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T-Mobile: Data Caps Are a Symptom of Uncompetitive Markets
by Karl Bode 04:25PM Monday Jul 14 2014
In an emergency petition filed with the FCC, T-Mobile accuses AT&T and Verizon of hoarding spectrum for anti-competitive benefit, then over-charging consumers via usage caps the company argues aren't technically necessary. To hear T-Mobile tell it, AT&T and Verizon then use their duopoly power to hoard spectrum to limit competitors, then charge those under-positioned competitors an arm and a leg for roaming connectivity -- jacking up prices for everyone in the process.

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T-Mobile is urging the FCC to force companies like AT&T and Verizon to offer roaming connectivity to competing companies for significantly lower rates. Consumer costs were recently cut in half after European Regulators capped roaming rates.

In a comment filing supporting T-Mobile, consumer groups like Public Knowledge key in on the fact that not only do usage caps allow AT&T and Verizon to undermine net neutrality while kacking up costs, they deter usage of content and services entirely, which is good for nobody:
T-Mobile’s evidence also shows that these artificially high data roaming rates and resulting bandwidth caps keep people from using broadband to its full potential. In 2011 PK warned in a paper called “4G Magic Beans” that bandwidth caps made it impossible to do all the important stuff 4G LTE supposedly lets you do. T-Mobile provides evidence that users with capped or throttled broadband use 20x-30x less broadband than users with uncapped broadband. T-Mobile has also said that 37% of subscribers don’t use streaming media because they fear going over their bandwidth caps.
T-Mobile isn't exempt from blame, Public Knowledge noting that T-Mobile can't really declare caps to be competitively problematic one day, then in the next breath be oblivious to the potential issues with their recent decision to exempt certain music applications:
Last year, T-Mobile CEO John Legere explained that its throttling plan would only come into play if a subscriber was hurting other customers’ experience. Yesterday’s announcement reveals that justification was – to use one of Legere’s catchphrases – bullshit. If there is network congestion, data from a music app blessed by T-Mobile into the unmetered lane is no less responsible than any other type of data. Granting some data but not others special network privileges flies in the face of the reasoning that T-Mobile was using for throttling a year ago.

The fact that new services can be voted into the unmetered lane will provide little comfort to music services that are not already large or those without a business development relationship with T-Mobile. For disruptive startups that aspire to grow, counting against T-Mobile’s cap will act as a drag on their ability to get customers – exactly the customers the startup would rely on to vote them into the unmetered lane. For music services that are proudly niche – community radio stations WFMU and KCRW both have great apps with strong followings here at PK – their fate is to be left out of this agreement entirely.
Of course to hear AT&T and Verizon tell it, this is all total fantasy, and the best course of action is to leave everything precisely as it is.

71 comments .. click to read

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4 recommendations

reply to 78036364

Re: More T-Mobile FUD

you're an idiot.. you assume 400 users will be all watching HD Netflix videos all at the same time. Oh and your 75Mbps per sector antenna is for that particular spectrum. You have 3 spectrum that are utilizing LTE in most urban locations. Granted some are lagging with still supporting 3G. So let's say there's 3 spectrum with each maxing out at 75Mbps. That's about 225Mbps per sector antenna. Most carriers have 3 sector antennas on the towers they are licensed to use. So that's about 700Mbps per tower.. Could possibly be more with advanced antenna design, etc.

Of course 400 users hitting one tower at the same time is likely not going to happen unless you have only 1 tower and there's not another one around for the same carrier for another 5+ miles.

The best course of network planning is to have multiple towers for a specific carrier and their all set for load balancing and in close proximity to each other. This should have been done years ago... But you know Corporate America.. Never get anything done as it should have been done.. They're more interested in lining the pockets of the board of directors, stock holders, and the upper management, so they all can buy a dozen effin homes that they never have the time to live in..

Meanwhile South Korea is already using LTE-Advanced with 300Mbps downloads and 75Mbps uploads.. I guess they're using some amped up pixie pee and unicorn farts to get it done...



2 recommendations

reply to SmilingBob

Re: Speed

Data usage caps are a simple rip off. As discussed many times already, they don't solve congestion problems (and can't even solve them). They are intended to squeeze more money from the users. Congestion can be solved only by increasing the network capacity or by decreasing bandwidth when the number of simultaneous connections rises (which is more of a weak workaround than real solution).


League City, TX

2 recommendations

What I have never understood is, why is mobile broadband "data" capped instead of "speed" capped? I mean seriously, if the tower capacity is so limited, wouldn't it make more sense to limit LTE speeds in the first place? Maybe have several speed tiers available just like wired broadband. Having a wide open throttle for all LTE users and then complaining you need data caps to preserve network integrity pretty much defeats the entire idea of LTE in the first place since you can't do anything with it.


Pittsburgh, PA
·Verizon FiOS

2 recommendations

reply to IPPlanMan

Re: More T-Mobile FUD

said by IPPlanMan:

You scared?

You really think everyone is streaming at the same time?

You mean you don't use 4G to stream at 6 Mbps 24/7?

Holy Cable Modem Batman

Washington, DC

5 recommendations

reply to 78036364
You scared? You're talking scared.

You really think everyone is streaming Netflix at the same time?