It turns out that even the vilified “top 5% of unlimited users” generally don’t exceed the amount of data available by tiered plans. Think about that for a second – customers with grandfathered unlimited plans tend to be among the longest standing and most loyal customers, yet in many cases they were getting their data throttled long before they had used as much data as a tiered customers is allowed to, even though both customers pay the same monthly rate.
The only reasonable conclusion is that carriers were trying to harass some of their best customers into changing to tiered plans, even though it would have essentially zero impact on network congestion. Recently, the big networks have relented somewhat; after being on the losing end of a very public small claims court decisions, as well as getting the sort of press coverage that makes corporate VP’s reach for the Pepto-Bismol, AT&T (long the worst offender) changed its policy, allowing unlimited data users to consume as much data as their tiered cohorts before getting throttled.
But why should the carriers be so interested in saving you a little money (and therefore hurting their bottom line)? There are a couple of obvious answers; they can sell tablets that otherwise get sold in Best Buy or Apple stores. And if more people have smart devices that might translate to more people using V CAST, or the Verizon Navigator. But there’s actually a much bigger reason, and it has to do with revenue growth and basic math.