AT&T Revamps Throttling Policy, Only Slows Unlimited Users above 3GB/Month
AT&T is retooling its throttling policy with regards to users with unlimited data plans, originally implemented last year. Instead of throttling customers on a case-by-case basis, users are going to be slowed after a fixed amount of data usage each month.
3G/HSPA+ users with unlimited data plans will be slowed after 3GB of data usage, while 4G/LTE users will be slowed after 5GB each month. AT&T spokesperson Seth Bloom gave MacRumors this statement:
With mobile data usage continuing to skyrocket and the availability of spectrum scarce, AT&T, like other wireless companies, manages its network in the most fair way possible so that we can provide the best possible mobile broadband experience for all our customers.
How we’re managing the network only affects a small minority of the heaviest smartphone data users still on unlimited plans. Put another way, this does not impact more than 95 percent of our smartphone customers.
Even with reduced data speeds, these customers will still be able to email and surf the web, and continue to use an unlimited amount of data each month.
The reason reduced speeds only apply to unlimited smartphone customers is because their data usage is significantly higher than those on tiered plans. For example, in January, the top 5 percent of our unlimited data plan customers used an average of over 50 percent more data than the top 5 percent of customers on tiered plans.
Because spectrum is limited and data usage continues to soar, we manage our network this way to be as fair as possible and so we can provide the best possible mobile broadband experience to everyone.
We encourage all of our customers to use Wi-Fi whenever possible – especially when watching video, which is the most data-intensive activity.
AT&T has set up a special website focused on the changes. An extremely heavy user in California recently took AT&T to small claims court over the throttling of his "unlimited" data plan and won a $850 judgement.
Some users had reported getting throttled after as little as 1.5 or 2GB of monthly usage, so the bump to 3GB is a significant increase for them. It also offers the same amount of full-speed data usage, for the same price, as the current metered offering. Both the old "unlimited" data plan and the current 3GB data plan cost $30/month.
Other users have recently reported seeing more usable data speeds after being throttled, allowing them to email and surf the web at a more reasonable speed than was originally being provided.