FCC slaps T-Mobile US’s wrists over speed transparency

The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has announced that T-Mobile US has agreed to be more transparent over speeds its customers experience, particularly when it imposes speed restrictions and reductions.

T-Mobile imposes a speed reduction for users who exceed their monthly data allowance. Typically, speed restrictions of 128 kbps or 64 kbps are imposed for said users. However, concerns were raised by consumer rights group Public Knowledge over a lack of transparency from T-Mobile and its customers using broadband speed measurement services.

Subsequently, the FCC opened up proceedings against T-Mobile to make sure it’s customers are always fully informed of the speeds they experience. As part of the agreement, T-Mobile will provide customers with tools, hyperlinks to speed measurement services and informative text messages to guarantee maximum visibility and disclosure of the speeds customers actually experience.

“The FCC is committed to ensuring that broadband providers are transparent to consumers. I’m grateful T-Mobile has worked with the FCC to ensure that its customers are better informed about the speeds they are experiencing,” said FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler. “Consumers need this information to fully understand what they are getting with their broadband service.”

While welcoming the announcement, Public Knowledge was quick to point out a level of opacity they feel still remains. “We commend the FCC for moving quickly to investigate our complaint against T-Mobile, and are encouraged that the FCC and T-Mobile were able to come to an agreement that increases transparency for T-Mobile’s customers,” said Michael Weinberg, Vice President of Public Knowledge.

“However, we remain concerned that T-Mobile continues to prevent its subscribers from using the speed test application of their choice. Why is T-Mobile afraid to let its customers test their network connection as they see fit? What results are T-Mobile trying to shield from the public?  If T-Mobile is truly confident that they are managing their network responsibly, Public Knowledge hopes that they will free their subscribers to test their network connection with an application that they trust, not one that was pre-approved by T-Mobile.”

Compared to the broader subject of net neutrality, this appears to be a relative footnote, but once again illustrates the pressure operators are facing to ensure maximum transparency with their customers.

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