T-Mobile Clamping Down

by Colin Berkshire

T-Mobile is quietly clamping down on things.

I travel extensively, especially to Asia. T-Mobile’s Simple Choice has been wonderful because they give you free 2G data in most Asian countries. And, text messages are free and voice mails are only 20-cents a minute. (Which is downright reasonable.)

But I have noticed two trends: The actual speed you get while roaming internationally is getting slower and slower. The other is that you seem to have access to fewer towers and fewer cities, especially in China.

I used to consistently get 120 kilobit speeds internationally. It dropped to 100 kilobits shortly after the introduction of free global roaming. I thought that was a fluke, except that I have steadily seen the speeds drop to 80 kilobits and then 60 kilobits. Now, you are hard pressed to get more than 60 kilobits of speed on T-Mobile while roaming in Asia. It’s been a consistent, gradual decline.

They throttle your speed in an interesting way: You will connect to LTE and 4G towers, so they are not limiting you to slower towers. But they route all traffic back to their internet gateway in the United States and that gateway will choke you down. So, even though you have a high-speed link to the tower, the gateway will strangle you.

As Tom Waits says in his song:
“The large print giveth and the small print taketh away.” (Tom Waits, The Early Years: The Lyrics, 1971-1983)