There’s been some coverage of MetroPCS’s new mobile plans today—started at $40 per month, they offer “unlimited talk, text, 4G Web browsing.” Engadget is more than a little confused—after all, if the $40 (“Not $40-ish, $40,” per the MetroPCS website) offers “unlimited” web access, what’s the point of paying for the $50 or $60 plan that purports to give you “additional data access”? When most people think of “the web,” they think of all of the content you can access on the web. You can watch Netflix movies on the web or listen to music—and you aren’t charged extra for going to websites that are “unaffiliated.”
Keeping with tradition, here are some of the terms and conditions that attach to the new “simple” plans from MetroPCS—you might find that your idea of what constitutes “unlimited Web” might be different from theirs. You can read all of this for yourself on its web site (though you might have to enter a zip code it covers, first).
Depending on your Rate Plan, your usage of Data Access may be metered by Us. Your Rate Plan may include a Data Access usage limit, such as 1 GB per billing cycle. We shall determine in our sole discretion what data usage constitutes Data Access and reserve the right to alter, make additions to or deletions to what type of data usage, or protocols, constitute Data Access without notification to you. Data Access may include, for example, multimedia steaming and video on demand services, as well as certain multimedia uploads, downloads and gaming services and applications. Uploads are data sessions where the data is transferred from your Wireless Device to some other computer or wireless device, while downloads are data sessions where the data is transferred from some other computer or wireless device to your Wireless Device. Depending on your Rate Plan, data sessions from MetroSTUDIO and the @metro store may not count against your Data Access limit. Data Access does not include any data services or uses which are prohibited by Us under this Agreement, such as in the
Our Services and Rate Plans are designed for you to use your service each month predominantly using our networks. If your minutes of use, text messaging usage or data usage are not predominantly on our networks (“off-net usage”), or are excessive, abnormally high, or cause MetroPCS to incur too much cost, MetroPCS may, at its option and sole discretion, terminate your service, deny your continued use of other carriers’ coverage, or change your Rate Plan. MetroPCS will provide you with advance notice that it intends to take any of the above actions.
MetroPCS reserves the right to manage our network and the traffic on our network in the way we believe best benefits our customers and best enables us to maintain Service of the nature described in this Agreement. … Thus, we reserve the right to discontinue Service to customers, to discontinue or block Service to certain telephone numbers or categories of services, to terminate calls or Services as described below, to reduce the speed at which such services are provided, or to restrict the amount of usage, which our experience indicates result in disruptive usage patterns of this nature. For example, MetroPCS Service is not intended for use … (ix) for persons whose web and data Rate Plan usage is not predominantly for HTML/WAP browsing and multimedia streaming services provided by us, our affiliates, authorized suppliers, and licensees.
MetroWEB Service is intended for use on your device and not on any other equipment. You acknowledge and agree that the web and data Rate Plans provided by MetroPCS are designed to be, and shall only be used, predominately for HTML/WAP browsing, email, intranet access to corporate intranets, individual productivity applications and multimedia streaming services provided by MetroPCS, its affiliates, authorized suppliers and licensors, and not for off portal multimedia streaming services. Except as may otherwise be specifically permitted or prohibited for select Rate Plans, data sessions may be conducted only for the following purposes: (i) Internet browsing; (ii) email; and (iii) some intranet access (including access to corporate intranets, email, and individual productivity applications like customer relationship management, sales force, and field service automation). This means, by way of example only, that checking email, surfing the Internet, downloading legally acquired songs, and/or visiting corporate intranets is permitted, but downloading movies using peer-to-peer (“P2P”) file sharing services, redirecting television signals for viewing on Personal Computers, web broadcasting, and/or for the operation of servers, telemetry devices and/or supervisory control and data acquisition devices is prohibited. While most common uses for Internet browsing, email and some intranet access are permitted by MetroWEB Service, there are certain uses that cause extreme network capacity issues and interference with our network and are therefore prohibited.
I’m sorry if all that legalese pushed you over your data cap. It does make for gripping reading–it’s sort of like apocalyptic literature for net neutrality fans. Preferential access to certain sites, blocking of applications and categories of use, vague and contradictory terms that are subject to change at any time–it’s all in there!
Roughly translated, I think it means that you get “unlimited access” to something like the world’s worst buffet. Today it might be decaf coffee and corn flakes. Tomorrow it might be beet juice and scrapple. Either way, you’re going home hungry.