Throttling is just one of those policies nobody likes, but everyone has to live with. Even those who were lucky enough to find themselves hanging onto an “unlimited” data plan from back in the day are subject to it. Today, AT&T has decided to clarify their “unlimited” policy, detailing how much data one would have to use before being hit with the dreaded, “You are now being throttled,” text message.
For customers currently grandfathered into an unlimited account and still using one of those old fashioned 3G or 4G (HSPA+) smartphones, you get to enjoy full data speeds up until 3GB of usage. Customers currently using a more recent device with that other 4G (LTE) can download, stream and update statuses until they hit 5GB of data. Once you hit your allotment of data, AT&T will lower your download speeds to a crawl until the start of your next billing date.
There was a bit of a backlash after some grandfathered AT&T unlimited customers were reporting being throttled after only 2GB of data. One man even successfully won a small claims case, in which he was awarded $850 after finding his unlimited account throttled. AT&T issued the following 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.
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.
That’s because data activity over Wi-Fi does not count against the threshold for unlimited customers that triggers reduced data speeds or against customers’ tiered data plans. Customers can find out more at www.att.com/datainfo