The Federal Communications Commission announced that T-Mobile US, Inc. has agreed to take steps to ensure that customers who run mobile speed tests on the carrier’s network will receive accurate information about the speed of their broadband Internet connection, even when they are subject to speed reductions pursuant to their data plans. As part of the agreement, T-Mobile will send text messages to customers that will enable them to more easily get accurate speed information, place direct links to accurate speed tests on customer handsets, and revamp its website disclosures to provide clearer information about the speeds customers actually experience.
"The FCC is committed to ensuring that broadband providers are transparent to consumers. I’m grateful T-Mobile has worked with the FCC to ensure that its customers are better informed about the speeds they are experiencing," said FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler. "Consumers need this information to fully understand what they are getting with their broadband service."
T-Mobile offers several data plans that feature a designated allotment of high-speed data. After a customer uses the monthly high-speed data allotment, that customer will receive data at a reduced speed limited to either 128 kbps or 64 kbps, depending on the customer’s data plan, for the remainder of the monthly billing cycle. These speed reductions are specified in T-Mobile’s agreements with customers, and T-Mobile customers do not receive overage charges for exceeding their data caps.
In June, T-Mobile began exempting the use of certain speed test applications, which allow consumers to measure the speed of their Internet connection, from customers’ monthly high-speed data allotments.
Currently, customers who have their speeds reduced after exceeding their monthly high-speed data cap cannot easily understand the results of exempted speed tests. When these customers run speed tests that T-Mobile has exempted from data caps, they receive information about T-Mobile’s full network speed, and not the actual reduced speed available to these customers at that time. The FCC was concerned that
this could cause confusion for consumers and prevent them from obtaining information relevant to their use of T-Mobile services.
The FCC and T-Mobile have agreed that T-Mobile will begin implementing the agreement immediately and will fully implement it within 60 days.
The FCC has been investigating wireless carriers’ speed reduction practices since this summer, when Chairman Wheeler sent letters to four major nationwide carriers about these practices, including T-Mobile. In response, Verizon Wireless announced last month that it had cancelled its plan to begin speed
reductions for 4G customers on unlimited plans.