AT&T Begins Warning High-Volume Data Users of Upcoming Throttling

In late July, AT&T announced that as of October 1st it would begin throttling data speeds for customers on unlimited data plans who registered in the top 5% of heaviest data users. While AT&T no longer offers unlimited data plans, customers who had signed up for such plans prior to their discontinuation, including many iPhone users, have been grandfathered in and allowed to keep their unlimited plans.


Reddit user "TheReverendZ" yesterday reported (via 9to5Mac) that he had received a text message from AT&T warning him that he had fallen into that top 5% group and encouraging him to use Wi-Fi to help avoid throttling of his data speeds. TheReverendZ notes that he typically uses 10-12 GB of data per month, as he does not have home Internet service, while "skelatwork" reports that he received a similar notice when he had passed approximately 11 GB of data for the month.

AT&T has noted that it will provide multiple warnings and a grace period before beginning to throttle data speeds, and it now appears that the carrier has begun the warning process. Customers subject to throttling will retain access to unlimited data but will see their speeds reduced until the start of the next billing cycle.

Top Rated Comments

(View all)
Avatar
113 months ago

Really.

I was under the (mistaken) impression that when one pays for unlimited access, they get unlimited access.

Throttled access ≠ No access. And as always if you're dissatisfied, switch to Sprint. Voting with your wallet always works.
Score: 22 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Avatar
113 months ago
Interesting, being in the top 5% is relative. If the top 5% reduce their internet consumption then the data limit for being in the top 5% reduces. So the more you reduce your consumption the lower the overall limit decreases.

So if everyone is downloading only 1kb per month, and someone downloads 2kb then they would be in the top 5%.

I wonder if they have a 'lower' limit?
Score: 16 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Avatar
113 months ago

Seems reasonable to me, as much as I dislike AT&T.


Really.

I was under the (mistaken) impression that when one pays for unlimited access, they get unlimited access.
Score: 15 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Avatar
113 months ago
This is almost a perfect way of handling this. AT&T is still providing unlimited access (like they promised) just at a reduced speed so you don't degrade the service of 19 in 20 for the sake of the 1 in 20 who wants to download 10GB of data per month (compared the average user which is typically under 250MB).

Effectively the guy using 10GB of data per month is throttling everybody else's service downward since there is only so much network pipe. And regardless of what AT&T does there will always be only so much network pipe. The more you increase bandwidth the more people will consume. So they need to throttle people who are over-using it and they clearly can't give any sort of minimum guarantees on bandwidth since there are so many variables.

Howerver, the problem with this is that it can't just be the top 5% of users. It needs to be two conditions:
1) You are in the top 5% of usage
2) Your network usage is greater than X GB per month (say 4 or 5 GB)

Why? Because if all these folks in the top 5% reduce their usage next month by 10%, they will likely STILL be in the top 5%. That's how percentages work. If everybody using AT&T only used 2GB of data per month on their unlimited then the person in the top 5% would be the person who used 2.01GB.

So AT&T's current policy will eventually fail if the top users seriously start dropping their usage because they will all come down together and therefore the net effect is to ask them to drop even further the next month.

I personally think that if you are using less usage than their current premium data plan (e.g.: 4GB) that they should never subject you to this throttling. Since effectively the "unlimited" plan's closest equivalent in the new structure is the 2GB + 2GB tethering plan (i.e.: the current top premium data plan).

So this is a good first step from AT&T, but it comes up short in the long run if it actually is effective in getting folks to reduce their usage.
Score: 10 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Avatar
113 months ago
10 GB of data? Good lord.

Throttling sounds reasonable in this case.

Most people who have unlimited don't really need it anyway. It's one of those psychological things.
Score: 10 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Avatar
113 months ago
Seems reasonable to me, as much as I dislike AT&T. Every other ISP has fair use policies to prevent the select few from affecting everyone else.
Score: 10 Votes (Like | Disagree)

Top Stories

Apple Doubles the Price of RAM Upgrade on Entry-Level 13-Inch MacBook Pro

Saturday May 30, 2020 4:00 pm PDT by
Apple today doubled the price for upgrading the RAM on the entry-level 13-inch MacBook Pro, with customers in the United States now being charged $200 to move from 8GB to 16GB compared to the previous $100 upgrade price. Similar increases are seen in other countries, such as moving from €125 to €250 in Germany and from £100 to £200 in the United Kingdom. Current pricing on RAM upgrade for ...

8 Mac Tips and Tricks You Might Not Know

Friday May 29, 2020 12:36 pm PDT by
There are tons of hidden features and shortcuts for Macs that Apple has built into macOS over the years, ranging from shortcuts to keyboard commands to other little hacks to make Mac usage just a bit simpler. In our latest YouTube video, we highlighted several of these tips and tricks, and some of them might just be new to you. Subscribe to the MacRumors YouTube channel for more videos. Tr...

Apple Begins Selling Refurbished iPhone XR Models

Thursday May 28, 2020 9:50 pm PDT by
Apple today began selling certified refurbished iPhone XR models in select colors and capacities for the first time in the United States. Refurbished iPhone XR models are priced at a roughly 16 percent discount compared to current pricing on brand-new units, knocking $100–120 off of the regular price. In addition to the 64GB and 128GB capacities matching current brand-new iPhone XR models, ...

Top Stories: macOS 10.15.5, New Powerbeats Pro Colors, iPhone 12 and 13 Rumors, and More

Saturday May 30, 2020 6:00 am PDT by
This week saw an interesting mix of news and rumors on the Apple front, led by the release of macOS 10.15.5, which brings a new battery health feature to newer Mac notebooks, while we also saw the official announcement of new colors for the Powerbeats Pro earphones. On the rumor front, we heard a few tidbits about not just this year's iPhone 12 but also next year's iPhone, while we saw...

Powerbeats Pro Debut in Four New Colors: Spring Yellow, Cloud Pink, Lava Red, and Glacier Blue

Friday May 29, 2020 10:00 am PDT by
Following a couple of leaks in recent weeks, Beats today is officially announcing four new colors for its Powerbeats Pro wireless earphones: Spring Yellow, Cloud Pink, Lava Red, and Glacier Blue. The new earphones will go on sale June 9 and sell for the same $249.95 price as the existing color options. Aside from the colors, the new Powerbeats Pro models are otherwise identical to the...

Apple Releases macOS Catalina 10.15.5 With Battery Health Management Features, Fix for Finder Freezing

Tuesday May 26, 2020 1:59 pm PDT by
Apple today released macOS Catalina 10.15.5, the fifth update to the macOS Catalina operating system that was released in October 2019. macOS Catalina 10.15.5 comes two months after the launch of macOS Catalina 10.15.4, which introduced Screen Time Communication Limits. macOS Catalina 10.15.5 is a free update that can be downloaded from the Mac App Store using the Update feature in the...

Apple Making It Harder to Avoid Nagging macOS Update Notifications

Thursday May 28, 2020 8:13 am PDT by
With the release of macOS Catalina 10.15.5 and related security updates for macOS Mojave and High Sierra earlier this week, Apple is making it more difficult for users to ignore available software updates and remain on their current operating system versions. Included in the release notes for macOS Catalina 10.15.5 is the following:- Major new releases of macOS are no longer hidden when...

Leaker Shares Details on 'iPhone 13' Camera [Updated]

Wednesday May 27, 2020 4:27 pm PDT by
The next-generation iPhone 12 lineup coming in fall 2020 isn't out yet, but Fudge (@choco_bit), a leaker who sometimes shares information on upcoming Apple devices, today offered up details on what Apple has in store for the 2021 iPhone 13's camera setup. A simple design drawing depicts a device with a four camera array, which Fudge claims will have the following features: 64-megapixel...

More Photos and Video of Apple's Redesigned Leather Loop Watch Band Surface

Thursday May 28, 2020 10:50 am PDT by
Images of a new version of the Leather Loop that Apple appears to have in development surfaced yesterday, and today, Vietnamese site Tinhte.vn has shared additional photos and videos that give us a clearer picture of what to expect from the new band. The bands come in colors that include red, hot pink, blue, black, and brown, with some of the bands featuring different colored accents at the...

Tile Writes to EU Accusing Apple of Abuse of Power

Friday May 29, 2020 4:29 am PDT by
Bluetooth accessory maker Tile has written to the European Union accusing Apple of abuse of power and of illegally favoring its own products. According to a report by Financial Times, in a letter sent on Tuesday to the European Commissioner for Competition, the accessory maker said that Apple is making it harder for users to use Tile products on iPhone because it has its own rival Find My...