T-Mobile is backpedaling on the limit it placed on the so-called unlimited data plan that will accompany its Android phone, but the operator isn’t saying exactly what the new terms will be.
When T-Mobile introduced the G1, the first phone based on Google’s Android mobile platform, on Tuesday, it said that subscribers would be able to sign up for a US$35-per-month unlimited data plan. But the fine print on the Web site for the phone said that users would actually be limited to 1G byte of data usage per month, after which their connection would slow to a 50K bps or less rate.
The operator quickly came under fire for the limit, which is relatively low for people who hope to use the phone regularly to view maps, check e-mail, watch YouTube videos and browse the Internet.
On Thursday, T-Mobile said it removed the 1G-byte limit from its policy statement. But it didn’t say that users would have true unlimited download capability. “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,” the company said in a statement.
The Web site now has a more generic statement about possible repercussions for people who use what T-Mobile calls a “disproportionate” amount of bandwidth. “To provide the best network experience for all of our customers we may temporarily reduce data throughput for a small fraction of customers who use a disproportionate amount of bandwidth,” the fine print reads.
Mobile operators routinely cap the amount of data that users can download, even in their so-called unlimited plans. They say that the cap ensures that a few heavy users don’t hog the limited available bandwidth to the detriment of other users.
T-Mobile, however, might be at a particular disadvantage compared to its competitors. The operator is only just now launching its third-generation data network, currently available in 16 markets, with a total of 27 expected to be live by the middle of November. Some operators face challenges when first launching new networks, as they try to predict the demand for services and plan their capacity accordingly.