What It’s Like To Be Sent To AT&T’s Data Throttle Hell [Video]

When you suck up too much data on your iPhone on AT&T, they will eventually throttle you, especially if you’re on a legacy unlimited data plan (and especially especially if they think you’re tethering through a jailbreak).

Want to know what it’s like to be throttled, though? As this video walkthrough by AppAdvice makes clear, it’s hell, a total nightmare.

Your ability to receive data drops all the way down to just 0.1MBps thanks to killiing the 3G connection and falling back to EDGE, which is what cavemen used for the Internet on their iPhones back in 2007!

The lesson here? If you’re going to jailbreak tether, either be judicious with how much you download while tethered, or pay AT&T the $20 for a Personal Hotspot to keep them happy. You don’t want to see your iPhone gimped like this.

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  • sdotbailey

    I had to go through this last month after I used iTunes Match for a few days. It’s absolutely fucking awful. Your phone is essentially useless without 3G because Edge so bad. I couldn’t refresh Instagram, Maps barely worked, sending GV messages timed out frequently. It’s a joke. What the hell are we paying AT&T all this damn money for each month if they’re not investing it in their network to handle the larger loads? It’s bullshit.

  • Daniel Hertlein

    It should be illegal to throttle while charging for unlimited data. 

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  • sdotbailey

    I agree. I was so pissed I called and was going through the process of canceling my service and moving to Sprint. But, naturally, there was a catch – since I’d just upgraded to the 4S, if I cancelled (within 30 days), they’d simply revert me back to my old plan which has a few months left on it. So, I just took to verbally abusing the lady on the phone – though I made it clear everything I was saying was meant for the recording, not her personally haha – and going after whichever poor intern monitors their Twitter account. 

    Seriously though, how is it my fault that their shitty network can’t handle data AND how am I a top 5% user simply because I bump up to the 2 GB threshold? It makes no sense. They sell 2GB plans, wouldn’t that make everyone a top user? 

  • FriarNurgle

    And it would be illegal for them to still consider it an unlimited data plan without the little * disclaimer. 

  • djrobsd

    BTW, they are throttling people without even sending them that text.  I have an unlimited plan – been an AT&T customer since the day the 3G iPhone came out, my phone is NOT jailbroken, and I had only used just under 2 gigs for the month, mostly because if iTunes match syncing data to my phone (kind of like what the other guy says below).  While at the gym, I noticed my connection had been throttled down, and I couldn’t even listen to Pandora or ANY streaming service on my phone.  Speedtest was reporting 0.12… 

    I’ve never gotten the text from AT&T, so I think they are throttling some customers without even telling them which is absolutely RUDE!  

  • tMyers327

    this just pisses me off beyond belief.  They advertise an unlimited plan but if you go over 2gb you get throttled.  At&t is just scum.  

    What makes it worse is if you look up the definition to 3G and the speeds that are considered 3G are data peeks of 200kbit/sec (which is 0.20 mbit/s).  So if you could prove that the speeds drop below 0.20 mbit/s (which it did at the beginning of the video) you might have some room to make a legal issue over it.

    There has to be some sort of ground for a class action lawsuit on this.  Because when I signed my contract they sold me an “Unlimited 3G Data Plan”.  Last time I checked throttling was a form of limiting something.

  • Ben Pingel

    I’ve gone over 2gigs of data several times on my unlimited plan and have never received a warning.  Nor have I noticed any throttling.  

  • Ed_Kel

    Do you know how and/or why they throttle? Have you read the clause in the contract you so love to refer to? The only “legal issue” you can make is an ETF waiver, otherwise, they are well within their right to throttle heavy users on out-dated plans that they were nice enough to let you keep (but that isn’t good enough, ay?). Though I’m sure you’ll refuse to accept (or believe) that.

    Stop crying about throttling. You think you’re entitled to the world when in all actually, AT&T has been very lenient on grandfathered plans and are only doing what is necessary to offer dependable speeds for EVERYONE; T-Mobile was the throttling pioneer and Verizon has followed suit, yet you cry foul to AT&T because you were finally affected. smh

  • Connor Mulcahey

    So this is what Sprint is getting at by advertising “Truly Unlimited Data”

  • tMyers327

    my bad double post

  • tMyers327

    you missed my point here…i have no issue with them throttling people, whatever. What i’m mad about is that when I signed my contract (and resigned when I upgraded) they sold me the plan of an “Unlimited 3G Data Plan”.  To me this throttling goes back against what they originally sold me.  If they came back and said “We’re sorry your Unlimited plan is being discontinued and here are the terms when your contract expires, throttling, etc.” I would be perfectly fine with it.  The issue I have is this idea of falsely selling their plans/referring to their plans as “Unlimited”

  • Montezumaa

     Ed, if the [anything but] “unlimited” data plan is “outdated”, and you attempt to claim, then why is AT&T still offering it to current customers that renew their contract?  I was offered, and accepted, the “unlimited” data plan, when I purchased my iPhone 4S when it was released.

    There is no “crying” here.  I am angry that AT&T is violating its contract with me.  I am entitled to use my data plan, as offered by AT&T.  Since I pay for this data plan, AT&T must provide me with what is currently the industry standard, which is, at a minimum, “3G”, or UMTS(for AT&T) service, not “2G”, or EDGE.

    Verizon does throttle, but Verizon only throttles when heavy users are in an area that is a “heavy use” area.  AT&T just does is across its network.  Regardless, that does not absolve Verizon, AT&T, or any other carrier from violating a contract.

    If AT&T is just problems with its network, then it needs to use the close to $20 billion USD it gets, in profit each year, towards improving its network.  Put up more towers.  Start rolling out LTE faster than it did with UMTS(which is still not complete, while we see Verizon covering much of the US in LTE).

    In short, stop acting as a shill for the providers.  It’s just sad.

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About the author

John BrownleeJohn Brownlee is a Contributing Editor. He has also written for Wired, Playboy, Boing Boing, Popular Mechanics, VentureBeat, and Gizmodo. He lives in Boston with his wife and two parakeets. You can follow him here on Twitter.

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