Hey data hogs, AT&T may throttle you

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.”

9 comments Add your comment


February 14th, 2012
9:45 am

I download a ton of music and movies–att better not cut my service or I’ll drop them in a few months and go with verizon.

dominic calderone

February 14th, 2012
10:08 am

So the fact that att has and can control your unlimited data usage is completely true
They have even more tricks under the hat. It has been a long term concern of mine that they have the abilities the invade your privacy at several different levels. ÀTT will most likely come up with a new option to buy for another fee and call it like 5g , but it be the signal but opened up a little more


February 14th, 2012
10:15 am

Why would ANYONE change from one Ma bell to another one. Verizon is just as bad! That’s why I switched to metroPCS and DO have unlimited voice/data/texting, better coverage and it only cost $50 a month with no contract! I had an iPhone – I like android better!

Neil Lesser

February 14th, 2012
10:30 am

When government gets in the way of plans to buy and implement spectrum by AT&T or communication companies, this is the tip of the iceberg on what can happen. AT&T is trying to be pro-active for the benefit of its customers. Would you rather many users have problems with their smartphones or just a few who are at the top of the frequent users distribution? When a communication company banks on its plans to meet customer needs and politics get in the way, count on more of this necessary response, costs going up, and serious slow down in our technology rollout unless it squeezes more out of existing spectrum.

Richard Lipps

February 14th, 2012
12:10 pm

Neil, stop drinking the Kool-Aid. Data is cheaper to deploy than voice and AT& T is just trying to rip us off


February 14th, 2012
12:34 pm

I really don’t understand why everyone is getting upset. There is a demand for data so of course all wireless companies are going to cash in right now. WIFI is rapidly taking over and then what will the companies do so they have to get the money for data now. Very few people actually need unlimited data with so much WIFI access. Once I started connecting to WIFI, my data usage increased but the amount I’m charged for went way down. I don’t come close to needing unlimited even though my overall usage says I should. People freak out when they they think of giving up unlimited, but if they really looked at how they are using their data, they don’t need it.


February 15th, 2012
2:09 pm

Last year ATT capped DSL use, now limiting data use. Neil blamed it on the gov but DSL has nothing to do wit the gov. I find that ATT reporting of DSL use to customers is false – they say you use more than you do so as to cause you to voluntarily cut back prior to exceeding caps and getting charged more when you are no where near them. Every time I call support they tell me my use is way less than their web page says. When I get charged, I complain and they remove it BUT what about users who don’t know better. ATT has had this “system” in place for months and can’t get it correct so it is not just malfunctioning, it is knowing FRAUD. I have asked for supervisors to call me back and they never do. Next month I will contact the GA Attorney General rather than ATT.

ATT is just selling services and limiting what they give to maximize profits because they can; customers be damned. IF gov got in the way, it might tell ATT that they have to actually provide what they sell and make them report accurate use to customers.


February 16th, 2012
11:21 pm

the government needs to do something about this, quick! they need to order ATT to stop limiting service or they will sue!

Frank Fitton

February 20th, 2012
1:31 pm

Of course ATT customers are going to be upset about their data being throttled, your not getting what your used to getting. Times have changed though and you have to advance with the times. Unlimited data was a good ride but you can’t fault them for throwing you a curveball to fit into reality a bit more. It all comes down to basic manners and the rules of living in a society. Its etiquette, the good of the many is more important than the good of the few. Verizon hasn’t done it yet for people on 4G such as myself, but I envision it happening in the future. The unlimited ride was sweet, but read some Emily Post and take this one on the chin folks. Stop whining and move on.

Check out my blog on the ATT data throttling situation at……… http://www.gosellcrazy.com/2012/02/att-data-throttling-just-etiquette/