Is AT&T tightening the screws on unlimited iPhone users with new, overly aggressive data throttling?
Is 2GB really all it takes now to be considered a "top 5" iPhone data user by AT&T and have your data throttled down?
AT&T now seems to be throttling iPhone users on grandfathered, unlimited data plans when they hit a paltry 2GB of data usage. We all know AT&T has been threatening to throttle iPhone users on unlimited data plans for quite some time now. AT&T announced data throttling last August and started implementing it last October. Since then we've heard from some of our readers that they were getting throttled down to 2G EDGE speeds. And it seems to be getting even more egregious.
As a rational person -- and long time customer -- I had a hard time believing it. I've been using anywhere from 4 to 8 gigabytes a month since October and never received any warning from AT&T. In fact, I told everyone in our AT&T forums that I had not yet received the infamous text message from AT&T, accusing me of being a "top 5%" data users.
blockquote>Smartphone customers with unlimited data plans may experience reduced speeds once their usage in a billing cycle reaches the level that puts them among the top 5 percent of heaviest data users. These customers can still use unlimited data and their speeds will be restored with the start of the next billing cycle. We're writing because you are in the top 5 percent of heaviest data users for this billing cycle.
It came in just as I approached 2GB. That's what apparently qualifies as a "top 5%" here in Chicago. 2GB. Two days before the end of my billing cycle.
I immediately called AT&T and asked them -- 3 of them of the course of several hours -- two simple questions: Why, all of a sudden, after previous months of heavy use, did I receive this message and why, when I am paying for "unlimited" data am I being crippled just at two gigabytes?
They had no answers for me.
So I began to think about it some more and realized the previous few months I was using my unlocked Galaxy Nexus. Did that have anything to do with flying under the radar? Or did I simply switch back to my iPhone 4S around the time AT&T decided to take these new, overly aggressive tactics?
Or is there simply no consistency or rationality with how AT&T is going about their data throttling? Do some people, depending on the area and month, get away with 5 to 6 gigabytes with no issues while some are getting nailed at 2 gigabytes? Is 2 gigabytes the new magic number based on all of the complaints in our forums and responses that I received on Twitter?
Whatever the case may be, it sure seems like AT&T is putting the screws to unlimited iPhone data users, trying to push us into giving up our grandfathered plans and pressure us into taking one of their new, limited, tiered plans instead.
And that sucks, plain and simple.
AT&T offered a service, we signed up for it, we paid them for it, and now they're reneging on the spirit if not the letter of that service. They're breaking faith with their customers.
Maybe they don't want our particular type of user any more, maybe they'd rather we go somewhere else, but if they're willing to do this to one group of users, they'd do it to any group of users, at any time. And that's a terrible way to run a business.
Unlimited data plans were sold to iPhone users from day one. AT&T needs to stand by them. If they want us to switch to tiered plans, make those plans better. Offer free tethering, or make 4G LTE exclusive to those plans and wait for the iPhone 5 to drive demand for it. Make them so attractive we can't wait to switch. Don't do it by making our existing plans worse.
But AT&T has unlimited data users right where they want us, and they seem to be pulling out all of the stops to get rid of us.
Have you gotten throttled for using 2 gigabytes yet? Did it get you to switch to the new, tiered plans? And how does it make you feel about being an AT&T customer?
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Something does not add up. More likely, they are targeting the unlimited users because they are only paying $30/mo. It is not about the bandwidth, it is about the revenue
With that said, I don't like that this is being done to my fellow users but to criticize them by saying you're not getting what you pay for is simply incorrect.
Throttling is more effective. You don't get the criticism simply by ending unlimited. It's a more ninja approach. You don't even have to say who gets throttled. Just throw out percentages and say they're dynamic in nature from each month.
The reason they don't do free tethering, and you know this, is because people would tend to use more data. AT&T doesn't want that. They don't expect people as it is to use much of their 2GB. These numbers are for marketing purposes. I'm sure many switched to 3GB thinking they were getting a deal just for 5 more dollars. Nope, that's AT&T raising their plans knowing most customers will still use less than 2GB per month.
Assuming they're correct they are indeed throttling the top 5%
In fact, calls will eventually be moving to voip with LTE.
This is how I fight back.
When I get throttled down, which is almost unbearable. I set my phone to never lock and consistently leave pandora, Netflix, or any other streaming service running. AT&T said I used 2gb in two weeks that's why they slowed me down. I managed to add another 4gb to my usage by eating up their data. I'm hoping they will realize what they are doing is wrong. But it it only raises the "average" data usage, that's fine too.
I'm mostly peeved because they can throttle my data when I go over 2GB. However, I spend most of my day in Chicago with 3G and 4 bar symbols on my phone and yet facebook never loads and iMessages never send. So do I get to throttle someone at ATT then?! I'm getting NO data at that point and I'm standing outside within one of their service locations...
And yes, I am on the unlimited plan, but I think I have gone over 2GB once. I am usually between 1-1.5 Gb a month
I was a 2.1GB and was told that "everyone over 2GB will be throttled!."
The final message said I was in the top 5% but that they MAY slow me down until the end of the pay period. I immediately checked my speed and I was already slowed down.
Calling them prior to the throttling made absolutely no difference. They couldn't explain where my data usage was coming from or what I could do to manage it.
I tended to download 2-3 podcasts/day which I think could have added up to a couple of GB/month, but I stopped doing it prior to the slowdown. Apparently made no difference.
I will give the CSR credit for his honesty. He was blunt when he said that everyone over 2GB will get throttled, effectively rendering the unlimited plan useless. He wan't thrilled about it either, because he also has an unlimited plan.
I replied, "Then that means it's going to slowly curve down to a minimal 1GB in due time for the 'top 5%.'"
The manager replies, "I will not respond to "if" scenarios."
Are you serious? This isn't an "if" scenario! If I plot a graph, it would depict a curved slope on a graph 100% PREDICTING your course of defining "top 5%" - slowly dwindling down to the Y-axis.
So I concluded that 2 GB was the new throttle zone. But then AT&T changed their data tiers again, so I am wondering if the throttle zone has been bumped up to 3 GB. I've just entered my new cycle so I'm gonna take it easy and in three weeks start probing for the mythical, ethereal, data boundary.
And when the 1.8GB+ users are all reined in, the top 5% threshold will be 1.5GB
Lather, rinse, repeat.
First time I've seen anything like this. It's only going to get worse is my guess.
Now I'm in Philly and get a warning at 5GB. Is this really regional I wonder?
Class action suit time.
Additionally, for business purposes, I'm about to get a portable 'hotspot' device. Not a chance in Hell it will be from AT&T. 99% sure I will go with Clear.
I have the iPhone 4S 64gig and have NO PROBLEMS with my data speeds
And u CAN'T beat the Prices either
I'm in Richmond Va and I'm a HAPPY SPRINT Customer
Everybody KNOWS AT&T Sucks
This is another case of our greedy and dishonest corporate mentality. Get used to being screwed more and more.
I didnt buy a faster phone to be used on AT&T , only to slowed down.
is there a Facebook page focused on this 5% throttle ?
The best thing for everyone to do is file a complaint with the FCC. It takes 30 seconds and AT&T has to answer to each complaint filed I simply stated they are threatening to affect my service without providing any info as to why. If I am in the top 5% for my area tell me what the top 5% use each month and tell me what my region is. I am ok with throttling if they can back it up with real usage stats, otherwise as far as I am concerned they are simply using mob tactics by twisting our arms. It is their network to throttle who they want and I am ok with it if they just come out and say they are doing it to make us switch to tiered, not talk about a mythical 5% of users.
Less than 1GB used... But the download speeds were very fast. I'm thinking it is the impact on the network, that is, throughput, that triggers this, not the actual bytes.
It's BS. my brother and I are looking at sprint.
ME: so you dont know how many GB's are considered the top 5%? 2GB? 3GB? ...???
Betty Joseph: You are severely exceeding everyone else's usage. This email is just informing you and anyone else that uses unlimited data that you may see a slow down in your data service.
ME: so you dont know how many GB's are considered the top 5%? 2GB? 3GB? ...???
Betty Joseph: You have used 6399.30 MB on the line ending in ****.
ME: i know that
Betty Joseph: Anything exceeding 5GB receives a notice.
ME: thank you!
So if I get a text or throttled before I reach 5 GB I will be sure to use this when I call and complain.
In the past 4 months (Oct-Jan) I've used: 3.1, 4.6, 3, 3.4
I haven't noticed any throttling yet though.
I posted this issue in the at&t forum on 01-23-2012, 02:09 PM.
Here is a repost:
For the 2nd month in a row, I have gotten a bogus data usage message from at&t. I called up at&t support and asked my usage. My billing cycle is the 6th of the month. It is now the 23rd of the month. In those 2 ½ weeks, I have used 2.1 G is data. Oh and I forgot to say I have the unlimited plan. If I double the data for the next 2 ½ weeks, I get to 4.2 G. I can’t believe that in the NYC area, I am in the top 5% usage! I would think that anything about maybe 8G would be top 5%. Ok, even 6G a month. But 4G? Please…
And the support person was giving me excuses like: “Well it isn’t only how much you use, it is also how fast you use the data”. What? Another gem was: “Well you might be in the top 5% in your geographic area.”. WTF? I told her that I am in the NYC area and I can’t believe with the population density of the area, that my measly 2.1G was in the top 5%. All she could say is that it is a computer generated message. And I said: “All I can say is that you have a computer generated bug”. I did say that it isn’t her fault and I’d like to speak to a manger (which she already claimed she was one) above her. It’ll take 72 hours before I get a call-back. I’ll keep you all posted.
This is the 2nd month I got this bogus message.
All AT&T customers need to make sure they use EVERY BIT OF DATA on their play EVERY MONTH...PERIOD. So if you have friends on AT&T with iPhones tell them to use all their data...cuz it seems they are hitting us first, after using us to be the carrier with the most subscribers...
The plan should be to use your phone as you would normally. But as you get towards the end of the month and you are still below the 2GB limit, turn off wifi and stream some movies or some music or something.
ENOUGH. ENOUGH. ENOUGH. It is time to fight back.
And the next person that steps to me with some GOP BS about the market solving it capitalism I'm gonna go ballistic medieval Chicago Hot Dog style up in here!
I started that Forum post about this issue. As Jeremy says, and I can verify, I am being throttled down to .04Mb - .06Mb downstream. That is practically unusable. If the calculation is true above (about 5 million users being effected), that is one heavy class action lawsuit.
I understand throttling (don't agree with it tho), but .04mb? That is unusable.
My only recorse right now is to go to minimum data plan and investigate companies like Clear (althought I don't think they have unlimited anymore and were accused of hidden throttling as well).
What they are doing is illegal and you can break the contract because of that !!! A new customer pays for the gigs that they use , the customers with unlimited data plans pays for the speed (3g) if they change that its a breach of contract !! Thats my two cents !!!
Yeah I read about Clear in some article last year about this hidden throttle.
My Data was throttled, and my new billing cycle started today. I reset my Cellular Usage Statistic yesterday afternoon. Since I got my speed back, which is less than a day:
1. Per iPhone's Cellular Network Data, Sent = 5.8 MB and Received = 9.4 MB, which brings the total data usage close to 16 MB. Per AT&T website, my data usage is 55.97 MB!! The difference is 4 times what is actually recorded by my iphone. People need to be aware of this. AT&T at the moment is being sued for the exact issue: over charging of data usage.
1.Unlimited data plan
2. Same Market
3. Same billing cycle
those three factors all have to be the same and that is who they compare me too. She was able to see where I had used 4-6 GB in previous months but advised that doesnt matter and that if I continue to use this much data I will be throtteled back. She did try to sell me on numerous occassions to switch back to the tier planned...
Now until next month I have a text messaging phone. Way to go AT&T looks like i'm gonna have to buy out of this contract and go to Verizon and get there 5 gig deal. It really bothers me because I never used over 4 gigs with them and now my "unlimited data plan" means "Unusable data plan"!
THIS IS RIDICULOUS!
I understand I use a lot of data and the polite thing to do is share the wealth. But I also believe I'm entitled to use as much data as I like given that I signed up and pay for unlimited.
That said, I'm also among users whose data is not just being throttled, it's being crippled.
This is unacceptable. I'm furious. ALL AT&T users, data heavy or not, should also be furious. This is highway robbery.
I was told (off the record) by an AT&T employee that there are many factors that decide throttling; but most importantly it's "based on being in the top % of users in your market (location)" meaning that there's a smaller sample size to choose from and that data statistics are likely to show data usage to be smaller thus making the throttle threshold smaller. Furthermore, the second key factor I was told is that (to their knowledge) there is no magic number that AT&T has decided to throttle users, that instead its a month to month sliding scale, again based on top % in your market. I was kindly asked not to repeat this btw.
This leads me to conclude that AT&T is purposefully and maliciously engaging in measures to not only throttle/punish heavy users, but also intentionally work to drive down ALL data usage.
I'd like to start throttling how much I pay.
We need to stand together and fight against big orange. We need action. We need a class action suit.
AT&T's throttling practices needs to be the new SOPA/PIPA.
I'm considering starting a petition site. I'll post the link if I pull the trigger. At the very least, we can maybe start to collect information to start a class action suit.
The main problem I'm unhappy about is not necessarily the throttling in general, it's the fact that while the defined set of guidelines that determine throttling might be clear, concise and well thought out to benefit the majority of users (as AT&T claims), the guidelines have not been clearly publicized which force users to walk on data eggshells. The secrecy behind the practice implies that something less than honest is taking place behind the scenes. There isn't a single reason I consider valid for AT&T not to have full transparency for this practice.
And if they decided your costing them too much and cancel...can we apply the Early Termination Fee to THEM? Unless the contract specifically says its a 1 way thing, I don't see any reason why we can't. And that should hold up in court. Then you can use the "fee" u receive to pay for another iPhone on a different carrier.
My state's AG did not require my contract because they stated at the time unlimited data and 3G was on the display sign and that would incur I have unlimited 3G data.
So after I got the message and supremely complained and become a thorn, my account is back to the 5GB "unlimited". Call and complain. You'll get your answer.
If AGs threaten to sue based on the signage, advertised meanings, and common assumption, AT&T will shut up.
Please join me at facebook.com/NOthrottle, and let's stand together and FIGHT AT&T. Post screenshots of speed-tests, provide links to articles such as this one, and help restore the age-old adage "THE CUSTOMER IS ALWAYS RIGHT". Most of us shell out over $100 to AT&T EVERY MONTH for their service, and NONE OF US paid less than $200 for our original devices when the "unlimited" plans were still offered. facebook.com/NOthrottle : FIGHT AT&T "Unlimited" Data Throttling!!
My average usage is well under 1 gb. Only thing different this month is I added iTunes match and have listened while commuting and I streamed 1 Netflix show.
ATT sucks but nothing else is better. May use my CLEAR hotspot with iPad and get a cheap phone, LOL.