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T-Mobile CEO declares war on ‘thieves’ who are ‘stealing’ tethered LTE data

Updated Sep 1st, 2015 3:12PM EDT
T-Mobile Unlimited 4G LTE Tethering Data Throttling
Image: Asa Mathat | Re/code

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How can someone steal something that’s unlimited? That’s a question you might ask when hearing that T-Mobile has started a war on data hogs who are taking advantage of its unlimited data plans. But the uncarrier’s CEO made it clear on Periscope and on the company’s blog on Sunday how that’s happening, as T-Mobile has had enough of people using workarounds to use their T-Mobile connections to get unlimited tethering data and mask their abuse.

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“Here’s what’s happening: when customers buy our unlimited 4G LTE plan for their smartphones we include a fixed amount of LTE to be used for tethering (using the ‘Smartphone Mobile HotSpot’ feature), at no extra cost, for the occasions when broadband may not be convenient or available,” T-Mobile CEO John Legere wrote. “If customers hit that high-speed tethering limit, those tethering speeds slow down. If a customer needs more LTE tethering, they can add-on more. Simple.”

So Legere’s problem is with unlimited tethering going on at full LTE speeds. The CEO says these abusers, one percent of a percent of the carrier’s 59 million customers, are using massive amounts of LTE data and are potentially threatening the experience of others. Some use as much as 2TB of data per month, significantly above the 7GB of LTE tethering limit.

“I’m not sure what they are doing with it – stealing wireless access for their entire business, powering a small cloud service, providing broadband to a small city, mining for bitcoin — but I really don’t care!” Legere said.

“These violators are going out of their way with all kinds of workarounds to steal more LTE tethered data,” he added, further explaining the professional tools data hogs use to conceal their data tethering usage. “They’re downloading apps that hide their tether usage, rooting their phones, writing code to mask their activity, etc. They are ‘hacking’ the system to swipe high speed tethered data. These aren’t naive amateurs; they are clever hackers who are willfully stealing for their own selfish gain.”

Legere’s full post on the matter is available at the source link, and at least 3,000 T-Mobile users should read it, as the company is coming after them starting Monday.

Chris Smith Senior Writer

Chris Smith has been covering consumer electronics ever since the iPhone revolutionized the industry in 2008. When he’s not writing about the most recent tech news for BGR, he brings his entertainment expertise to Marvel’s Cinematic Universe and other blockbuster franchises.

Outside of work, you’ll catch him streaming almost every new movie and TV show release as soon as it's available.