AT&T explains ‘unlimited data’ user throttling, blames users? | iLounge News


AT&T explains ‘unlimited data’ user throttling, blames users?

AT&T has started to throttle—or downgrade the data speeds of—customers on unlimited data plans that go over 2GB in data usage for the month. As AT&T customer John Cozen wrote on his blog, “I received a message during my last billing cycle, warning I was in the top 5% of my region and would experience reduced data speeds next time I reach that level of data use. I immediately checked my data usage on the AT&T iOS app. 2.1 GB. Less than I expected considering AT&T offers a 3GB plan for $30 a month. The same amount I’ve paid for the unlimited data plan since signing up with them many years ago. AT&T no longer offers an unlimited data plan, anyone still on it has been grandfathered in.”

“Data consumption by all smartphone customers, including the top 5 percent of smartphone data customers, varies by month and by market,” said Emily Edmonds, Director, AT&T Corporate Communications. “As of August 2011, the average data use across the country by the top 5 percent of AT&T smartphone customers was 2 GB per month.”

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So we’re now at a place where a company can say unlimited < 3GB in marketing materials and get away with it? Also, this pretty much makes it obvious that their recent $5 price hike was nothing but a greedy money grab. If only the top 5% of users use over 2GB, who exactly is the extra 1GB benefiting? Less than 5% of their users apparently.

Posted by Tom on February 6, 2012 at 3:40 PM (CST)


Agreed that this is just complete garbage.  2GB seems to me reasonably easy to hit actually.  You just have to not pay a LOT of attention to what you’re doing on 3G vs. Wi-Fi. 

Remember the whole theory on why these phone companies grand-fathered anybody in—because otherwise the user could escape out from under their early termination fee since the company was changing the contract?  As long as you did it quickly within 30 days or something?

Had AT&T abandoned unlimited plans for at least two years before offering this?  Could somebody on one of these unlimited plans get out from under their early termination fees on a new 4GS say as a result of this change?

Or did AT&T announce it then allow more than 30 days to elapse before they enforced it so that that escape clause isn’t available?

What happens when everybody is below 2GB?  Will the “top 5%” of users now be throttled at 1.8GB if they are still on unlimited plans?  Then at 1.6GB?  Then at 1.2GB?

Somebody needs to file a lawsuit.

Posted by Glenn on February 6, 2012 at 10:24 PM (CST)


And next month, the top 5% of users will only use 1.95Gb, then 1.9Gb, and so on…  There always will be a top 5%, and this process will eventually whittle away your ‘unlimited’ data to be smaller and smaller.

And if they just make the straw smaller, it still is technically unlimited, only the maximum amount you can potentially download in a month is lowered.

Welcome to AT&T.  They know how to screw their suckers…er..valued customers.

Posted by dave on February 6, 2012 at 10:31 PM (CST)


I agree! I had the “stop throttling my connection” argument not to long ago with AT&T customer service after receiving the waring 2 months in a row. They eventually transferred me to some special top 5% customer care team and they eventually told me I wasn’t being throttled and there must be something wrong with my phone.

Posted by Steve on February 6, 2012 at 11:51 PM (CST)


I feel sorry for anyone trapped in a contract with these fools. There are nothing but crooks at the top of ATT that look for every little way they can to screw the customer and after their loss to TMobile they will be even worse. I had them for my business phone and internet and I could write a book about there unethical business practices that led to their firing. We are now on cable and have 10 times the speed at half the cost. If you haven’t been screwed by ATT, its just a matter of time.

Posted by Eric on February 7, 2012 at 7:57 AM (CST)


I just got a push from AT&T, on the 12th day of my billing cycle. My data usage… 7764.6 MB. WTF?  I haven’t even approached the 2 gig arena.

Posted by I am the top 5% on February 7, 2012 at 8:30 AM (CST)


#6: 7764.6 MB = 7.7 GB. How do you come to the conclusion you “haven’t even approached” 2 GB?

Also, has nobody noticed that the AT&T rep quoted in this story was completely non-responsive? Stating what the average data use of the top 5% is does not remotely address the specific issue of whether or not an “unlimited” user is being throttled.

Posted by Eliot on February 7, 2012 at 10:15 AM (CST)


After the UK networks decided to cap most data plans they now seem to be uncapping them with ‘all-you-can-eat’ plans.

And after procrastinating for way too long I have decided to dump O2 and move to “Three”, due to the really poor O2 network coverage in my area. We’ll see if the “all-you-can-eat-data” plan means just that!

I’ve used the 3 MiFi for a few months now with decent 3G/HSDPA network connection speeds, where I can only just expect a basic GPRS one on O2…

Posted by Bob on February 7, 2012 at 11:39 AM (CST)


I think that you all need to revisit the definition of unlimited.

unlimited |ˌənˈlimitid|
not limited or restricted in terms of number, quantity, or extent (as long as not over 2GB): the range of possible adaptations was unlimited (up to 2GB or below that of the top 5%).

I don’t think that Merriam Webster could be any clearer.

Posted by Scottrey on February 7, 2012 at 12:47 PM (CST)


For me, it’s been an opportunity to bash AT&T to everyone I talk to for weeks. I am sure it’s been the same for everyone else. They are losing money in public perception and goodwill far outstripping any savings they realize in reduced bandwith usage on 3G.

For me it’s especially insulting because my 3G usage of my phone is mostly when I am at work in downtown LA, and my connection speed is horrible. I have gotten tired of using my Mark the Spot app to notify AT&T of the pathetic service at my desk, or anywhere outside in the South Park area of downtown LA. I have been in the top 5 percent of unlimited users, perhaps, but not at any sort of respectable speed. AT&Ts; dataspeeds to me are ALWAYS throttled. Sometimes it’s just their lack of adequate coverage downtown, through lack of planning or insufficient interest in improving coverage downtown. Other times it’s purposeful due to their throttling. I actually PREFER being throttled, because at least that way I can understand why things are so damn SLOW.

All that being said, will I switch over to Verizon? Eh—I dunno. I used to switch providers routinely, hoping for better service and reception, and every switch brought as many issues as solutions, so I am not sure.

Posted by Yoshiyahu on February 7, 2012 at 2:46 PM (CST)


Oh. And to Dave’s point, about the clever use of ‘top 5’ percent to keep moving the throttle point lower and lower, until you are throttling people the moment they turn on their phone; since my speeds are so awful anyway, I have actually taken to purposely amping up my usage, and I suggest everyone else do it.

Posted by Yoshiyahu on February 7, 2012 at 2:46 PM (CST)


Tmo throttles at 5GB. I use an average of 3GB every month. Throttling at 2GB is just unreasonable. Carrier Coverage will prove this, if more than 5% people reach 2GB, then AT&T can’t throttle people on those terms. They would have to increase that amount since that’s grounds for being sued for falsely accusing.

Posted by Epic_Guest on February 7, 2012 at 8:56 PM (CST)


This is soooo ripe for a lawsuit, come on someone class action these greedy .....  Under no legal definition should unlimited have dropped to below that of a documented rate!  I want a refund for all the years i have paid for 3 unlimited accounts as there was no mention of throttling.  We also so need the government to step in and put some limits on misleading advertising, I am paying for unlimited so I can do as I choose at standard speeds, they were so stupid to offer unlimited they must now live by it.  Fine print should not be allowed to override outrageous and flat out reckless claims like unlimited, free for life, price locked no matter what the economy does - these companies and thier executives need to be forced to live by what they say in the big print period!  Nothing will change till the executives are held personally responsible, make them earn the outrageous salaries as their boards shure don’t, how stupid does an exec need to be to offer tmobile a $4B if a “guaranteed to be blocked” takeover deal does not go through, why are we stuck in contracts with less benefits that we signed up for paying for his stupidity!!!

Posted by We need a lawyer on February 7, 2012 at 11:56 PM (CST)


Technically there not breaking any rules they are not saying that you cant have unlimited data. There is nothing in your contract about a guaranteed speed there might be a mention of top speed but then it will have a disclaimer saying this only happens when everything is perfect. I’m not defending AT&T here they have given me lots of problems but one of the issues with coverage is that there not allowed to put up the antennas or repeaters in some areas where they need them. It can also take awhile to get clearance to build a new tower because you have to go through multiple federal agency’s. They do make promises that they barely keep that’s a fact. Another issue they are having is you can only have so many people talking on one antenna at one time and over the past few years more and more people have gotten cell phones truthfully just about everyone has cell phones that can figure out how to use them. All of those phones and a lot of people dropping home phones for cell only has drastically overloaded there capacity. Like I said I’m not defending them this is just some things I know about them what they need to do is seriously up there capacity. When they try doing that though all the other cell company’s start hollering antitrust that they will get to big.

Posted by Jake Thompson on February 12, 2012 at 4:08 AM (CST)

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