AT&T confirms plan to throttle heaviest unlimited data users Oct 1

in iPhone edited January 2014
AT&T has released a statement outlining its plans to balance the demands of its grandfathered unlimited data subscribers to protect service capacity of new users via data throttling of the top 5 percent of the heaviest users.

"Like other wireless companies, we're taking steps to manage exploding demand for mobile data. Many experts agree the country is facing a serious wireless spectrum crunch. We're responding on many levels, including investing billions in our wireless network this year and working to acquire additional network capacity. We're also taking additional, more immediate measures to help address network congestion," AT&T states in a press release.

The company notes that "Starting October 1, smartphone customers with unlimited data plans may experience reduced speeds once their usage in a billing cycle reaches the level that puts them among the top 5 percent of heaviest data users."

The data throttling will only kick in for users with unlimited data plans, not for newer users who have signed up with tiered data plans. The limits will also only occur once unlimited data users reach the top 5 percent of the company's data users, which AT&T says "you have to use an extraordinary amount of data in a single billing period" to do.

Affected users are already consuming, on average, 12 times more data than other subscribers in general. While the new change distorts the definition of "unlimited data use," the measure is intended to help the carrier accommodate all of its subscribers as fairly as possible.

AT&T discontinued the practice of offering unlimited data contracts this year, offering slightly cheaper plans albeit with a fixed limit of either 200MB ($15) or 2GB ($25) of monthly bandwidth, both of which incur extra fees when that limit is exceeded.

Verizon announced plans to do the same this month, offering plans that cost $30 for 2GB, $50 for 5GB, and $80 for 10GB, with tethering costing $20 extra and including an additional, independent 2 GB bucket of bandwidth.

AT&T, like Verizon, encourages users to use WiFi networks when "streaming very large amounts of video and music daily," the typical reason why a user would fall into the top 5 percent of data consumption.

Unlimited data users who fall into that top 5 percent group will get reduced download speeds throughout the end of their current billing cycle. AT&T suggests that user who do not want to experience slower download speeds opt for using WiFi networks to reduce their demand on the company's mobile network, or choose a tiered plan than enables them to pay for as much mobile data as they can consume with no limits on speed.

The company also reminds users that it desperately wants its $39 billion bid to acquire T-Mobile to go through, stating that "nothing short of completing the T-Mobile merger will provide additional spectrum capacity to address these near term challenges."



  • Reply 1 of 64
    macrrmacrr Posts: 488member
    the bullshit is so thick here I'd have to look at the gov's high school like debt debate to find thicker.
  • Reply 2 of 64
    richwissrichwiss Posts: 12member
    It's going to turn out that those top 5% of users are exactly the set of users who use more than 2GB/month, which means that all those Unlimited plan users are paying $30 for what everyone else is paying $25 for.
  • Reply 3 of 64
    mbarriaultmbarriault Posts: 237member
    Americans: Welcome to Canada.
  • Reply 4 of 64
    jeffdmjeffdm Posts: 12,951member
    Unlimited has always had an asterisk on it, they might as well do away with it completely or give better definitions of what will trigger the the throttle. Top 5% is meaningless as it's almost impossible to independently verify or track that, but if you have a GB trigger point, then you can track it.
  • Reply 5 of 64
    tallest skiltallest skil Posts: 43,388member
    Originally Posted by JeffDM View Post

    Unlimited has always had an asterisk on it, they might as well do away with it completely.

    The asterisk, you mean.
  • Reply 6 of 64
    macsharkmacshark Posts: 229member
    Not declaring an absolute BW limit (e.g. 4GB/mo) but using a vague measure like "when your usage reaches the level of top 5% of users" is absolutely disgusting.

    They might as well have said "we will chose not to offer you service whenever we feel like it".
  • Reply 7 of 64
    macrulezmacrulez Posts: 2,455member
  • Reply 8 of 64
    Originally Posted by MacRulez View Post

    Your ISP Is Screwing You: As Your Service Costs Go Up, Their Backbone Costs Go Down

    problem is not with backbone. Problem is tower beeing too crowded!
  • Reply 9 of 64
    Thank God I use Sprint.
  • Reply 10 of 64
    onhkaonhka Posts: 1,025member
    Originally Posted by mbarriault View Post

    Americans: Welcome to Canada.

    What does that mean?
  • Reply 11 of 64
    mactoidmactoid Posts: 112member
    I thought you got 4GB of data when you elected the tethering plan for $45/month???
  • Reply 12 of 64
    Originally Posted by mbarriault View Post

    Americans: Welcome to Canada.

    Does that mean I have to go to hockey games now?

    Get. I meant do I get to go to hockey games.
  • Reply 13 of 64
    mazda 3smazda 3s Posts: 1,612member
    I wonder how long it will be until AT&T cuts off us unlimited data users altogether and forces us onto tiered plans? I'm still on an unlimited plan courtesy of my 3GS days (currently using it with my iPhone 4).

    I'm betting that whenver Apple switches to LTE with the iPhone, they're gonna start cutting us off.
  • Reply 14 of 64
    auxioauxio Posts: 2,529member
    Originally Posted by Onhka View Post

    What does that mean?

    It means that our mobile service providers have never had unlimited data plans -- and they generally rake in the biggest profits in the world because we get charged for every little thing up here. Partly due to lack of competition, and partly because the government doesn't do anything to regulate all of the hidden charges and convoluted contracts which basically set people up for high cellular bills.

    Trust me, I believe in buyer beware as much as anyone, but I've seen some pretty shady clauses in cellular contracts here.
  • Reply 15 of 64
    Dear Americans,

    Don't feel bad about getting throttle by AT&T. Here in Canada, even our DSL internet gets throttle by our ISP especially Bell Canada - the master of all throttle. So if you don't go crazy with your mobile data plan, you will be okay. It could have been worst... like being in Canada


    A friend from the North
  • Reply 16 of 64
    tallest skiltallest skil Posts: 43,388member
    Originally Posted by darren76 View Post

    Thank God I use Sprint.

    Yeah, how's that iPhone treating you, by the way?
  • Reply 17 of 64
    solipsismsolipsism Posts: 25,726member
    I'm boned. Well played, AT&T, well played.
  • Reply 18 of 64
    macrulezmacrulez Posts: 2,455member
  • Reply 19 of 64
    jexusjexus Posts: 373member
    Wait...was I supposed to act suprised?

    Ok hold on...
  • Reply 20 of 64
    satcomersatcomer Posts: 130member
    This is an outrage! What is the excessive use to AT&T? 2G/month or 5G/month? As a grandfathered AT&T customer I am feeling like they don't appreciate me as a user. The Unlimited account was the only reason I have jumped and AT&T just lost me as a customer (that rarely goes over 2G a month - only during a vacation).

    Edit: I actually only use no more the 70MB during the past 5 months.
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