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Data throttling is a way that cell phone carriers and internet providers slow down the speeds you receive on your phone or through different devices. This can be very disconcerting for T-Mobile customers who pay for an unlimited plan or have a specific kpbs speed through their Hotspot data.
Data throttling and deprioritization are two terms that technically mean the same thing but applied to two different situations. Data throttling is when you passed a threshold for your data usage. If you have a T-Mobile plan with a data cap, and you go over that monthly cap, they will throttle your data until the next billing cycle.
However, deprioritization, when your speed is slowed down significantly, can happen to anyone even those with unlimited plans. This is when you are literally deprioritized or no longer a priority. A lot of the major telecom companies share towers so you might be in a busy area using a T-Mobile tower but then your cell phone pings to a Verizon tower. When you are using the Verizon tower, since you are a T-Mobile customer, they deprioritize your speed and throttle your data until you ping back to a T-Mobile tower.
There is no warning for this even for people who have an unlimited T-Mobile plan, it happens without you knowing, and it can happen at any time.
If you also have internet through T-Mobile, there’s a quick way to check and see if the company is throttling your data. You can run an internet speed test, and then use a VPN to change your location and run the same internet speed test again. If they are throttling your data, when you use the VPN you should see a significantly higher speed. This is good information to have if you need to reach out to customer service and address the issue. The same type of test can be run on your mobile device if you do a speed test for your phone.
Unfortunately, your T-Mobile contract does not have any words like data throttling or deprioritization. This can make it very confusing for consumers and very frustrating for those who pay for unlimited plans.
As is the case with all cell phone providers, T-Mobile does not actually provide unlimited data. Unlimited data simply means there are no overage charges or data caps within your plan but they still reserve the right to deprioritize or throttle your data. Deprioritization takes place whenever there is congestion at a given Tower but, T-Mobile sales to explain what this congestion really means. They also stipulate that if you pay for a specific amount of data rather than an unlimited plan, they can throttle or do you prioritize your data once you reach the amount for which you pay in a given billing cycle. They send text messages about reaching data limits so that customers are not caught off guard.
T-Mobile is not very clear about what the speeds will be when data throttling or deprioritization is applied. Their data usage page simply says but it is based on the number of people using the network at any given time. They also make it clear that this is how they manage their network for all customers and there’s no way around data throttling or deprioritization no matter what you pay for your plan.
The obligations T-Mobile has to you and your data are very unclear in the contract and T-Mobile protects themselves by wording the data usage page to explain that they can throttle it anytime they think is necessary. More importantly, like other cell phone providers, T-Mobile will deprioritize customers who do not have unlimited plans first, but that does not mean people with unlimited plans don’t face the same data throttling. They do, they just face it after everyone else.
So what can you do if a new billing cycle has started but you believe T-Mobile is still throttling your data? What can you do to stop them from deprioritizing you or throttling your data based on where you are?
If you think T-Mobile is throttling your data, you can contact them by calling the Main Customer Service line at (800) 937-8997 or reaching out online.
You can also contact them through the main line for T-Mobile’s Executive Offices at (425) 378-4000.
Conducting a test to verify whether data throttling is happening can go a long way toward getting T-Mobile customer service to really listen to your complaints and potentially offer some sort of resolution. For more ways to contact T-Mobile, click here.
If you have tried to reach out to T-Mobile customer service and they refused to stop throttling or you are not getting a fair resolution, there is another option.
Arbitration is a form of dispute resolution which allows you to bring your dispute against T-Mobile in front of an independent arbitrator. Your contract with T-Mobile is designed to avoid things like class action lawsuits but allows for arbitration.