T-Mobile has surprised its customers with a new year's resolution that is less than welcome: it is to halve its mobile Internet usage limit to just 500MB, from its previous level of 1GB.
The company announced the change today to its customers, allowing them to move away from the network if they decide that the change in terms and conditions is less than advantageous - and from the response so far on social networking services such as Twitter, it looks like the company might be shedding a few customers over the reduction in allowance.
The company, like so many in the UK broadband and mobile broadband market, offers 'unlimited' Internet usage subject to a fair use policy. In T-Mobile's case, this limit-that-isn't-a-limit was set to 1GB - a small amount of data from the perspective of a primary Internet connection, but just about manageable for a secondary mobile broadband connection.
Now, however, the company has halved that figure to just 500MB - while charging its customers precisely the same amount as before.
In the company's announcement to customers, it claims: "T-Mobile is the only operator to give customers the Mobile Internet for a fixed-price. We never charge our customer's [sic] more than they expect for their Mobile Internet in the UK. Therefore you'll never need to worry about how many emails you've sent, how long you've been on-line or the ‘data / GB’s’."
However, the company clarifies what it means by 'Mobile Internet' with the following statement: "Browsing means looking at websites and checking email, but not watching videos, downloading files or playing games. If you want to download, stream and watch video clips, save that stuff for your home broadband."
With modern smartphones - and 3G-enabled tablets - possessing access to an increasing number of apps that allow the streaming of video content and the playing of multiplayer games, it looks like T-Mobile is yearning for the days of WAP-enabled 'featurephones' that didn't churn through data at quite so fast a pace.
As comments on microblogging service Twitter brand T-Mobile's announcement as 'patronising,' 'atrocious,' and 'badly written' - and several customers point out that for customers that signed up to T-Mobile's Android-specific data plans the move represents a massive 83 per cent reduction in data transfer allowance - it looks like the company might have a PR disaster on its hands.
For those signed up to T-Mobile's service, the message is clear: stop streaming videos on your smartphone by the time the new rule comes in to force on the 1st of February, or find another provider.