An Open Letter To T-Mobile

HSDPA still stands for Hey! Stupid! Don't Prat Around!

Dear T-Mobile.

Thank you for your kind offer of wireless broadband for £17 a month with "no data download limits". It is, as you rightly claim, a unique tariff for the UK: as far as we know, no other network threatens to ban you from all mobile services on all contracts for sending an instant message. What sort of people do you think your customers are, to merit such draconian threats?

Flat rate wireless broadband is the way to go, but a blanket ban of essential services is not. We write leaders such as this after an online IM-based conference, which brings together the entire editorial team no matter where they are. If we were to try and use your broadband, this page would be blank and our phones would be dead. And is this part of the campaign the GSM Association launched earlier this year "to make instant messaging as popular and ubiquitous among mobile users as text messaging", or did you think of it yourself?

What is IM anyway? Email can be used as a crude IM system: it's inefficient, slow and unpleasant, but at least it's not banned. Does T-Mobile want to force its users to use inefficient, slow and unpleasant ways of doing their jobs? And please, don't insult us by saying that business customers don't consider voice over IP and instant messaging core features. You wouldn't be banning them if people didn't want to use them - which, we confidently predict, your competitors will shortly demonstrate.

And what is this 2GB 'fair usage' limit? We understand that 3G, even with HSDPA, does not have the capacity for serious bandwidth. We have no problem with reasonable restrictions. We just don't like such services described as having "no data download limits". By all means have a healthy free allocation and apply speed limits or bigger bills thereafter, but don't insult our intelligence by saying one thing in the headline and another in the small print.

We'll pass over your claims to have the first HSDPA data card on the market in the UK, pausing only to mention that perfectly acceptable market hyperbole of the past works less well now that anyone can type HSDPA into a comparative pricing search engine.

So thanks, T-Mobile, for taking the first step towards sanity in high speed wireless broadband. We appreciate it, and we fervently look forward to the time when you can offer a similar service without roundly insulting the intelligence and trustworthiness of your users.

Cordially, ZDNet UK.