T-Mobile UK is the latest British network to impose stricter limits on how their customers can use mobile data. From February 1, customers will be subject to a "fair use" limit of 500MB, beyond which access to stuff like video streaming and 'file downloading' will be restricted. Currently T-Mobile offers a generous fair use limit of 3GB per month for Android smartphones on their network.

Find out more about how this will be changing after the jump. [T-Mobile UK]

 A recent T-Mobile statement explains the changes in more detail.

"We’ll always let you email and browse the internet and you’ll never pay more than you agree to. We do have a fair use policy but ours is there to make sure we deliver the best service possible to all our customers. This means that you’ll always be able to browse the internet.

So remember our Mobile Broadband and internet on your phone service is best used for browsing, [...] but not watching videos or downloading files."

This is a slightly more reasonable policy than is offered by some other operators, who will cut off all data access the moment customers creep over their monthly limit. It's difficult to see how the network will be able to distinguish between normal web traffic and HTTP downloads, though.

What's more worrying is that T-Mobile says the new limit will apply to existing customers  as well as new sign-ups. Right now, the fair use policy that new customers are linked to still refers to the old 3GB limit, meaning that it'd be possible to sign up to a 24-month contract today expecting 3GB of data per month, only to have it cut to a sixth of that three weeks later.

Competing networks like O2 and Vodafone stopped offering 'unlimited' data in late 2010, instead switching to fixed data limits of varying sizes. However, under British law T-Mobile is free to continue advertising 'unlimited' data access, even with the new 500MB cap, if it believes the majority of its customers will not be affected by the limit.


Reader comments

T-Mobile UK slashes 'fair use' mobile data limit to 500MB


One wonders what the point of the rush to LTE is if the carriers are going to continue to strangle customers' usage.

Peeking at my last bill, none of my plan members got to 500MB, even though we have legacy AT&T unlimited plans. Still there have been times when we did, and this kind of move seems draconian.

Built up the network. Don't be stomping down the customers.

UK telcos are still bickering over frequencies for 4G. LTE rollout won't be happening over here for another four years or so, so until then we're stuck with 3G and draconian limits like these.

Are the plans tiered like AT&T is over here? That's still bigger than AT&Ts smallest plan. Was this just the smallest data plan being made smaller? Can you still select a larger plan if you want?

So far, I've been pretty happy with T-Mobile USA's throttling solution to discourage high bandwidth users, but if they try to impose the new T-Mobile UK policy here, I'm switching carriers.

That is horrid.. This means you cannot use all the features/software that CAME ON THE PHONE !!!! This is just an excuse for having crappy infrastructure..

@purplesocialist. Wifi is around but not as abundant as other countries.

T-mobile USP = Unique Selling Point. Just became their UNCP = Unique no customer point.

I spoke to their helpdesk in Manila which was kinda pointless.

Will speak to loyalty and see if I can leave without paying residual since they broke contract.

I spoke with t-mobile cs and they told me my 3gb limit will remain as its web & walk plus. It's only the standard web and walk which is changing. All Android phones cone with the plus.

I'm using 5-10gb per month + free hotspot as always, 5€/5$. Here at Finland.
Isn't WiFi nowadays kinda for 3rd world countries?

Talk about stifling innovation. The UK Government had better step in before the UK reverts to 3rd world status.