T-Mobile starts going after LTE tethered data ‘thieves’, says some use up to 2TB per month


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T-Mobile CEO John Legere speaks during a news conference at the 2014 International Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas, Nevada, January 8, 2014. T-Mobile announced they will pay Early Termination Fees (ETF) for families who transfer service from AT&T, Verizon, and Sprint. REUTERS/Steve Marcus (UNITED STATES - Tags: BUSINESS SCIENCE TECHNOLOGY) - RTX176RA

T-Mobile chief executive John Legere is upset about customers stealing data from the carrier. In an open letter on T-Mobile’s site, he writes that starting on August 31, his company will be targeting the 3,000 users who knowingly are stealing more than their share of LTE tethered data.

This is the first official word from the carrier that seems to confirm a memo that was leaked earlier this month. At that time, it was said action would be taken starting August 17 and would go after those who used their unlimited LTE data for Torrents and peer-to-peer networking.

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Legere states that at the heart of the issue are customers that have unlimited 4G LTE plans for their smartphones who have come up with workarounds to steal more than their allotment. He claims that these “thieves” are “downloading apps that hide their tether usage, rooting their phones, writing code to mask their activity, etc.”

Only a small percentage of T-Mobile’s 59 million customers with high-speed tethering are suspect, but it’s having an impact on the network. Legere writes that some of the culprits are using as much as 2 terabytes of data in a single month. He doesn’t know what they’re using it for, but says he doesn’t care. Initially customers will be warned, but then will cease to have access to their unlimited 4G LTE smartphone data plan. They’ll still have service with T-Mobile, but be resigned to using its entry-level limited 4G LTE data plan, which should ease any network issues.

On the carrier’s support page, it indicates that T-Mobile has developed technology to help detect users that are violating its terms and conditions.

“I’m not in this business to play data cop, but we started this wireless revolution to change the industry for good and to fight for consumers,” writes Legere. “I won’t let a few thieves ruin things for anyone else. We’re going to lead from the front on this, just like we always do. Count on it!”

This action will only affect post-paid T-Mobile customers, not those on Pay in Advance (prepaid) or MetroPCS.

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