T-Mobile cuts mobile data usage

Samsung Galaxy and iPhone
Image caption Networks are changing focus from voice to data

T-Mobile has slashed the amount of data customers can consume on their handsets.

The company said the move was necessary to provide "a better experience for all our customers who use internet on their phone".

The monthly allowance for most has gone down from 1GB (gigabyte) to 500 MB (megabytes).

For Android handset owners, previously allocated 3GB per month, the drop is more than 80%.

"Given that data allowance was a driving force in choosing T-Mobile over competitors last year, this is a huge blow," disgruntled T-Mobile customer Steve Anderson told the BBC.

Wrecking ball

In the summer mobile operators including Vodafone and 02 introduced limits on the amount of data people could consume

Having initially followed suit, last month Three decided to scrap its data caps completely.

The reasons for T-Mobile's decision is two-fold, according to Shaun Collins, managing director of analyst firm CCS Insight.

"It needed to come more in line with what Orange is offering as they are both now part of the same company," he said.

"It also reflects the fact that it wants to manage its data plan," he added.

The firm singled out video as being a particularly data-hungry.

"Video is the wrecking ball to most operator's data plans," said Mr Collins.

But users remain keen to view video, whether it be clips from YouTube or home-made films via their mobile devices, he said..

A survey conducted by CCS Insight found music and video were the most popular applications for smartphones.

Despite this, the vast majority of users (over 90%) stay well below the 500MB figure when it comes to monthly data consumption, said Mr Collins.

"Most people won't notice the difference but there is a single digit minority that use upwards of 30% of the bandwidth," he said.

It appears to be these data-hungry users that T-Mobile is targeting.

"Customers who have a need for higher volumes of data will be encouraged to take up a separate mobile broadband plan," said a T-Mobile spokesman.

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