I recently moved and the internet service providers in the new area are pretty bad. This means that I've been working with a local Fiber provider to try and get some better service. The current providers only offer 12 month contracts which I'm not interested in so I've been using my phone as my primary internet platform. I currently use T-Mobile as my cellphone provider so before I get into the the review let's check out my plan. I currently pay $30 USD for 100 minutes of talk, unlimited texting, and 5GB of data at 4G. For the price this plan is great and T-Mobile should be applauded for offering this sort of deal. It's been excellent for when I've used it alongside a regular ISP. As tethering is against the T-Mobile rules my primary usage is on my phone directly. It should be noted that if you do set up a hotspot you have to use HTTPS to connect to sites (or modify your user agent). HTTP will not work due to T-Mobile requesting you pay for a hotspot connection.
What this means for me is I've been primarily working from a local coffee shop as needed when I talk to my coworkers and do other intense work. I tried to limit myself to between 250 and 500 megabytes of data a day or less (which still only provides 10-20 days of 4G data). What's tough to realize is that just normal browsing will utterly destroy this data cap. I quickly started limiting myself to a single Youtube video (144p), no music streaming, and limited browsing time per day. It wasn't too bad until I hit my cap, which is what prompted this blog post in the first place. The service up until I hit the cap was great, between 6-8 mbps, and pretty exceptional reception. After I hit the cap is the real problem though. According to T-Mobile's website you are then throttled to 128 kbps, or 2G. This isn't actually the case though and instead you're connection is reduced to 64 kbps. The limit surprised me as I had received a text message prior to hitting th cap saying it would be throttled to 64 kbps which I figured was incorrect after reviewing their website details again for plans.
To my surprise I was throttled to 64 kbps. This is the point where things become unbearably slow and regular web page loads were taking quite a long time. I figured that this was just due to the time of day but that's not the case. I used T-Mobile's own speed test in the morning, evening, afternoon, and very late at night and never received a result over 67 kbps, and usually it was more in the low 60s to 40s. Since I use a prepaid plan I figured I would just buy more data, but that's not an option. While you can upgrade your plan (the only one that would provide unlimited data was 80 dollars per month and on a 'contract'), there's no way to just buy more 4G data which I would happily do for a dollar or two per GB. Still a heavy fee, but better than being limited to 64 kbps. While you can buy more minutes you can't buy more data which is a serious flaw.
This lead me to an interesting conclusion of options regarding whether I wanted to upgrade my service, simply deal with it, or move to another provider. For this situation I ended up deciding to stick with T-Mobile even though I believe their website puts false information out there which is pretty shady. I can't fault them for throttling me but I can fault them for throttling so intensely and inaccurately. Not offering a way to simply stay on my current plan while paying for more data is also awful. For a carrier saying they are the 'uncarrier' this is a pretty archaic system and I'm dissapointed I can't just throw them some money and get additional data.