T-Mobile to drop 1G data cap for G1, while throttling heavy users

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1:55 pm EST September 26, 2008 - T-Mobile told BetaNews today it has now removed a 1 GB monthly data cap on the Android-based G1 from its policy statement, confirming our earlier report that the wireless carrier is dropping plans to impose a cap. A T-Mobile spokesperson also said that revamped 3G data plans will be "shared broadly with all customers" as soon as those plans are finalized.

The full text of the T-Mobile spokesperson's statement to BetaNews this morning follows:

"Our goal, when the T-Mobile G1 becomes available in October, is to provide affordable, high-speed data service allowing customers to experience the full data capabilities of the device and our 3G network. At the same time, we have a responsibility to provide the best network experience for all of our customers so we reserve the right to temporarily reduce data throughput for a small fraction of our customers who have excessive or disproportionate usage that interferes with our network performance or our ability to provide quality service to all of our customers.

"We removed the 1 GB soft limit from our policy statement, and we are confident that T-Mobile G1 customers will enjoy the high speed of data access over our 3G network. The specific terms for our new data plans are still being reviewed and once they are final we will be certain to share this broadly with all customers."

11:47 am EDT September 25, 2008 - T-Mobile has reportedly dropped its plans to implement a 1 GB monthly data cap for its forthcoming G1, the first Android-based mobile phone, moving instead to a a "throttling" or "slowdown" approach for heavy users.

As first reported in The New York Times, T-Mobile's decision in favor of an unlimited data plan comes in response to complaints from many potential customers that 1 GB of data usage won't meet their needs in using the G1 phone launched earlier this week.

T-Mobile, however, is reserving the right to "temporarily reduce data throughput for a small fraction of our customers who have excessive or disproportionate usage that interferes with out network performance or our ability to provide quality service to all customers," according to an e-mail from T-Mobile to the Times.

As previously reported in BetaNews, Comcast recently proposed a slowdown plan known as "Fair Share" after the Federal Communications Commission found the US-based ISP had engaged in "unreasonable management practices" in blocking P2P applications such as BitTorrent and Acquisition. Under Fair Share, Comcast wants to throttle the top speeds for heavy users for 10- to 20-minute blocks of time.

At this writing, though, T-Mobile has not yet released any details as to how it will go about slowing down the traffic of heavy users.

Meanwhile, Time Warner Cable is testing out an alternative "tiered pricing" model -- in which top users are charged higher rates -- in Beaumont, Texas.

Even before T-Mobile's G1 launch, some users attending the recent Interop conference in New York City voiced concerns that more service providers would start to impose data usage caps.

In response to a question from one audience member, Scott Siegler, mobile infrastructure analyst at Dell'Oro Group and moderator of a panel on 4G wireless, mentioned tiered pricing as one of the methods that providers are considering for handling bandwidth issues.

Other panelists suggested, though, that bandwidth limitations won't be as problematic on wireless networks such as WiMAX and LTE as on cable networks, for example, due to factors that include a relatively abundant 4G spectrum and less reliance on physical infrastructure.

T-Mobile, however, is just now moving from "2.5G" to a 3G HSPDA wireless network. The carrier plans to complete its migration to 3G in the top 27 US markets by the end of this year, with the remaining markets to follow, said Mitch Lustig, T-Mobile USA's senior manager of product development, in an interview with BetaNews earlier this week.

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