AT&T data usage doubles every year

AT&T data usage doubles every year
Since 2007, the year that the Apple iPhone was introduced and launched, AT&T has seen data usage over its network at least double every year. In fact, over the last five years, this growth of data usage has amounted to a staggering 20,000%. AT&T Senior Executive VP John Donovan wrote on the carrier's Innovation Space blog that the growth in smartphones is behind these amazing growth figures. AT&T added 8.9 million new customers in 2011 and the nation's second largest carrier set a company record with the sale of 9.4 million smartphones during Q4. With the new Apple iPhone 4S launched during that period, AT&T activated a carrier record 7.6 million iPhones during the holiday quarter.

Of course, all of this growth does have a downside. How will AT&T be able to have enough space on its network for all of its smartphone users? Donovan says that the mobile operator has spent $95 billion over the last 5 years trying to expand the wireless infrastructure. $20 billion was spent in 2011 alone and led to over 150,000 improvements in its wireless pipeline. Another $20 billion has been budgeted for spending on wireless infrastructure this year.

AT&T has been trying to rid its rolls of those who in the past, signed up for a $30 per month unlimited data plan. While the carrier hasn't forced anyone to drop their unlimited plan, AT&T has a more devious idea. Throttling customer's data speeds back to 2G rates , AT&T is trying to make keeping an unlimited plan so unpalatable that customers are going to want to switch to a tiered data plan.

We recently told you about an AT&T customer who received an email that his data was getting throttled after showing up among the top 5% data hogs in his region despite using only 2GB of data up to that point. Others have been contacted after using as little as 1.5GB of data, according to the Huffington Post. AT&T meanwhile, now offers 3GB of data a month for the same $30 that used to cover a month of unlimited data. But by flagging those using as little as 1.5GB of data, the carrier is saying that you are worse off paying $30 for unlimited data with the risk of getting throttled, than you are to buy 3GB of data per month for the same price.

For its part, AT&T told the New York Times that going over the 5% threshold in a region doesn't automatically slow your data speeds. If network conditions warrant, even a bonafide data hog might not get data reduced to 2G speeds. As an AT&T spokesman said about those receiving a warning about getting throttled, "There’s a very good chance you wouldn’t be slowed."

source: AT&T via TechCrunch, HuffingtonPost



8. atheisticemetic

Posts: 377; Member since: Dec 18, 2011

ATT is not going to be the number two carrier for long imo. how awesome would it be if Tmobile got the ok to buy out ATT after they got shut down? :D

9. Forsaken77

Posts: 553; Member since: Jun 09, 2011

Really? Who do you think will take over the #2 slot? Tmo? Just so you're aware.... Tmo uses alot of AT&T's towers because they don't have all their own. If you combined Sprint AND Tmo, you still wouldn't be close to AT&T. Verizon/AT&T are so far ahead of the others that they'll never be able to fully compete on the same scale. They've been entrenched in this industry since the telephone was invented! And alot of you dropped AT&T along time ago. In my area their service quality has improved 200%. I get the same coverage as Verizon. And they ARE making infrastructure improvements. The guy just stated they made 150,000 network enhancements in 2011. That alot! Overall they get the best phones, they have very comparable coverage to Verizon (except if you live out in the sticks), and when their LTE network is complete they'll have the best up & running network available with HSPA+/LTE. In alot of places I get faster speeds on AT&T's HSPA+ than my friends do on Verizons' LTE! So I don't know WHAT you people are talking about. Either you have no idea and are just hopping on the anti-AT&T bandwagon, you experienced their bad service before they changed to Cingular and think it's still the same, or you live in a very rural area that they really don't service. So obviously you people are in the minority if 9 million NEW people just signed up. And AT&T is obviously STILL the place that iPhone users flock to, despite it being available on 3 of the 4 carriers.

11. ardent1

Posts: 2000; Member since: Apr 16, 2011

> In my area their service quality has improved 200%. I am happy for you. Unfortunately, based on Consumer Reports, ATT still has crappy service for most of their customers when compared againt major wireless carriers, respectively.

12. atheisticemetic

Posts: 377; Member since: Dec 18, 2011

I've sold ATT and Tmobile for a while...i'm well aware of what towers and technology they use. Their customer service is awful and they flat out lie to you on the phone (even to reps). The only reason they're still number two and will stay that way for a while is because they already have the network established. However all it takes is time... i'm glad you were able to detect my sarcasm in my first posting. " I get the same coverage as Verizon." this is relative and you cant compare apples to oranges (CDMA vs GSM...hell even LTE vs LTE wont be the same). Secondly, they are not the same in coverage of this I assure you. You may get the same coverage as Verizon where YOU travel, but the rest of the US would beg to differ. I sold it for a little over 3 years side by side with Verizon...they are NOT the same "The guy just stated they made 150,000 network enhancements in 2011. That alot! Overall they get the best phones..." again this is relative, however I dont believe I saw an ATT phone on 'best phone of the year' award, which would factually indicate that you sir are mistaken based on a majority opinion. Secondly their 150,000 network enhancements they are making would still include their 3g network. Verizon is putting 0 dollars into their 3g network and pouring it straight into their LTE. Lastly, GSM does not span as far as CDMA, so when they used to have the slogan "we have more towers than Verizon" that was simply because if the technology doesnt span as far you have to put up more towers to compensate for it. Being spoon fed from "the guy" doesnt help your case... " In alot of places I get faster speeds on AT&T's HSPA+ than my friends do on Verizons' LTE! So I don't know WHAT you people are talking about." I actually dont know what YOU are talking about. I have a 4g LTE phone and often times get 25 meg down and have done side by sides with ATT HSPA and smoked it every time. There are a lot of variables here that you are missing... " Either you have no idea and are just hopping on the anti-AT&T bandwagon" I clearly do have an idea, as i'm very well educated in cellphones and its technologies. ATT sucks and will continue to suck because i'm not going to pay comparable pricing to Verizon and deal with their customer service as a rep or as a customer. you are clearly an idiot that got a few thumbs up for ATT fanboys

10. W.P._Android_in_that_Order

Posts: 208; Member since: Feb 15, 2012

haha. that would be awesome if Sprint had a serious come back and overtook ATT

13. atheisticemetic

Posts: 377; Member since: Dec 18, 2011

they are talking about using the 800 megahrtz network to expand their voice calling (as 800 spans further than most frequencies from what i remember). I'm very interested to see what Sprint can do. I would love for them to bring my Verizon pricing down ;)

7. JC557

Posts: 1927; Member since: Dec 07, 2011

This is why I'm a bit understanding with the somewhat higher cost of Verizon (though they should never get away with nickel and diming) as they at least make timely fixes or improvements to their network that is also being shared with Sprint and some regional carriers. I accept T-Mobile's and Sprint's relative lack of coverage due to their reasonable pricing but AT&T has no excuse which is why I dropped them a few years back.

6. ardent1

Posts: 2000; Member since: Apr 16, 2011

I said it before, ATT is bandwidth constrained. Data usage is in increasing exponentially due to smartphones and tablets and mobile hot spots. There isn't enough bandwidth and with limited supply, you can expect ATT to continue to raise their fees. I was an ATT customer with the original Moto Razr (the flip phone); too many dropped calls and I never went back.

5. StringCheese01

Posts: 64; Member since: Jan 27, 2012

So so so happy I finally broke free of AT&T's crappy network coverage, crappy customer service, and crappy HSPA speeds. What good is their new LTE network if I can never use it? I feel like a huge weight has been lifted off my shoulders, I don't know why I stayed with them so long..

4. Giggity

Posts: 147; Member since: Nov 17, 2011

"There’s a very good chance you wouldn’t be slowed." Customer: Why did you throttled me? I thought you said it wouldn't happen? AT&T: Reporters must have misheard know "can, can't, would wouldn't"..whoopsie.

3. TKFox007

Posts: 303; Member since: Nov 02, 2010

All that growth and none of it's profits went to infrastructure that would of prevented the massive crippling that all that data usage caused.

2. theBankRobber

Posts: 682; Member since: Sep 22, 2011

Just another way to get more money from their customers. This should be investigated as the person isn't even anywhere near the average 5gb limit. I can see this being a huge problem with all carriers , maybe not now but it will soon be a hand full.

1. squallz506

Posts: 1075; Member since: Oct 19, 2011

This article is just a long list of reasons why Ill never be on at&t.

Latest Stories

This copy is for your personal, non-commercial use only. You can order presentation-ready copies for distribution to your colleagues, clients or customers at or use the Reprints & Permissions tool that appears at the bottom of each web page. Visit for samples and additional information.
FCC OKs Cingular's purchase of AT&T Wireless