T-Mobile is preparing a harsh wave of new data roaming limitations, which will curtail data usage on roaming networks.
The carrier has, for years, touted transparent roaming terms; customers were educated to treat domestic data and voice roaming as same-as-home network functionality, albeit with the restrictions that came with other GSM networks. Namely, other networks would function at 2G, GSM/EDGE speeds. AT&T, the largest GSM carrier in the country, is compatible with T-Mobile, but their 3G UMTS/HSPA network runs on an incompatible frequency.
While AT&T and T-Mobile have finally negotiated roaming agreements that include 3G devices, so those on pentaband phones (like select Nokia devices) would finally enjoy 3G roaming, that’s all about to end. T-Mobile has stated in internal memos that domestic roaming could be curtailed to as little as 5 MB on April 5. One situation remains unclear, which is for customers that have grandfathered unlimited data plans. Internal memos affirmed that the change affects only handset users, not mobile broadband card/hotspot holders.
Unlike Sprint, which has a roaming rate for additional data over its roaming data cap (typically 300 MB, lower on some plans), T-Mobile is advising employees that customers will simply lose data access. Data will be barred on roaming after exceeding the cap, until the following billing cycle. AT&T and Verizon treat most roaming as on-network coverage, with no penalties for considerable usage.
Customers will be notified via free SMS text messages when they hit 80% and 100% levels of their plans caps. Notifications of the change will be mailed out in customer’s bills starting tomorrow.
This change comes as T-Mobile tries to cut costs, and shore up cash for an eventual deployment of LTE. Many will view this as an ETF Out, as we do here at PhoneNews.com. However, T-Mobile probably will not chime in on if they will waive Early Termination Fees for this material change to customers until late March or early April. Customers have 30 days from when a material change to their takes effect, to request that their service be cancelled entirely.
Some other carriers have offered creative language as to what they consider to be material changes, we’ll continue to keep the carriers honest on what actually is a material change. You can help by exercising your right to terminate service, ETF-free, if you object to changes like these.