile operator, but all it does is sniffs their crotch. After that it just returns to its nice warm basket and goes back to sleep.

    1. Anonymous Coward

      ofcom waste of money

      did you not know that their associates travel to international radio conventions such as ITU, in fancy places like Geneva, staying in five star hotels, eating the top notch food and drinks......generally having the best jollies of their lives with their equivalents from other countries. in this financial climate they should not be allowed to get away with this

      they should video conference and bring their own packed lunch instead

      what a waste of money ofcom are

    2. Anonymous Coward

      Which is the biggest waste of space, Ofcom or T-Mobile?

      Tough call.

  15. John Hadfield

    Fair Dos

    I'm happy for T-Mobile to tweak away to their little hearts content with deals, policies and the rest. Just don't expect to be able to do it to those customers TIED-IN for TWO YEARS.

    I expect T-Mobile wouldn't be happy if I said from the first of next month I was deciding to not to pay for MMS's. Well after all I don't really use them much - I only send a couple a month so it's not really detrimental to T-Mobile is it?

    Have shorter contractual periods and phase it OPENLY in to those as they expire/renew.


    I haven't been informed yet, but as soon as I do I'll be speaking strongly with them about the situation. I don't want to break my contract I just want what I was PROMISED.

  16. Pypes
    Thumb Down


    Won't do a bloody thing, never have done and never will do when it comes to dealing with big business. Especially not when they are about to flog off a huge chunk of spectrum to the mobile industry.

  17. Gordon861

    T-Mobile Don't Have a Clue

    Copy of post made elsewhere for information


    Still no notice of changes here.

    Just got off the phone with OFCOM and put in my complaint.

    OFCOM phone number is : 0300 123 3333 or 020 7981 3040

    Call them and tell them why the changes will be of 'material detriment' to you too.

    My argument was that as I currently use about 1.2GB of internet per month (which is steadily increasing) my phone will stop accepting data after about 2 weeks into the month, which will basically stop most of it from working. The only way I could continue to have a fully functioning phone would be to sign up to the new booster which gives you a 3GB FUP if you pay £10.64. This would mean an increase in my bill of over 40% which is unacceptable.

    As I still haven't been given notice of these changes T-Mobile are also in breach of the OFCOM General Condition 9.3 which requires 30days notice of any change.

    OFCOM General Conditions url=]

    I also asked about if I am allowed to demand my PAK code and then cancel my Direct Debit in order to stop them taking out the £370 cancellation fee as I feel the fee is in dispute, and was told that I would be within my rights to with hold the monies whilst the dispute is dele with.

    When I spoke to T-Mobile cancellations department this morning the guy on the other end had heard nothing about this change and thought I was just 'going from rumors' as an 'Android phone needs much more than 500mb data'. When he spoke to his boss he came back he still couldn't believe it. He also said that the Android phones will be going down to 1.5GB rather than 0.5GB (first time I've heard that one), but I told him that I still wasn't satisfied. He also couldn't supply that in writing, it was just 'what the manager said'.

    I was told that if I wanted to complain I should email as they didn't give out a postal address, but Companies House gives you:




    AL10 9BW

    Company No. 04347402






    AL10 9BW

    Company No. 02382161

    OFCOM also suggest that you send in these sort of letters by post (recorded etc) instead of email.

    My plan now is to write to them explaining that as the new changes are of 'material detriment' to me I therefore reject these new changes and demand my PAK code by XXXX, or an agreement to maintain my 3GB data limit for the duration of my contract with them.

    I wonder if it is also worth adding that if I do need to change suppliers I will be holding them responsible for any increased costs that may be charged until April 2011 (when my contract ends).

    Considering that I'm paying T-Mobile £25 per month right now and the 'three' unlimited dataplan is £35, it would only be fair to take T-Mobile to the Small Claims Court for the extra £140.

  18. NX1977

    welcome to the party el reg

    where've you been since this kicked off Monday?

    T-mobile have admitted to one cust on money saving expert forums that they've breached contract by not contacting everyone, and giving less than 30days notice.

    That's my ticket out, regardless of my usage or if the fup applies to me. They breached my contracts, and are thus voiding it. Which is what my cancellation letter will say....

  19. Ripperroo

    about to ramp up my internet usage - T-mobiles answer

    this was my argument when i phoned them yesterday evening, summers near and I spend most of it away from home at festivals sometimes not coming home for a month at a time, I explained this to them and they offered me £5 a month off my £25 contract for the remainder of my tie in period (about 18 months).

  20. Bob Terwilliger

    Have fun in your own time, not my time

    Contract finishes at month end but I'm not renewing due to the crass, schoolteacherish bollix of "If you want to download, stream and watch video clips, save that stuff for your home broadband."

    emm, how about just giving me the data and I'll decide how I want to use it?

  21. simon newton

    thank feck

    My contract ran out last month. I called retentions and sure enough - nothing they can do about the 500mb FUP, everyones got it and they seem a little pissed off about the fact ("caught them unawares" was one quote). The guy on the phone said it was because of the orange merger. He also said not many people are calling up to cancel, yet he seemed to have a very scripted response to the 'cancel over your FUP change' request, one that I could hear all the other (busy) agents around him repeating!

    I told them im offski over this but am still searching for a new provider. They gave me £10 off per month until I find a new provider (and confirmed via text that this would not extend my contract in any way). It'll do till I do my research and decide what phone to get from three.

  22. Jay 28

    Shifting goalposts?

    I note on it has now been rumoured that they'll delay the change until 1st March to be able to give 30 days notice...


    1. Gordon861

      Should Help Cancellations

      If they change the implimentation date to 1st March that will mean that they are admitting that the change is classed as a change that requires the 30 day notice.

      In which case, they leave themselves open to people using that period to get out if they can show that they have been affected detramentally.

      The more they wriggle, the more they tie themselves in knots.

  23. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Down


    Of course, if it turned out that all of the network providers had reduced their "Fair Usage" amounts at the same time, then that would appear to be a strong pointer to market manipulation and illegal practices.

    I believe the fine for conviction on this is (up to) 10% of a Company's Annual Turnover.

    Now that would be one good way to help reduce the Government's Budget Deficit without having to put up taxes...

  24. TimS

    Thanks Gordon861

    Have just called - was told that in my contract there is a part which allows them to modify the allowance, price and pretty much anything as long as they give me 30 days notice. Will be looking later as just got my phone and have left vodafgne just to get the 1gb!

    Gordon861 - will be using that info.

  25. Gordon861

    T-Mobile Backed Down

    T-Mobile Statement:

    “On Monday 10 January 2011 we announced that, in line with the rest of the industry, T-Mobile would be reducing its Fair Use Policy for data usage to 500MB a month for all mobile phone customers. Following a further review of our policy, these changes will now be introduced from 1 February, to new and upgrading customers only - not existing customers.

    There will be no change to the data packages for existing customers for the duration of their contract and we apologise for any confusion caused. The revision to the Fair Use Policy is designed to ensure an improved quality of service for all mobile internet users."

    Lysa Hardy, VP, T-Mobile UK

    Information on new data policy:

    From 1 February 2011 new and upgrading customers will be given a monthly 500MB data allowance. There will be no charge for those customers exceeding that limit, and those who do will still be able to access important services such as email and web browsing, however file downloading and streaming services will be restricted. Customers will then have the option to increase their monthly Fair Use Policy to 1GB a month by purchasing a Mobile Broadband Booster. This will ensure an improved quality of service for all of our mobile internet users.

    1. Cowardly Animosity



      That is all.

      1. Jay 28

        Years to build good reputation...

        ...seconds to destroy it.

        If they've backed down (under cover of "oh, no no no, that's what we meant all along... we just, um, misspoke...") then that's welcome news for us existing customers.

        However, to my mind the damage is done. Once my contract is up I'll be gone from T-mobile never to return. Somehow doubt I'm going to be the only one.

        T'orange... welcome to the black list

        Just hope they don't try to sneak this in again along the way (and remember to actually give 30 days notice...) until my term is up.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      1st February?

      So anyone thinking of joining T-Mobile should do so before 1st February to receive the old allowance ?

  26. Callum

    there's a way to get around this

    switch your plan to a "Mobile Broadband plus" and it will retain either 3Gb or 10Gb per month fair usage. I switched to this for my Huawei USB sticks used as backups in our Draytek Vigor routers and for one of the laptops.

    This FUP is only for the phone plans but the Mobile Broadband plus plan still allows unlimited texting and voice calls. For me, it costs GBP25 per month but that's on month 21 of a 24 month deal so it may be cheaper for you.

  27. Anonymous Coward
    Paris Hilton

    wasnt surprised

    To see the statement there about honouring existing data plans - but what alot of shouting they have caused

    The conspiracist in me says that this might have been done to highlight the continued great service you existing customers will still be getting

  28. AdamWill

    Pots? what a load of nonsense

    "T-Mobile's idea is to start differentiating by content type – video streaming and file downloading comes from one pot, while web browsing and email comes from another (never-empty) pot. The former has a fair-use limit of 500MB under the new rules, the latter is unlimited, and the idea is to stop the light data users from subsidising those who want to stream media all day."

    Sorry, but you can't give them a free pass on that (and you shouldn't have authors with their own crackpot theories - see all Bill's posts on mobile data, ever - writing news articles on hot topics, Reg). There are no 'pots'. There is not a 'web browsing' pot and a 'video streaming' pot. It's just data. It's just a freaking pipe.

    If they want to limit data use to 500MB a month, fine. That's their prerogative, it's their service, they can offer it however they like. (Of course, if they're going to drastically downgrade the service they're offering, as they have, then they're subject to all the perfectly legitimate complaints posted by other commenters). But all this hand-wavy nonsense about 'pots' is bullshit. Someone who downloads a 10MB video is not a heavier user than someone who downloads 100 100KB HTML pages. Data is data. Just stop talking about it: it's complete crap.

    Hell, isn't there another current debate right in this here site about the <video> tag in HTML 5? Which...well...adds video streaming to the HTML standard? Be interesting to know how T-Mobile classes use of that...

    "And there are many of them: applications such as Orb will stream your audio/video collection to your mobile, consuming massive quantities of bandwidth for the delivery of the X Factor's finest, and those listening don't see any reason why they should pay more than someone who checks their email twice a day."

    This is sheer misrepresentation. See the comments. No-one, but no-one, reckoned they should be allowed unlimited data use. They all complained about the utterly bungled drastic reduction in the service they are currently offered. Please stop with the straw men.

  29. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Up

    At least they don't charge

    Ok plenty of T-Mobile bashing going on and if they were going to apply this to existing customers then rightly so....BUT lets not forget that this is a fair use policy and if they have decided that with all the streaming apps out there now that they need to aline themselves with other operators then so be it . Also most importantly they restrict rather than CHARGE anyone that has ever gone over their allowance on other networks like BT home BB will tell you what a bonus that can be.

  30. Robert Carnegie Silver badge

    I have a 3G data dongle from Three. 15 GB monthly, £15. Dunno if you get that now though.

    3G communications ARE for high volume and streaming! That's the point of it! (Not if everybody does it at the same time, though.)

    I have a Huawei mi-fi blob, up to five PC and personal device connections allowed. I think I've had three at once.

    I'd have got a phone that does it if there was a contract that did that plus phone. I suppose I could look at phones that can take two SIMs, but use only one at a time.

    As for T-Mobile, how is what was "fair" in 2010 not "fair" in 2011? So that what was at the limit before is now six times over it? Did most of their radio masts get wrecked in the recent blast of snow and ice and terrible cold, that's the only way I see it.

    If "The Parable of the Vineyard" had gone that way then the vineyard owner would have been lynched.

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