AT&T to throttle unlimited data users starting October 1

By on July 29, 2011, 5:13 PM

What began as a rumor yesterday has been officially confirmed: AT&T will begin throttling mobile broadband speeds later this year. In an announcement today, the carrier said it is taking steps to cope with the exploding demand for mobile data and the resulting network congestion. At least a part of that plan will include the reduction of data throughput for the remaining subscribers of the companies unlimited data plan -- at least those who exceed a certain monthly bandwidth threshold, anyway.

AT&T explained that the change will only affect 5% of unlimited subscribers who consume "extraordinary" levels of data. Such users account for much of the company's traffic, using 12 times more data than the average of all other smartphone customers. AT&T didn't say how much data the its heaviest users consume, but if it's any consolation, the company said you could receive thousands of emails, visit thousands of sites and stream hours of video each month without making the top 5%.

"Typically what puts someone in the top 5 percent is streaming very large amounts of video and music daily over the wireless network, not Wi-Fi. Streaming video apps, remote web camera apps, sending large data files (like video) and some online gaming are examples of applications that can use data quickly," the carrier explained. As you undoubtedly realize, Wi-Fi usage doesn't count against your mobile data consumption, and that includes the 26,000 public Wi-Fi hotspots AT&T offers.

It's unclear how much you'll be allowed to use before having your speeds reduced, nor has AT&T mentioned precisely how much they'll throttle data hogs. The change will go in effect starting October 1 and we assume the company will offer more details by then. It should be noted that customers on AT&T's tiered plans won't be affected. Subscribers of the company's $15 200MB DataPlus, $25 2GB DataPro or $45 4GB DataPro plans, you should still be able to pay for unthrottled overages.

This is yet another nail in the coffin of all-you-can-eat data plans. Besides Sprint, most major US carriers have implemented metered bandwidth of some form. AT&T introduced its tiered plans last summer and Verizon followed suit this month with capped plans and $10/GB overages. T-Mobile still offers unlimited consumption, but it does throttle speeds.




User Comments: 13

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Guest said:

This was inevitable. I did some consulting at AT&T and it was a real struggle to get devices and systems in place fast enough to keep up with the demand.

Mindwraith said:

lol probably people illegaly downloading 1080p movies and cracking video games

matrix86 matrix86 said:

Mindwraith said:

lol probably people illegaly downloading 1080p movies and cracking video games

...........you must be confused. This is for the mobile network, not the cable/dsl network.

NeoFryBoy said:

"some online gaming are examples of applications that can use data quickly,"

Not true at all.

Rasta211 said:

So basically 95% of people have to pay the price for what 5% of their subscribers are doing? Guess they really want to keep all their subscribers, even the "naughty" 5%.

Guest said:

Smacks of the old grade-school thing where the entire class suffered for the misdeeds of a few. I got in on a unlimited data plan early on and have no intention of giving it up.

Guest said:

It's a lie...just another money grab...If it wasn't really about the $$ they wouldn't have such low caps. 2GB? Come on... Watch a few videos and stream tunes and you will go over that fairly quickly...How about 10GB then Throttle... That's a little more realistic while still stopping the heavy users. NEVER NEVER Believe anything is for your benefit..Yeah it use to be in the olden days...It's now all about the $$. None of them care any more...Give you less for the $$ seems to be the new directive of companies now a days. WAKE UP PEOPLE!

Guest said:

It has, and will always be, about the money. AT&T isn't in business to see what good they can do in the world, they're in business to make money.

cliffordcooley cliffordcooley, TechSpot Paladin, said:

Internet traffic is no different than consumables you buy at a Super Market. You should pay for what you consume.

Guest said:

I agree with clifford. Those who pay for unlimited should get unlimited, not have their speed throttled as a punishment.

fimbles fimbles said:

"Smacks of the old grade-school thing where the entire class suffered for the misdeeds of a few. I got in on a unlimited data plan early on and have no intention of giving it up. "

You actually paid for unlimited data without any intention of ever using it??

Guest said:

"AT&T explained that the change will only affect 5% of unlimited subscribers who consume "extraordinary" levels of data. Such users account for much of the company's traffic, using 12 times more data than the average of all other smartphone customers. AT&T didn't say how much data the its heaviest users consume, but if it's any consolation, the company said you could receive thousands of emails, visit thousands of sites and stream hours of video each month without making the top 5%."

For now, then it'll be the largest 10%, then the largest 25%, then the largest 50% then everybody with unlimited. ATT doesn't care about anybody speed, only the almighty dollar.

spydercanopus spydercanopus said:

"Congestion" is a fat lie. This is about making money.

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