AT&T explains the 2GB data throttling cutoff with arbitrary data from last summer

AT&T explains the 2GB data throttling cutoff with arbitrary data from last summer
AT&T moved to tiered data plans last year, but the unlimited plans remained grandfathered, so after the announcement that top 5% of data users will be throttled for overconsumption, the people on unlimited didn't worry this will affect them.

To their surprise, AT&T began sending out notices to them as well, threatening to throttle their download speeds after they passed the mere 2GB download mark. Considering that people on tiered plans of the same price get 3GB, that seemed unfair.

AT&T has now chimed in on the whole drama, saying that according to its calculations, the top 5% of data hogs consume at least 2GB a month on average, hence this arbitrary cutoff consumption for some. The carrier also said throttling is decided on a case-by-case basis, depending on the network strain and consumption patterns.

It also mentioned that less than 1% of smartphone users have been throttled this way. Not that it's any consolation if you are one of them, or that this makes it fair, but that's AT&T's official take on the matter. The catch here seems to be that the 2GB minimum consumption of the top users AT&T uses as an argument, seems to be statistic from last summer, and things might have changed significantly since then.

source: NYT

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20 Comments

1. tedkord

Posts: 17421; Member since: Jun 17, 2009

Yeah, I'm sure this isn't a way to bully people into tiered plans or anything... "Well, sir, if you want to avoid the throttling at 2gb, you could always get 3gb for the same price. Just pay big overage fees if you pass the 3gb mark."

11. georgiaboyz

Posts: 11; Member since: Feb 10, 2012

$10/GB of overage is hardly considered a "big" overage fee...

15. 14545

Posts: 1835; Member since: Nov 22, 2011

Why should one have to pay/worry about an overage fee at all when they were/are unlimited? This is just away of forcefully pushing people on to limited data. If you are unlimited, even with some of the data hogs out there, it should mean no throttling. If throttling is/was a part of it, then it should have been/be clearly stated at a specific GB limit. Not at the carriers whim.

18. livingmild

Posts: 15; Member since: Dec 24, 2009

Very well said.

2. Slammer

Posts: 1515; Member since: Jun 03, 2010

This is classic mind manipulation from AT&T. It amazes me that this company has the amount of subscribers it has. If 2gigs a month by five percent of the subscribers is causing a spectrum crunch for the carrier, why entice these same subscribers in with a 3gig plan? Wake up people! John B.

3. bigdawg23

Posts: 467; Member since: May 25, 2011

Not all people at getting throttled at 2GB. I surpassed 2GB and didn't get throttled. It appears from all the forum threads its location based.

19. livingmild

Posts: 15; Member since: Dec 24, 2009

They're not throttling you at 2GB. They're sending you the first notification that you're usage is approaching among the 2% of users and are in danger of being throttled. The throttle happens after you reach 4GB.

4. Slammer

Posts: 1515; Member since: Jun 03, 2010

Yes. It appears to be location based. However, it still doesn't equate. If a carrier wants to claim spectrum crunch, it should remain unconditional. To slow anyone over their 2gig limit yet not throttle if they pay for 3gigs, doesn't solve the crunch issue. The sub is still using the same amount of data. It is another great example of AT&T manipulating the minds of their subscribers into dropping their current unlimited and paying more for their service. John B.

5. kcombs

Posts: 275; Member since: Dec 15, 2010

it is location based. if you are in an area where there is not that many smartphone users, you will not get more usage. if you are in an area where there are too many users, you will get throttled sooner. it's simple, if you have unlimited for $30 and you use 6GB a month, it costs the company a lot of money. remember most of the time carriers share network so yes it does cost money to share. if everyone has forgotten at&t is a business, so it needs to make profit. cell phones are a luxury not a necessity, if you don't like paying don't have a cell phone.

6. Slammer

Posts: 1515; Member since: Jun 03, 2010

All due respect kcombs, while I understand the business aspect of running such company, AT&T is simply masking the truth. That is my bone of contention. I am going to quote a point of view given that I think makes perfect sense and shows that AT&T is remaining on the misinformative track to bend the truth. ---" the top 5% of users are consuming an average of 2 GB. Meaning roughly 2.5% are consuming more than 2 GB a month (the distribution of usage could throw that percentage off a bit, but not that much). That means less than 2.5% of users would ever benefit from the extra 1 GB that the $30 plan delivers."---- This means that while future data demand may give AT&T justifcation to implement such price alteration, I simply don't see that justification right now. As I stated, AT&T claims it is because "Spectrum Demand" and "Limited Spectrum" to parcel amoung subs. If demand is real, they should not offer any step up tier. BTW, I have been a cell subscriber for more than 24 years. The historical practice of AT&T should not be brushed under a carpet. You claim that if I don't like paying, I shouldn't buy a cell phone. I chose to purchase a cellphone as far away from AT&T's network due to their endless history of manipulating the wireless industry. I don't blame individuals for choosing a carrier that may meet their needs, but I do question it. I have seen in this industry, more than I can count, that most subs purchase more than they need. AT&T is master at capitalizing on this weakness. John B.

7. devon613

Posts: 127; Member since: Oct 13, 2011

you do know other carriers do worse than this.... verizon slows down data if your on unlimited and tmobile throttles also sprint even throttles.....att is the only one that gives u more of a gap i have used 10g and havent gotten throttled...u can bash att but all carriers do it so stop complaining .....

13. Slammer

Posts: 1515; Member since: Jun 03, 2010

----" .u can bash att but all carriers do it so stop complaining ....."---- Reviewing my post, I didn't claim that other carriers don't do it. I claim that AT&T isn't telling the truth. I don't believe the other carriers are trying to evade reality by using excuses to justify. John B.

17. 14545

Posts: 1835; Member since: Nov 22, 2011

Ummm, I regularly use more than 5gb of data on verizon and have never been sent a "notice" or throttled. The point is that ATT won't put something in black and white like Tmo does. And, if I'm not wrong, VZW does. I think that VZW reserves the right to throttle after 5 GB. I wish that VZW would have never gotten the iPhone, then they wouldn't have gotten rid of NE2 and and the unlimited plans. Once they got it they had no reason to be more competitive any more in terms of services offered.

9. kcombs

Posts: 275; Member since: Dec 15, 2010

I live in an area that is not so populated, and I use 3GB a month. I don't get any notices or throttled.

8. devon613

Posts: 127; Member since: Oct 13, 2011

i agree kcombs

16. 14545

Posts: 1835; Member since: Nov 22, 2011

I have no problem with them, or verizon making a profit. But if you are going to throttle, then it should be at a specific limit, like Tmo. Not a BS rolling basis. If they are having issues with too many users, then they should add some towers are spectrum. If I were one of these customers I would ask to have my contract cancelled and leave.

10. jvtran19

Posts: 6; Member since: Feb 10, 2012

AT&T are a bunch of d-bags. If they going to change the throttle cap they probably could of just take all of the unlimted data plan holder off the unlimited data plan, Instead of coming up ways to get us off the unlimited data plan. And if they didn't try to aquire tmobile, they probably don't have to throttle the unlimited data plan holders. F.U. AT&T

12. christianqwerty

Posts: 467; Member since: May 05, 2011

i guess i am the 1%, , i get throttled right at 2gb

14. codymws

Posts: 237; Member since: Jun 17, 2010

Used 8GB so far this month on Verizon, and still running at full speed, clocking in at about 30Mbps...

20. livingmild

Posts: 15; Member since: Dec 24, 2009

At&t seems to be more interested in profit than the strain on their network. If the throttle was due to network congestion then even the tiered plans would be throttled as well. I had a discussion with an At&t representative (Harold Todd) and he seemed more interested in canceling my service because I was on an unlimited plan. At&t is only interested in getting rid of those who are grandfathered in to these unlimited plan not the congestion on their network. By the way I think At&t will still make a profit even if they didn't throttle those of us with unlimited plans.

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