9:14 am February 14, 2012, by David Markiewicz
Are you someone with a smartphone unlimited data plan who tends to go a bit overboard in using it?
Then prepared to be throttled.
According to a report from the Associated Press, AT&T is cutting data speeds for its heaviest users of cellular data. It’s a practice known as “throttling.”
The biggest data hogs among its 17 million customers with unlimited data plans (about half its smartphone users) could be affected by the policy which seeks to manage data usage on its network by cutting data speeds.
Downloads can be slowed significantly so a Web page takes longer to load.
California business man Mike Trang is one of those affected.
Trang “likes to use his iPhone 4 as a GPS device, helping him get around in his job,” the report says. “Now and then, his younger cousins get ahold of it, and play some YouTube videos and games.
“But in the past few weeks, there has been none of that, because AT&T Inc. put a virtual wheel clamp on his phone. Web pages wouldn’t load and maps wouldn’t render. Forget about YouTube videos — Trang’s data speeds were reduced to dial-up levels.”
Said Tang, “It basically makes my phone useless.”
AT&T stopped signing up customers for its unlimited plans in 2010, and last year said it would start slowing speeds for people who use the most data.
According to the AP, “AT&T spokesman Mark Siegel said that as of last summer, the top 5 percent of data users were using 2 gigabytes of data per month. But he also said the company doesn’t actually throttle all of the top 5 percent ‘unlimited’ data users. Last month, the figure was only 0.5 percent, or about 200,000 people, he said. That’s because AT&T only throttles users in areas where the wireless network is congested that month.”
Get inside Atlanta's and national business news and how it affects you.
Vacation stops, manage subscriptions and more