Ina Fried

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T-Mobile to Start Charging Overages on Low-End Data Plan

T-Mobile pioneered the notion of throttling data speeds rather than charging overages for those who use up their allotted data amount in a given month. Now the company has decided it needs to start assessing overage charges on its lowest-end data plan.

“Customers will incur overages of $0.10 per MB when they exceed 200MB of data ($10 for 100MB) up to a maximum monthly payment of $40 with both Value and Classic plans for data including the 200MB add-on fee,” T-Mobile said in a statement. The company typically charges between $5 to $10 for its basic data plan, which includes just 200MB of monthly data usage.

T-Mobile said it will start notifying customers when they reach 90 percent of that level, and then again when they hit the 200MB limit, offering them the option to move to a higher-end data plan. The changes are effective Aug. 14, T-Mobile said.

For those who want unlimited data, T-Mobile is now pushing people toward one of its other data plans, including a plan that includes 2GB of high-speed data (and data at 2G speeds for those who go over the limit). That plan starts at $10 for those on one of its new “value” plans, which offer lower prices to those who bring their own phone or pay full price for the device.

Carriers have been trying to come to grips with an explosion in data traffic. In general, T-Mobile’s approach has been to offer unlimited data, but to slow customers significantly once they hit a certain level of use. Verizon and AT&T have largely moved away from unlimited data plans as well, instead offering plans with various data limits, with customers incurring overage charges for data use above the limits. Sprint is the lone company among the major carriers still offering unlimited data plans with no throttling or overage charges.

The change to T-Mobile’s data rate structure was reported earlier by TmoNews, a site specializing in news about the carrier.

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The problem with the Billionaire Savior phase of the newspaper collapse has always been that billionaires don’t tend to like the kind of authority-questioning journalism that upsets the status quo.

— Ryan Chittum, writing in the Columbia Journalism Review about the promise of Pierre Omidyar’s new media venture with Glenn Greenwald