Last week, an iPhone user was awarded $850 in throttling case against AT&T. At that time, we had mentioned that the court ruling could have serious consequences for AT&T as it could pave the way for more lawsuits against AT&T or at least force AT&T to stop throttling unlimited data plan subscribers.
It looks like it has at least forced AT&T to change its throttling policy. Few weeks back, we had reported that AT&T was throttling down top 5% of the unlimited data plan subscribers to 2G speeds. If that was not bad enough, users have reported that they have been downgraded to the pathetically slow 2G speeds after using less than 2GB of monthly usage. Unlimited users were furious with AT&T’s throttling policy as it offered a 3GB data plan for $30 (which is the amount they were paying for their grandfathered unlimited data plan).
MacRumors reports that AT&T spokesperson has told them that with the change in its throttling policy, “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.”
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 also launched a new website for smartphone customers with unlimited data plans.
Is that good enough?
We don’t think so. While throttling the data at less than 2GB monthly data usage was a major issue and it’s good to see AT&T being forced to change it, 3GB is still not “unlimited” and in our opinion the bigger issue is that users are getting throttled to 2G speeds making it almost impossible to surf the web on smartphones like iPhone.