AT&T to throttle unlimited data plans for heavy users | iLounge News

AT&T to throttle unlimited data plans for heavy users

AT&T has released a statement in which it reveals plans to throttle data speeds for its heaviest data users starting October 1. According to the company, customers on unlimited data plans who reach a usage level that puts them among the top five percent of heaviest data users in a giving billing period will see their data throughput speeds reduced, although not before receiving multiple warnings and a grace period. “These customers on average use 12 times more data than the average of all other smartphone data customers,” says the company. “This change will never impact the vast majority of our customers, and is designed to create a better service experience for all…. To rank among the top 5 percent, you have to use an extraordinary amount of data in a single billing period.” The change will not affect customers who are already on the company’s tiered plans.

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This is ridiculous! I pay for an UNLIMITED data plan. Why should I get penalized for actually using what I am paying for?!?

I hope AT&T get some major backlash from this episode. It’s one thing to drop unlimited data from their plans for new customers… But what’s the point of letting us keep an unlimited plan if we can’t actually utilize it???

Posted by curtis unlimitedata on July 29, 2011 at 4:51 PM (CDT)


Like Comcast, I am sure they will have to tell what this artificial cap is. It had better be many times lower than the amount of their highest data plan!

Posted by jiji on July 29, 2011 at 6:40 PM (CDT)


The interesting thing is that they went and provided precise numbers, claiming that the top 5% use an average of 12X more than the average of the bottom 95%. That math does not in any way support AT&T’s position, in fact it just shows what an underdeveloped and incompetent data provider they are.

Let’s say the bottom 95% use an average of 1GB for the billing period, so the top 5% are using an average of 12GB. At first glance, sure, that seems like an extreme and unfair hogging of the airwaves but… that still means the average data use for all users would only be 1.55 GB. In other words, AT&T is claiming that with their existing infrastructure and customer base they can’t even provide a 50% increase in data throughput and maintain acceptable performance for all users.

In other words, if it’s true that this ever shrinking number of grandfathered unlimited customers are capable of killing their network performance then they are flat out admitting that growing the number of smartphones on the AT&T network by 50% any time in the near future would similarly destroy performance.

What company basically puts out a press release to say they have no plans in place to handle the continuing growth of smartphones?

Posted by Code Monkey on July 30, 2011 at 7:08 AM (CDT)


what percentage of unlimited users have Iphones since that would probobly be the target group that have grandfathered accounts? ATT is finding a way to get rich on the data charges by squeezing the customers that have a unlimited data plan

Posted by rich on July 31, 2011 at 8:46 AM (CDT)


@4: Your comment makes no sense. The whole point of the grandfathered unlimited plans is that they are… UNLIMITED. It’s a fixed cost that for anyone who routinely uses more than 2GB data/month is cheaper than going with their current fixed plans.

They’re not getting rich off of these people no matter what phone model they have. What they’re trying to do is make the “unlimited” plans as limited as possible to avoid having to reinvest profits in growing their infrastructure on the “outdated” 3G networks. However, as I pointed out, their justification for throttling is also a tacit admission they have no capacity for growth or plans to address it. This is even more true if they mean they’re only going to throttle 5% of those with unlimited plans, as opposed to throttling the top 5% of all users (which just happen to be those with unlimited plans) - if that’s the case, my example is off and it could mean they’re claiming even a 10% growth in subscribers would destroy their current network performance.

Posted by Code Monkey on July 31, 2011 at 10:24 AM (CDT)


att needs to buy me out of my 4 iphone contracts . i have the unlimited plan on 1 phone becuase i have had my plan with them for years.  i was pissed off when they made me buy data plans for my other 3 phones that i pay $25 a month for a 2gb data plan that is not much. so i have noticed that they have been slowing down my internet speed for about 5 months now so they have been doing this and now claim that they will be doing this later. but listen to me they are a fraud. i will not renew my contract.

Posted by tony on July 31, 2011 at 9:29 PM (CDT)


I think this just might be the thing that pushes me back to Sprint, my coverage for Att has been crap but stayed only for my grandfathered plan. I like my iPhone but I will have to let it go.

Posted by Vaughan on July 31, 2011 at 9:56 PM (CDT)


Well, the first time they throttle speed on my 3G iPad is the last time they get money from me for iPad service.  I’ll probably have to keep my iPhone coverage and will simply use my MiFi with 3GB data/month for connecting using the iPad.

Lesseee, who loses?  ATT gets $30 a month less and I lose what?  Oh, yeah, I lose unlimited data at glacial (throttled) speeds. Not much of a loss, that. Guess that means I’ll be $360 ahead at the end of the year.

So, go ahead ATT. Throttle my unlimited plan. You lose!

Posted by Woody on August 1, 2011 at 12:08 PM (CDT)


“Unlimited” NEVER MEANS UNLIMITED.  It is just like “Lifetime Guarantee” never means “lifetime”. 

“Lifetime Guarantee” usually means the company’s lifetime, not the consumers’s lifetime.

There are always limits - particularly for those at the extremes.

For those who want terrabytes of data, then “unlimited” is very limited at a 3G bandwidth.

AT&T doesn’t need heavy bandwidth users - unless the users PAY for the data.  They can tolerate dropping such users.  So tough luck if you want terrabytes of data.

Posted by James Katt on August 1, 2011 at 1:03 PM (CDT)


AT&T actually wants customers to be upset about this.  Upset customers are likely to be the ones who get throttled, if they’re upset enough to leave they become Verizon’s problem, making the network less congested for everyone else.  Should those same customers return, no more unlimited plan for them.

Pretty crafty, actually.

Posted by hardcle on August 1, 2011 at 8:09 PM (CDT)


Big deal. Ever hear of wifi, power users?

Posted by Dick Bacon on August 2, 2011 at 5:10 PM (CDT)

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