A very small percentage of customers -- 1/100 of a percent -- have found ways around that, however, and some have burned through 2 TB (that's 2,000 GB) of mobile data in a month.
T-Mobile CEO, John Legere, is putting a stop to that, taking both to Twitter and a releasing an official press note on Monday:
"[T]hese violators are going out of their way with all kinds of workarounds to steal more LTE tethered data. 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 says that the company is going after the 3,000 customers that are abusing the system by hiding their hotspot usage so that the network is robust enough for all the carrier's customers.
He notes that if the limited hotspot data isn't enough and customers don't want to be throttled with slower speeds -- the standard practice in this case -- people can simply buy additional hotspot data instead of "stealing" it.
Unsurprisingly, this is raising the unlimited vs. limited argument: Check the Twitter conversation Legere started and you'll see some are already railing against the CEO for advertising unlimited data.
The reality is, T-Mobile only says it offers unlimited data for standard phone or tablet use. It clearly spells out the limitations of the "Smartphone Mobile Hotspot" feature, which is included for free in the data plan.
In a perfect world, where wireless spectrum and mobile infrastructure had no limits, this wouldn't matter. That's not the world we live in, however. In this case, Legere is rightfully trying to close down a technical loophole to maintain a certain level of service that nearly 60 million customers pay for.