T-Mobile clarified Thursday that it has no plans to broadly throttle its unlimited data customers, but is reaching out to a small number of customers using the service in violation of company policies.
In particular, T-Mobile is calling people using the service to run a full-time Web camera or a server, or using their phones for large-scale peer-to-peer file sharing, to let them know that such practices aren’t allowed.
“We are planning to reach out to them and let them know and help them change,” Chief Marketing Officer Mike Sievert said in an interview.
Sievert’s comments follow a leaked internal memo that the company is distributing to field staff to explain the effort.
That memo, Sievert said, was misinterpreted by some to mean some sort of broad throttling of heavy users. He stressed that for customers paying for totally unlimited service on their phone, T-Mobile means unlimited.
“There’s no limit on data,” Sievert said. “People can use it as much as they want on their smartphone[s].”
T-Mobile, however, does prohibit the use of peer-to-peer file services as well as limit the amount of data customers can use when tethering their phone to a computer. Sievert said T-Mobile may take action if customers are finding ways to circumvent such limits or otherwise violating the company’s terms of service.
Initially, the company is reaching out to about 20 such customers, Sievert said.
The hope is that the company can work with the customers to change their behavior, he said, although T-Mobile will consider throttling or discontinuing service to those whose practices continue to violate terms and whose usage is impacting overall network quality.
It’s an especially sensitive time, as the Federal Communications Commission is looking into what Verizon Wireless and other carriers are doing to manage their networks — particularly with regard to actions that only target customers on unlimited data plans.
Sievert drew a distinction between T-Mobile’s actions and those being taken by Verizon.
“This is so apples and oranges, it’s absurd,” Sievert said.