21GB “soft cap” quietly added to T-Mobile’s unlimited 4G LTE Simple Choice plans
It has come to our attention over the past few days – thanks to a couple of our readers – that T-Mobile has changed the fine print to its unlimited 4G LTE Simple Choice plans. Head on over to the individual plans or family plans page on T-Mobile’s website and you’ll see the following short line added at the bottom of the page:
“*Unlimited 4G LTE customers who use more than 21 GB of data in a bill cycle will have their data usage de-prioritized compared to other customers for that bill cycle at locations and times when competing network demands occur, resulting in relatively slower speeds.”
Not that long ago one our biggest subjects of discussion here at TmoNews was T-Mobile’s use of network de-prioritization. In short: Customers who used more data than 97% of T-Mo subscribers would find they were being bumped down the pecking order in locations where the network was congested. With these terms – which have existed for a little while now – if you are in a particularly busy area, you’d see your 4G LTE data speeds drop considerably. Sometimes even lower than 1Mbps.
It’s worth reiterating that in most cases, you probably wouldn’t see an impact at all. It depends very much on how busy the network is when you’re trying to use it. Even then, those in the top 3% will only feel the slower speeds during peak times. Being in that top 3% of users, therefore, isn’t a guarantee that you’ll be slowed down drastically. Being in a congested area is.
This change in fine print makes it clear exactly how much data you have to use in order to feel the pinch. Previously, the 97% marker was ambiguous at best. You have no idea how much data other customers are using, and so you will have no way of knowing if you’re in the top 3% of data users, or not. Now there’s a much clearer 21GB “soft” cap. If you hit 21GB in any billing cycle, you’re then flagged as a de-prioritized customer and might experience slower speeds in congested areas. Once your new monthly billing cycle starts, the flag is removed from your account and everything goes back to normal.
We’re not sure exactly how long the change in the fine print has existed. I suspect it could have been at least 6-7 days. Maybe longer. Thanks to the readers, Merik and Johnta, for pointing this out.
Personally I like this limit much more than the vague 97% we had before. What do you think? Does it bring T-Mobile’s claims of being unlimited in to doubt? Or is this a smart way to go as more customers start using even more data?