If you've got a grandfathered unlimited data plan through AT&T, you're about to be throttled once you hit a 3GB ceiling per AT&T's new official policy. Users who consume 3GB of data with a 3G device, or 5GB of data with a LTE device will be throttled back to Edge speeds until the new billing cycle begins. Because of recent consumer complaints AT&T was forced to draft an official policy here, and now we know exactly what will happen if we're part of the 5-percent of users who use more than AT&T feels is a fair share.
It's good to have a policy across the board. We have the right to know what can, and will, happen if we use "too much" data. 3GB seems like a fair place to start, this way unlimited users aren't stuck being able to use less data than tiered plan subscribers. And Edge speeds are often faster than 3G speeds on that "true unlimited" network. And throttling is certainly better than thousands of dollars in overages. On it's face, this seems like a fair compromise.
But 3 does not equal unlimited.
AT&T never promised anyone unlimited "high speed" data, so we're pretty much at their mercy. But just like it did when T-Mobile introduced it, throttling seems wrong. Sell me a phone that eats data like candy, then don't give me the data plan to use it all? See AT&T's full press release after the break.
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.
Our unlimited plan customers have told us they want more clarity around how the program works and what they can expect. Here’s what customers need to know:
Customers with a 3G or 4G smartphone – who also still have our unlimited data plan – will see speeds reduced if they use 3GB (gigabytes) of data or more in a billing cycle. Speeds will return to normal at the start of the next billing cycle. For context, less than 5 percent of smartphone customers use more than 3GB per month.
For customers with a 4G LTE smartphone – who also still have our unlimited data plan – data speeds will be reduced if usage is 5GB (gigabytes) or more in a billing cycle. Speeds will return to normal at the start of the next billing cycle.
Customers will get a text message from us before experiencing a change in speed.
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.
Not impacted by this program, launched last year, are customers on our tiered data plans.
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.