back to article T-Mobile UK ordered into humiliating Full Monty strip

T-Mobile UK can no longer describe its "Full Monty" mobile broadband tariff as "unlimited", thanks to a ruling by the advertising watchdog. And all because the network operator slowed down BitTorrent traffic during the day. The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) has decreed that "unlimited" can legitimately be applied to …


This topic is closed for new posts.
  1. Vimes

    we'll keep arguing about what exactly the U word means.



    1. not limited; unrestricted; unconfined: unlimited trade.

    2. boundless; infinite; vast: the unlimited skies.

    3. without any qualification or exception; unconditional.

    Seems fairly straight forward to me...

    1. Vimes

      Incidentally shouldn't that last sentence read 'arguing about what exactly they want the U word to mean'?

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward


        "The U word has been widely debated before: companies are keen to slide small print under every occurrence as genuinely unlimited internet access would be irresistible to the spammers, scammers, crackers and crooks for whom the ISP is a barrier to their business of choice."

        Rubbish! I'm currently in a European country where i get unlimited ADSL. I also get a consistent 25Mb/s all day, everyday. It is clearly possible and it is clearly not that expensive otherwise this wouldn't be possible where I am now.

        I'm often copying data to and from the data centre 24 hours a day and I've never seen any throttling. I paid a one off €50 to get it.

    2. Mage Silver badge


      Ban the Unlimited word. No domestic service is "unlimited"

      Ban Mobile operator describing their service as Broadband. It's not and even 4G will never be broadband. It's Internet Access.

      Must list average and worst 20% users peak usage time speeds and 3AM speeds.

      The ASA is too soft as is Ofcom.

      All Mobile and Fixed Broadband is dishonestly marketed.

      Satellite Internet is even worse for lies.

      Everything that isn't dialup isn't automatically Broadband.

      Broadband has

      Always on (Mobile is connect on demand and can drop connections with no change in signal if people nearer mast connects or more voice call capacity is needed)

      Low Latency (Mobile can be low, but can be over 500ms, Satellite is 550ms approx MINIMUM)

      Minimum download speed about x10 faster than dual channel ISDN. Mobile can be easily slower than 128kbps

      No non-transparent proxy. Mobile also often uses a Proxy with 1000s of people on same IP at same time

      Supports Native TCP/IP. Satellite doesn't.

      Supports any service such as VPN (Satellite only supports a VPN if the ISP implements it for you at their earth station).

      1. Miffo

        Re: Simple

        @Mage - interesting definition of Broadband! I remember being told it just used a wider frequency range which would allow the normal voice signal to go down the wire as well as the data. So you could call something broadband which was actually slower than dial-up. I think you're just describing a level of service for your internet access rather than defining the term "broadband".

        1. Roland6 Silver badge

          Re: Simple

          I suspect that "Broadband" has become the generic marketing term for the client connection to WAN/Internet services, in the same way that "Ethernet" became the generic marketing term for LAN.

          1. Boothy

            Re: Simple

            My first broadband connection was 128kbs, which at the time seemed massively faster than the dial-up I used to use, which typically capped out at a somewhat unstable 30-35kbs or so.

            Just because new broadband connections are faster than that, doesn't stop the definition still fitting the older/slower connections.

            As long as it's always on, and I'd say arguably faster than dial-up, it's broadband.

            And I suggest you change phone or network provider if your data keeps failing on your phone. mine with only rare exception, always has a data connection. Plus 3G and of course now 4G, is still faster than many current cheaper fixed line broadband options, so yes, I'd consider 3G and 4 as broadband as well these days.

            1. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Re: Simple

              Thought the original broadband was 256kbs .... before that you either had a dial-up modem that might be advertised as 56kbs but normally connected at the 30-40kbs you mention. You could get ISDN installed which gave you 64kbs or 128kbs if you used both avaialble channels (and I assume paid twice as much for the call). I remember semi-seriously thinking about ISDN before cable broadband arrived and I was blown away by the speed of a 256kbs connection (remember downloading latest netscape version and sitting there watching as the dowloading bar was moving visibly to the right rather than having to press "download" and then go an make a cup of coffee and come back 10 mins later when it was finished as was the case with dialup!

              1. Blitterbug

                Re: Simple

                @AC 12:58 Exactly. Technically, broadband may very well refer to the ability to mux voice & data, *but* (as often happens in technology) the term has evolved. It is generally accepted these days to mean 'the next step beyond dual-ISDN'. In fact I seem to remember Tiscali offering a 128kbps service a few yearsa back that they termed 'midband', as they knew damned well it would have been taking the piss to badge it up as 'broadband'. But then, waddoo I know.

            2. h3

              Re: Simple

              Not true it could be baseband. (Works if you are on the same exchange as somewhere else i.e your office or your datacentre.) Think BT purposefully breaks baseband over a jumped point to point line which used to be more common. (I had 8Mb both ways baseband in 2000).

          2. Oninoshiko

            Ethernet does not mean LAN

            NOONE describes all networks as "ethernet." Ethernet networks are ethernet. Token Ring networks are token ring. It just happens that the vast majority of LANs actually ARE ethernet.

            If you happen to come across a token ring network (and if you do, can I barrow your flux capacitor, mine's shot), I'm fairly sure the users of it will not call it ethernet.

        2. Mage Silver badge

          Re: Simple

          "So you could call something broadband which was actually slower than dial-up. "

          No Absolutely not.

          10x dual channel ISDN is 1.28 Mbps. Pretty slow, but minimum broadband. Mobile's minimum speed is about 120k bps. That's slower than dual channel ISDN dialup.

          Mobile isn't Broadband and never will be.

          Fast Broadband is more than 25Mbps, ideally 100Mbps +

  2. djstardust

    Joined up government?

    So two Quangos (or whatever they're called these days) have differing opinions.

    Offcom have consistently proven they're on the side of business (even though they are supposed to protect the consumer) where the ASA are showing some teeth.

    Just another example of the corporate mind these companies work under. Tell the customer what they'll get, tie them in to a 24 month contract then move the goalposts. Rip-off Britain at it's best.

  3. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Blocking access to Remote SMTP servers?

    Only there to force you to use their crappy email system.

    I have my own SMTP server as well as some domains that use email that are hosted by a non ISP. If the 3g carrier are going to block access to MY email then all I can say is


    (my current 3g carrier does allow me to get to my email server but not directly. They publish the method on their website so I'm happy with that.)

    1. Neill Mitchell

      Re: Blocking access to Remote SMTP servers?

      This is a joke. I bought a MiFi dongle from 3 and discovered that I couldn't send emails to my SMTP server. I had even specifically asked in the shop whether it was possible and was told that it was.

      After a very protracted process of actually getting to speak to someone, they informed me that SMTP was blocked to stop spammers sending thousands of emails via the dongle. I can't think of a more expensive method of sending spam. Utter bollocks. The only way to send email was via their SMTP relay service, which is completely unreliable and also often triggers the recipients spam filtering. It also means they expect you to change the SMTP settings on your phone each time you switch from using their MiFi device to WiFi etc.

      When they realised they were clearly on the losing side of the discussion, they then pointed out that on the box that it said you can "read emails", but sending them is not listed. Based on this they initially refused a return. Honestly, can you believe such bollocks even being suggested? Christ what a crappy world of spin we live in.

      Upshot is I eventually managed to ditch the 3 dongle and bought an unlocked version of the same one and lived happily ever after with Orange. Well, so far...

      1. zaax

        Re: Blocking access to Remote SMTP servers?

        I hope you got your money back +10%

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: @Neill Mitchell

        Interesting, I am on 3 for my mobile contract, and I often send emails using my phone and my own SMTP server..

        Maybe your trying to use an un-authenticated & unencrypted method? you should always use authentication and SSL encryption on outgoing emails...

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: @Neill Mitchell

          AC @ 10:28

          +1, this is exactly what I do and it works fine, incidentally I do it because my network provider's server requires me to be on their network to send an email via it (not on wwifi) otherwise I wouldnt even allow out a relay outside a private network!

          @Neill Mitchell and if its the specific dport your going too they are blocking just make your SMTP server accepts SMTP connections on another port as if its encrypted they are not going to know its SMTP traffic anyway.

      3. Roland6 Silver badge

        Re: Blocking access to Remote SMTP servers?

        I have no problem accessing my email providers servers over Three's various mobile broadband services; but then my provider provide SSL/TLS connectivity on port 587.

        However, not all mail providers support use of ports other than 25 hence making their servers inaccessible from the majority of third-party networks (such as Three). For example allow remote POP3 read access, but SMTP send access can only be achieved by clients directly attached to their ISP network...

        Aside: initially Three did not block port 25, but started blocking it sometime during 2009.

        Also the use of SMTP relay servers (such as Three's) should be avoided, as although it is supported by SMTP, many providers discard emails received via this method as it is a know way of generating spam that claims to originate from your account.

      4. Jess--

        Re: Blocking access to Remote SMTP servers?

        since I run my own smtp server I just told the server to listen for connections on an extra (non standard) port, using this port has successfully bypassed the smtp blocks imposed by every mobile operator I have come across

        1. frank ly

          Re: Blocking access to Remote SMTP servers?

          Do 'professional' spammers know about this? Or do they use the cheaper connectivity services?

      5. An0n C0w4rd

        Re: Blocking access to Remote SMTP servers?

        @Neill Mitchell

        Your "I can't think of a more expensive method of sending spam." comment implies that the spammers would sign up for mobile service and use it to send spam. You miss the point of these blocks. Very few, if any, spammers use their OWN link and haven't for years.

        The block on port 25 outbound is because of botnets and trojaned PCs (and I guess smartphones and fondleslabs at this point too, although it is still mostly PCs)

        Also, TECHNICALLY, you should NEVER send e-mail over TCP port 25 from anything other than another MTA. MUAs (i.e. outlook, thunderbird,, etc) should use TCP port 587 (submission). If your SMTP server isn't listening on port 25 then it's your own problem.

        (I haven't read the RFCs recently, but there is also TCP/465 (smtps). However I can't remember if its for MUAs or MTAs)

    2. This post has been deleted by its author

  4. Annihilator

    Wait, what?

    So you can cap all traffic and call it "unlimited" but you can't cap *some* traffic and call it "unlimited"? The world's gone mad...

    As for SMTP, they usually just block port 25 in an attempt to stop you running your own mail server. 587 usually works just fine.

    1. Fuzz

      Re: Wait, what?

      blocking port 25 should be done by all consumer ISPs. If you want to use port 25 then that should be possible if you can prove you're not relaying spam.

      If you run your own SMTP server for clients to connect you should be running it on a different port over SSL with auth.

      The reason for blocking port 25 is to stop spam bots from sending emails.

      If you don't know this stuff you shouldn't be running an SMTP server.

    2. Kevin Johnston

      Re: Wait, what?

      response from ASA when I com,plained about there assumption we would all accept some limitations included .....

      services featuring provider-imposed limitations that involve charging or suspension of service for usage that is considered excessive should not be described as “unlimited”

  5. This post has been deleted by its author

  6. This post has been deleted by its author

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: same with BT

      Interesting, since I am with BT and I don't ever have issues with bittorrent speeds... not that I use it THAT often...

      I know their newest packages are different, and have no limits, yet older packages do...

      1. JetSetJim

        Re: same with BT

        I'm with BT on their 40GB/mo and bittorrent does indeed drop like a stone during the day. Yet, peculiarly, I can download patches/watch streaming high def/etc at much better rates,

        Perhaps this will trigger a wider investigation by the ASA - although I have to wonder if folks that complain about bittorrent being throttled might get stuck on a "to be investigated" list...

    2. G Murphy

      Re: same with BT

      I'm on BT Inifinity and have found this to be the case too

      1. Paul 181

        Re: same with BT

        BT have been crafty here as usual

        You need to recontract for 12/18 months before they will remover the torrent limits.

    3. fedoraman

      Re: same with BT

      If using uTorrent, try enabling protocol encryption, and not allowing unencrypted connections. This may defeat the traffic shaping that you're experiencing - it has worked for me on other networks.

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    regulator, explicit?!

    "The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) has decreed that "unlimited" can legitimately be applied to an internet service which caps both upload and download speeds, and one which blocks access to SMTP email servers and shreds suspicious emails going in either direction...."

    yeah, I know, it's not their words, it's the reg summary, and yes, it IS explicitly explicit... as explicit as saying that you need to pay for free...

    but hey, we don't to promote consumer spending, cause it's good for economy, and what's good for economy is good for (some) of us, eh? So let's not be too strict about the meaning of this or that petty, meaningless word. Unless we're talking about paying taxes...

  8. Mr Anonymous


    Try port 587 which is ALT SMTP, you might be lucky with 366 too, 465 for SMTPS using SSL or TLS.

    All those with their own server, just choose whatever you like and stop whining like young kids, if you can do it better set up your own mobile network!

    1. An0n C0w4rd

      Re: SMTP

      No, 587 is submission (RFC 2476)

      TCp port 366 is for ODMR (On Demand Mail Relay). I even had to look it up as I'd never heard of it before, and if you read the RFC (RFC 2645) it is NOT for what you think it is.

      However, I agree that people whining about port 25 being blocked should use other ports. And if they insist on using port 25, then they deserve all the spam that they get.

  9. Crisp

    Advertise some unlimited internet even if it's not.

    After all, everyone knows that customers will be much more loyal to your brand once they find out you've lied to their face.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Advertise some unlimited internet even if it's not.

      True but the sad fact is most of them are as bad as each other.

  10. Anonymous Coward


    I got a bee in my bonnet about TMobile and their shenanigans. When I upgraded my phone somehow I got switched from an all-you-can-eat tariff to a crappy 250Mb data per month basic thingy - I just assumed I'd have the same contract terms.

    So I asked TMobile 'tech support' and they said there is no way to upgrade the data tariff. After I stopped laughing I realised they were serious.

    No-way? No-Way? it's just a data flag surely... It's not a case of can't - It's won't.

    Thanks for listening folks.


    1. Roland6 Silver badge

      Re: caps

      Need to check the contract details next time...

      All the mobile networks do this, it was especially noticeable in the early years of the iPhone and iPad.

      The problem is setting the plan up on the billing system, which is a big thing, hence what you should do is call retentions and get them to switch you on to a different call plan, which isn't sold through normal channels.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Thumb Up

        Re: caps

        ooh good tip. Thanks for that - I'll give it a go!

  11. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Running your own server?

    OK. For those too stupid to read the next paragraph, send me £10 on PayPal and I'll do it for you (per month).

    For everyone else, if you're using your own server, just setup your internet-facing router to accept connections on port 26 (or some other port like that) and then map them through via NAT / PAT to your internal mail server on port 25. Job done.

    I've been doing it for years with authenticated outbound - it's the only way for family using Sky / TalkTalk / Other crap ISP's and mobile handsets reliably.

    Heck, if you have problems just get your home router to accept port 80 externally (assuming you're not running a website off it) and put that through to the internal IP of your server on 25. Then T-mobile / Three etc will just treat it as bog standard web traffic.

    1. Number6

      Re: Running your own server?

      As mentioned above, the standard port for mail submission is 587. Sendmail/Postfix and other common mail agents mention it in their config files. Just set it up to use TLS and authentication so that others can't use it to send spam.

      The alternative is to try to pick an ISP that doesn't block traffic, but expects its users to be competent enough to run their own security. I agree that this is not always possible when it comes to mobile operators, but then you might just need one that allows you to run a VPN and connect to somewhere else that does allow you to do stuff.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Running your own server?

        "I agree that this is not always possible when it comes to mobile operators, " - then they should not be allowed to advertise Internet service. Any port whatsoever blocked, without asking you first, they aren't providing Internet services, they are providing filtered Internet services.

        Tried SSH'ing from a Bberry on a Vodafone - with Blackberry INTERNET Service enabled - doesn't work. Called helldesk: "What's SSH"?

        Given that it's true that idiots should not be allowed to work on helldesks but sometimes unavoidable, even so, Vodafone should not take your money for Internet service then not provide it. They certainly should not have their "support" people saying "can you get to, yes, well your Internet service works then. Case closed."

  12. MrGoggle

    Unlimited, unlimited...

    Unlimited downloads up to 40GB a month....

  13. measmyself

    Truly Unlimited

    Im happy, as I got Truly unlimited mobile internet with Tmobile/EE, the guy in the shop kept emphasising the word TRULY unlimited.

    Im just glad im not one of you suckers that only got unlimited, shoulda asked for TRULY UNLIMITED instead of unlimited.

  14. Zmodem

    you still can go 20gb over the 1gb monthly bandwidth "limit" abd get 480kbs download speed on 3g off of sourceforge and other big sites

    1. Zmodem

      the upload test did`nt fail, but this is the average speed

  15. Trokair 1

    Thieves all of them

    Every day on my ride to and from work I get bombarded by radio advertisments for the leading mobile and television providers. Common garbage tactics:

    We have this and they don't (they do its just named differently)

    We are fastest (your $400 a month plan vs. their $50, maybe)

    We have more of something (Extra quantitiy with very little to no quality)

    People like us better (Surveys manipulated to produce desired result)

    I'd switch the station every time on of them comes on but there is literally one of these commercials per 5 minute commercial break on almost every radio station. Perhaps if they spent less time and money lieing about their service and instead improving it and reducing cost to the user then they would get more customers. Just a thought.

  16. Alan Brown Silver badge

    What about VoiP?

    T-mobile specifically block this.

    1. Zmodem

      Re: What about VoiP?

      they block ftp unless you are on a proper contract, you just need a socks 5 proxy to pass the block, aoy voip app will let you set a custom udp port for personal call, unless you use a mainstream app

      1. Alan Brown Silver badge

        Re: What about VoiP?

        According to the ISP code of practice (Which tmobile refuse to sign) applying blanket restrictions like that would preclude them from selling it as an "Internet" service _at all_

        I have a regular contract. Not tried FTP, but SIP is definitely 100% blocked. It's impossible to even sign into a server using port 5060. Switch to wifi and it goes like dambusters.

        Just sent a complain to the ASA about it. Perhaps of a bunch of commentards here all do that they might find they can't call what they're selling "Internet", let alone "unlimited"

        1. Zmodem

          Re: What about VoiP?

          you can make a posh all in 1 server client, or run a server on your cloud box and make a posh gui and add encryption

          1. Zmodem

            Re: What about VoiP?

            but you might aswell stick to your £30 HD webcam and any old messanger

        2. h3

          Re: What about VoiP?

          I think they don't mind about that. (Think there was an article about Skype on here recently where Ofcom said they don't care as long as there is a network you can go onto if you want it (i.e 3)). You can get around any of Tmobile's blocks by using a proper VPN. (Get a VPS for a few quid from lowendbox)

          1. Zmodem

            Re: What about VoiP?

            or just have a free 12 webcam chat


          2. Alan Brown Silver badge

            Re: What about VoiP?

            I know Ofcom don't care. What do you expect from a bunch of public servants whose next step on the career path is telco management? They don't plan on shitting on that path.

            Ofcom also said "unlimited" which wasn't was ok, etc etc

            The ASA's investigators don't have vested interests in toeing the telco line and it shows. Even if Tmobile havrn't signed into the ISP agreement I have every suspicion that the fact it exists means the ASA will hold them to it.

  17. Caesarius

    Words slip, slide, perish

    I can hardly think straight about the misuse of "unlimited", "infinity", "ultimate", etc due to the mind-fogging anger (hence icon). Perhaps I can take refuge in satire.

    Like when schools decided that "fail" was a dirty word, because it might discourage pupils. I formulated a new set of driving test results that specifically avoided the dreaded "fail" word:

    a) You have passed your driving test with Pass Level "Driver" = pass

    b) You have passed your driving test with Pass Level "Passenger" = fail

    c) You have passed your driving test with Pass Level "Pedestrian" ;->

    Let's try the same for broadband:

    * Unlimited = Subject to limitations

    ** Truly Unlimited = All you can eat (assuming you only eat fluffy cats)

    *** Ultimate Truly Unlimited = <shrug> You only get what you pay for </shrug>

    1. Zmodem

      Re: Words slip, slide, perish

      when its done = possibly 10 years or never

This topic is closed for new posts.

Other stories you might like