Monday, March 12, 2012

AT&T Throttling "Unlimited" Users

It is with a heavy heart that I announce that after two years of great service and lots of great memories-- countless photos, endless videos, and hours of Pandora streaming while gaming-- I am trading in my iPhone 3GS on the AT&T network for an Android device on the Sprint network. Never fear though: my iPad isn't going anywhere and I will still keep my 3GS around for App running, testing and reviewing, although now I am expanding my horizons. Maybe I should explain why though: 

Unless you have been living under a rock the last few months you probably heard AT&T was throttling users that had an unlimited data plan. Turns out doing something like that usually doesn't sit well with the customers who got grandfathered in to the unlimited data plans, like myself. One guy even went as far as to sue AT&T and he won! AT&T plans appeal the decision although I get this sinking feeling they won't be able to actually win said appeal. On March 1st, tech sites ran the news that AT&T set the official policy out for who will be throttled if you are a subscriber of the unlimited data plan. 

Below is the exact text from the AT&T page on the matter and here is the link if you wish to read it yourself: click here

If you have a smartphone that works on our 3G or 4G network and still have an unlimited data plan,
  • You'll receive a text message when your usage approaches 3GB in one billing cycle.
  • Each time you use 3GB or more in a billing cycle, your data speeds will be reduced for the rest of that billing cycle and then go back to normal.
  • The next time you exceed that usage level, your speeds will be reduced without another text message reminder.
If you have a 4G LTE smartphone and still have an unlimited data plan,the same process applies at 5GB of data usage, instead of 3GB.
You'll still be able to use as much data as you want. That won't change.Only your data throughput speed will change if you use 3GB or more in one billing cycle on a 3G or 4G smartphone or 5GB or more on a 4G LTE smartphone.

Forgive me, but I do take an issue to this. I  understand that a lot of you have the tiered data plans already so this doesn't effect you while others of you may just not use more than 3GB of data in a given billing cycle on your unlimited plan. Here's the thing: 3GB is the exact same amount of data that AT&T offers in their tiered data system and yet they also say that 3GB if you have an unlimited data plan is excessive. Let's take a look at the wording of the contract from 2007 that talks about data throttling.

"AT&T reserves the right to (i) limit throughput or amount of data transferred, deny Service and/or terminate Service, without notice, to anyone it believes is using the Service in any manner prohibited above or whose usage adversely impacts its wireless network or service levels or hinders access to its wireless network..."

The vibe I am getting from that is this: for AT&T to throttle your usage YOU need to be using EXCESSIVE data that slows the network for everyone. Just because AT&T has a network with more users than it can handle doesn't mean  that throttling it's users is the way to handle the situation. Based on this GottaBeMobile article Verizon is a little less crazy in the way they choose to throttle their users, which makes more sense. If AT&T were to adopt this policy I would still be sticking around, and switching to Sprint in my own time when I have the money for a 32 GB iPhone 4s. With the new throttling policies though I am willing to take a hit and switch to an Android device, as Sprint knows how to treat their customers. I'll never understand how a company can call 3GB excessive and yet offer a plan on tiered data with 5GB.

Have  you been effected by AT&T throttling? Do you plan to file a lawsuit? Do you know any good Sprint Android phones that aren't more than about 100 bucks with a 2 year agreement? Sound off in the comments below.


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