AT&T still throttles its customers with unlimited LTE data

AT&T still throttles its customers with unlimited LTE data
Sometime next year, AT&T promises that it will stop automatically throttling the data speeds of its unlimited 4G LTE subscribers. In a statement made on Thursday, AT&T passed along this news of good cheer. But the nation's second largest carrier refused to say if this action would take place closer to the beginning, middle, or end of 2015.

AT&T has an uneven throttling policy. For those customers with a 3G or non-LTE 4G phone, or who have been grandfathered with a unlimited data plan, throttling takes place after 3GB of data has been employed inside of a month. And this data speed slowdown occurs only "at times and in areas that are experiencing network congestion." So if you live in an area that has a low population, chances are you won't have to worry about AT&T taking out the big stick. Any throttling is done only until the start of the next monthly cycle.

On the other hand, the carrier's throttling policy for those with unlimited 4G LTE data is a bit tougher. Regardless of network traffic conditions, once you exceed 5GB of data usage in a month, the tall shadow of AT&T can be seen hanging over your mobile device, throttling your data speed for the remainder of the month. And we are talking about a 24/7 slowdown until the start of the next billing cycle.

AT&T customer Julian Benton of Santa Rosa, California is a prime example of what is going on. His Apple iPhone 6 has had a tremendous drop in data speed on AT&T's 4G LTE network, from 23.51Mbps to just 0.11Mbps. It currently is holding steady at about .5Mbps. Benton's slowdown started on November 19th, and his current month doesn't expire until December 9th. Ouch! With his children home for the holidays, the home Wi-Fi network started to slow down too much, forcing the AT&T subscriber to turn to a cell tower right near his home. 

Benton is a victim of AT&T's attempt to get all of its customers off of unlimited service, and into a plan that will have them pay overage for surpassing a monthly data cap. 80% of the mobile operator's subscribers are on a limited plan leaving guys like Benton as part of a small group of holdouts. When he contacted AT&T about his situation, the company basically told him not to use streaming music and video services unless he is on a Wi-Fi connection.

But change is coming. Next year, AT&T will treat unlimited LTE users the same as the other unlimited subscribers it has left. And that means that these customers will have their data slowed only when network conditions warrant it. Just when this switch comes might determine whether AT&T loses a few subscribers, or a lot more than it would have wanted to.

source: arstechnica via BGR


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