Confirmed: T-Mobile exempting speed-testing data from monthly data allotments

Carrier hopes to edge past net neutrality concerns
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T-Mobile US (NYSE:TMUS) confirmed that it is not going to throttle the data generated from network speed-testing apps, an effort to reiterate to customers how fast T-Mobile's network is even after they exceed their monthly data buckets. Although the carrier's new initiative could raise net neutrally concerns, the carrier argued that it is not prioritizing specific kinds of data nor is it accepting payments--the carrier said its only goal is to show off the data speeds it can supply.

TmoNews first reported last week that the Ookla Speedtest app would be removed from T-Mobile's network throttling restrictions. Instead of assessing overage fees, T-Mobile slows the data speeds of customers who travel over their monthly data allotments.

In a statement provided to FierceWireless today, T-Mobile confirmed the news: "The Ookla Speedtest.net application is designed to measure true network speed--not show that a customer has exceeded their high-speed data bucket. Other speed test providers are also whitelisted," the carrier said.

The carrier explained that the data transmitted by Ookla's Speedtest.net application and other speed-test apps won't count against customers' monthly data allowances. Meaning, if a customer with 3 GB of high-speed data per month who transmits 1 GB of data through a speed-testing app will still have 3 GB remaining on their plan since any data associated with speed-testing apps won't count against their monthly data allotment.

T-Mobile's handling of the data generated by speed-testing apps is the same as its handling of streaming music data: Earlier this month, T-Mobile said it would provide unlimited access to several music streaming services, including Pandora, Slacker, iHeart Radio and Spotify, Samsung's Milk and the forthcoming streaming service Beatport, without imposing data charges on users' 4G plans. Meaning, customers using T-Mobile's Music Freedom who go over their monthly data allowance won't have their music service throttled.

Although T-Mobile's streaming music announcement sparked a debate over whether the carrier is running afoul of net neutrality principles, T-Mobile argued that it is not. The carrier argued that it is not treating the data from speed-testing apps--or music apps--differently from other data. Instead, it's just not counting that data against a subscribers' monthly data bucket. Further, the carrier said that no money is changing hands in either of these scenarios--those providing speed-test apps and music apps are not paying for preferential treatment. Instead, the carrier argued, T-Mobile is trying to showcase its network speeds to customers, including those who travel over their monthly data allotments.

Beyond T-Mobile's latest network-management efforts, the net neutrality debate continues in Washington. An appeals court rejected the FCC's initial attempt to instate network neutrality rules (or "open Internet" rules in commission parlance). The FCC is now working to rejigger its net neutrality rules to align with the court's ruling.

For more:
- see this initial TmoNews report

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