AT&T Is Now Throttling “Unlimited” Customers Using More Than 2GB Of Data

AT&T Is Now Throttling “Unlimited” Customers Using More Than 2GB Of Data

If you’re still boasting a grandfathered-in unlimited iPhone data plan, AT&T’s just effectively said they’re going to stop honoring it. If you use more than 2GB of data per month, AT&T will now throttle your data speeds down to completely unusable levels.

AT&T has been forecasting for a while its intention of throttling heavy data users if they fall within the top 5% of unlimited data users, and started sometime in December. When the first users were throttled, though, they were using 10GB+ of data a month… an excessive amount by most estimations (although again, AT&T has signed a contract with them promising them a la carte data, so hardly beyond the pale).

Now, though, unlimited customers who merely go over 2GB in a billing cycle are finding themselves tossed into AT&T’s data throttle hell.

Over on his blog, John Cozen describes his own experience being throttled at a mere 2.1GB a month. When he contacted AT&T, he was told firmly that there was no mistake, and that going over 2GB per month on his unlimited data plan automatically made him one of the “top 5% of data users.”

The only way to get his 3G speeds back? Predictably, AT&T wanted Cozen to change to a tiered data plan. And Cozen is not alone.

So here’s the new world order, AT&T “unlimited” customers. AT&T has decided that you may very well be an unlimited data customer, and recognize that by law they must honor their contract with you. However, they never promised you that you’d be able to get both unlimited data and fast data: you have to pick one or the other.

AT&T treating customers like dirt? What a surprise from the wireless provider voted worst carrier in the country for two years in a row. I smell a class-action lawsuit, frankly. This is just a complete insult to unlimited data customers, almost all of whom have been loyal customers since the original iPhone.

Has AT&T’s new data throttling policies affected you? What are you going to do about it? Let us know in the comments.

Related
  • Acenna Portenzo

    I predict they are going to be losing a lot of customers. That is the dumbest thing they can do right now when other cellphone carriers like Verizon and Sprint also have the iPhone. That’s a balsy move for a company that doesn’t have exclusive rights to the iPhone anymore. Boo AT&T

  • z0mki

    A few weeks ago I received the dreaded text message from AT&T warning me I was soon to be part of the 5% club.  I immediately checked my data usage and discovered I had not even used 1.5 GB.  I called AT&T and questioned why I was being throttled when I had yet to meet 2 GB.  After speaking to 2 reps who continued to quote the 5% rule I decided to give up.  This tactic is extreme bad business.  I cannot wait for the class action lawsuit and will be filing a complaint with the FCC.

  • Ian

    Very disappointing indeed. True to your article I’ve been a loyal AT&T customer since my first iPhone. I’ve been receiving the “we’re about to throttle you” text messages around the 3.0GB mark. I haven’t actually seen any change in performance but I’m certain I soon will. 

    Anyone have good reviews on using Clear for their wireless data usage while maintaing the lowest possible service via AT&T

  • Omaha Sternberg

    The only reason I have stuck with AT&T this long, since the original iPhone, has been the unlimited data plan that I got grandfathered-in. My spouse and my daughter are also with AT&T (though not on the unlimited plan). If AT&T is going to pull this crap, they can say goodbye to me.

  • Dennis Otremba

    NOOOOOO!!!!  Don’t switch to Clear, Inc. for internet.  I tried it for 6 months and finally gave up.  Their “4G” service never exceeded 1.5 Mbps on the Speedtest using iPhone, Macbook Pro or iPad.  At least this is what I experienced in Minneapolis MN.  And, wowy, you wanna experience bad customer service – worst EVER from ANY company.

  • Dan Mulholland

    As much as it pains me, I just might switch to Verizon…I really dislike Verizon for they screwed me on a data plan back in the day.  Its tough for me to say but AT&T just might lose me as a customer…Especially if Verizon and iPhone 5 will really be on 4G’s faster speeds.  Heck maybe even Sprint…

  • fernsf

    This is b.s. and horrible business. when the contract is up in June I will cancel my remaining line. I’m so glad I switched to Verizon last year. If everyone using over 2GB is part of 5% of their customer base, then they must have a tiny customer base. Idiots.

  • Bob Penn

    Was also hit by the 2GB wall a few weeks ago. The CSR freely admitted that it will happen to everyone over 2GB! I ranted in my blog for those who want to read and weep:
    http://www.bpenn.com/news/2012

  • Robert Bigouette

    This explains a lot really – gonna have to break out the lawyers!

  • Real666

    I’m going to go back to sprint. They have the iphone now and unlimited data so AT&T re going to lose a lot of business. Iphone is what kept them in business and now they messing that up.  

  • Weapons Grade Stupid

    Sign me up for the Class Action Lawsuit when it’s filed. I held off on upgrading to a 4s for just this reason. It’s a data hog, and by waiting until the iPhone 5 comes out this summer, I’m free of my 2 year commitment and can tell AT&T screw you and go to Sprint. … assuming Sprint doesn’t pull the shame shenanigans with it’s “unlimited” plan it’s advertising.

  • Dan

    I agree that the only reason I stayed with AT&T was that I has a grandfathered in unlimited plan.  I guess if they are gonna give me the shaft I will return the favor and leave for Verizon.

  • Agree (with Alumnus)

    Is it not true that you can terminate contract WITHOUT ETF PENALTIES with at&t if (when) they “substantially change” the service they provide… I better go download a copy of the contract because I just renewed it…  If true, then people can just quit and walk away with their iPhone 4s… maybe…

  • John Branham

    spring is horribly slow guys… unlimited data is not worth it. I’m on my phone 24/7 and barely go over 2 gb on ATT

  • Ed_Kel

    Unlimited does not mean unrestricted. Quit your whining and switch to a tiered plan like the rest of us.

  • prometheus1981

    “AT&T is going to loose business because customers will leave”

    I hate to break it to you guy’s but AT&T can care less, look at the outcome back when unlimited was dropped and it’s “damage” to AT&T, it’s been 2 years and they still have the largest iPhone customer base. On a plus side, I still don’t have to worry about passing my data cap and having to pay the penalties.

  • prometheus1981

    Winter is slower but I think you meant to say Sprint.

  • prometheus1981

    “Is not true” and “maybe” in a same comment. Love it.

  • Timothy Williamson

    I received the text (after using 2.5 GB’s in 16 days), while typically I use 3-4 GB’s per month. So far I haven’t noticed throttling (I’m in the Sacramento, CA region).

  • Ed_Kel

    Don’t forget “if true”…

  • kevinvia

    Hasnt effected me. I’m never under 4 gigs and I don’t get throttled.

  • concernedonewho

    When you first signed up for unlimited data, they did not tell you you can only use 2GB of the data. The contract says unlimited. They did not say they will throttle anything over 2GB. If they said that, then I would not have signed up for that plan. They better honor the contract!

  • Ed_Kel

    AT&T uses an algorithm that includes a users average usage and area. A user in NY that averages 2GB/mo may get throttled at 2 whereas yourself averages higher in Sacramento. I would suspect that you wouldn’t be throttled until the 3.5-4GB range. 

  • Ed_Kel

    Technically they are honoring your contract by not charging you overage rates. Unlimited does not mean unrestricted. And maybe next time you sign a contract, you should read it. They don’t have to tell you shit; you signed a written contract, not a verbal contract.

  • prometheus1981

    I totally agree with you, but as I have learned every time you sign a new contract for a new phone they don’t necessarily keep it the same, also I have been told that there is a clause in the contract that while you cannot leave without paying a penalty early, they can basically do whatever they want and change your plan during the 2 year timeframe if they feel like it. Meaning that if tomorrow, they decide to drop the unlimited plans of everyone who was grandfathered in and move them to the 200mb (or whatever it is now) plan without your consent, they can and if you don’t agree with it you can leave but you still need to pay your penalty for leaving early. The only way for this to be stopped is a class action lawsuit. The other thing that would fix this (permanently and for every carrier) is that the internet be turned into a necessity like power and water and that it needs to be provided in an unlimited matter (but that is just money butt talk).

  • zzazazz

    Wow, I am grandfathered in with Verizon and they let me go crazy with the data.  I’ve been with them for over five years and have been very happy with their service.

  • prometheus1981

    I’m in the same (exact) situation and I might break out my old Motorola Razor and my iPod Touch and drop their data crap. I might drop them all together.

  • prometheus1981

    Clear throttles you out the yin-yang. Don’t do it man, it’s not worth it!

  • Christopher Vaccaro

    I have gotten the “you are within the 5%” text message crap. I cant believe that either! AT&T is usually pretty good service, but seriously? first its text messaging ($20 unlimited or bust) and now this?! With my unlimited text-plan, do I have to worry about when the message will reach the recipient? What a load of sh*t

  • JoshMiller

    Here is the angle to push, thought it might be hard. Is “anyone over 2GB” actually in the top 5% or is 2gb an arbitrary cut off

  • Timothy Williamson

    Does anyone have a link to the AT&T grandfathered unlimited plan text?

  • Timothy Williamson

    Does anyone have a link to the AT&T grandfathered unlimited plan text?

  • prometheus1981

    It’s like they are bitting the hand it feeds them. They really hate iPhone users and they have always hated them from the start even though they are the ones who bring the big bucks.

  • prometheus1981

    I think AT&T is trying to convince people that having an unlimited data plan is the equivalent to a more expensive 2GB plan and that they should just switch to one of the tiered plans and move away from unlimited.

    Nice try AT&T but NOPE!

  • FriarNurgle

    I really really dislike Verizon, but if the iPhone 5 is LTE then AT&T is going to loose a ton of customers pulling this crap. 

  • Ian

    Wow, huge thanks! I was seriously considering it. No way now. I guess I’ll continue to bend over for the time being..

  • Ed_Kel

    Hated iPhone users from the start? Mind explaining to us why they shelled out massive amounts of cash for exclusivity rights?

    P.s. Throttling affects ALL users, not just iPhone users.

  • FriarNurgle

    Ditto on all accounts 

  • prometheus1981

    AT&T saw the iPhone and said “PROFIT!” but when the amounts of data consumed by iPhone users started, AT&T was like “SHIT GUY’Z, ZE MISSLEZ, ZE ARE COMMING!”

    EDIT: Added AT&T For clarification.

  • Ed_Kel

    You start your comment off with “I think”, then end with “Nice try AT&T”?…….Fail.

    They use an algorithm, which any bias article so conveniently leaves out, that uses the customers average usage and region. Somebody that averages less in a densely populated area may get throttled earlier than someone that averages more in a less populated area.

  • Ed_Kel

    Hmm. interesting you say that. I have no choice but to take your word for it. I mean a well educated scholar like yourself, with perfect spelling and grammar, can’t be wrong, right?

  • Dave Abrams

    Nowhere in the contract did it say I will be throttled if I am in the 5% of users, either.

  • BuckyThreadkiller

    Unlimited doesn’t mean unrestricted? What dictionary do you use? The special lawyers and politicians variable definition one that says words can mean what you want when you want? If that’s the case, both you and AT&T can popsicle a thermometer up your collective lawnmower.

  • Mike Prost

    i got throttled when i went over 2GB last month, with 5 days left on my billing cycle.  i speed tested the “3G” connection that i was still paying for (which is normally around 4.5 mbps) and the throttled speed came in at 0.1 gbps, with the upload staying equal at about 1 mbps.  i’m hoping for a class-action suit.  i pay for 3G speed.  if they want to throttle, that’s their perogative.  but when the throttled speeds make my “3G” slower than GPRS 2G, then what exactly am i paying for?  because i was under the impression i was paying for unlimited data on a 3G network, at 3G speeds.  if they’re going to throttle at all, the only way i could see AT&T not getting themselves involved in litigation over it is for throttled speeds to still be faster than EDGE speeds.  otherwise, they are no longer delivering the product purchased by the consumer.

  • Ed_Kel

    On the contrary my friend, nowhere in the contract did it say you WON’T be throttled. It does say, however, that you agree to AT&T changing terms without consent. You also acknowledged that your contract does not guarantee performance. I can’t help but laugh at people who have the hardest time understanding what contracts are really written for.

  • jotjen

    Ed -

    Please disclose who your employer is. Based on your comments you must have a connection to AT&T.

  • joewaylo

    They’ve altered their TOS too many times to count. Their first major change was iPhone 4 when they decided that tethered phones would eat too much data and they told users they must be on a two choice plan. 2GBs or 250GBs and extra charges for Tethering.

    Recently it’s now 5GBs and Tethering fees included.

    Now apparently they’ve altered their TOS to include data throttling for those who enjoy going 2GBs or higher every month. Just like T-Mobile who throttles you if you go above 2GBs and Sprint apparently does throttling as well.

  • prometheus1981

    You are correct my good man. My ambition was that my previous comment did not leave you flabbergasted by my eloquent choice or words.

  • Agree (with Alumnus)

    “Is it not true…” followed by maybe… Thus question, not statement of fact! 

  • Ed_Kel

    In this contract, Unlimited simply means that AT&T cannot charge you for overages. Unrestricted means that, although you are granted unlimited access for one low rate, that access may become restricted in that your transfer speeds may slow down. I’m astonished by the narrow-minded, sense of entitlement type attitude that I’m gathering from you and others on a contract that YOU so happily signed! Some people’s kids.

  • Cleverson De Moura

    Same exact thing happened to me, Mathematically that is total bullshit. If it is the top 5% it has to fluctuate. One moth will be different from the other and the 5% cap should change. This is a horrible way ATT is treating they long term customers. BTW ATT told me that if I paid for the 3Gb or 4Gb plans I would not be Throttled at 2Gb. Now can someone explained that to me. If its the 5% it should be everyone reaching that 2Gb level. The minute I can switch to another carrier I will.

  • Ed_Kel

    It seems as if my comment went right over your head. That’s okay.

  • prometheus1981

    Well, based on the comment that @JoshMiller:disqus made and the fact that the original article did not make any mention regarding such algorithm it would  be impossible for me to point out the clarity of your massive knowledge on the subject. You must have stayed at a Holiday Inn last night. My only regret is that you did not put your response before mine to allow someone else to bash it with the elegance that you employed to bash mine.

  • John Branham

    the article’s illustration was a little overkill don’t you think?

  • Agree (with Alumnus)

    at&t is a business, and the prime directive of ANY business is to make money… you maximize money by increasing so called “productivity” whether of the worker or of the service or whatever…

    the working definition [relatively loosely] of “productivity” is getting the maximum output for the minimum input, whether that is how much you pay a worker, how much gas you put into your engine, management-labor relationship, etc., etc. 
    I am constantly amazed that people continue to have loyalty to companies, etc. I am also amazed that in America, even people who could understand the basic concept that their employer will (in the long term) want to decrease their pay but maximize their work output in an ever escalating race to the bottom…

    as Woody Guthrie famously sang: “I’m sticking to the union…”

    Ed: Does it say in the contract that you WILL be throttled? If it does NOT, and at&t continues to advertise 3G speeds (and now 4G, LTE, etc.), the customer can have a “reasonable expectation” that they will get fast service… I suspect that this kind of thing would certainly stand up in small claims court for the customer and against at&t…

    I may be wrong, but it is probably worth a shot… and at&t has to come to YOUR location to litigate, they have to send lawyers, and all of that for a few hundred bucks… its probably not worth it to them…

    Just my 2 cents worth…

    David vs. Goliath… It actually does work! Note my last “complimentary” upgrade from Chicago to London on American Airlines that did not cost me any extra frequent flier miles!!! Nice!

    :)

  • Ed_Kel

    I partner a civil engineering firm. I am no lawyer, but my education in business (M.B.A.), along with my Professional Engineering (P.E.) license has given me a basic understanding of legal practice in a corporate setting. I get involved with conversations like this because I am astounded at the stupidity of people in regards to their contract with AT&T. They are whining and moaning about a fair “consumption-to-price-ratio maneuver” AT&T has engaged in while refusing to acknowledge that the very contract they signed gives AT&T the right to take such measure.

  • sdotbailey

    No, not at all. Fuck AT&T. I dealt with this last month. 

  • aSpaceApe

    My wife and I had iPhones and dropped AT&T because of how outrageous the cost was. We had the original unlimited plan and I would be mad reading this too (had we still had them), this is exactly how you lose customers. Thank you work phone!

  • prometheus1981

    It seems that my comment in response to your comment went right over your head. But that is also ok.

  • sdotbailey

    I dealt with this last month after turning on iTunes Match. Since most of my day is spent at work and our wifi sucks balls, I just roll with 3G most of the time. So, turning on iTunes Match and playing with it basically destroyed my data in couple of days. I got told that I was in the top tier all of a sudden and my data plan essentially became useless. Couldn’t load maps, Instagram, nothing worked basically. Google Voice texting was basically out of the question unless I was on wifi somewhere. 

    It’s pathetic that they’ve resorted to this. What have we been paying at least $100 a month for for the last 5 years for if they still can’t handle data demands? I tried to leave but of course there was a loophole – I’d been eligible for early upgrade to the 4S. I did so and sold my 4. This throttling occurred during the first week or owning the 4S. I wanted to just return it and cancel but, of course, had I done that, I would’ve just reverted back to my previous 2 year agreement and have been stuck without a phone. I’m screwed for a couple years now, it appears. I ended up taking my frustration out on whatever intern was monitoring their Twitter account that night. 

  • Ed_Kel

    I’m not trying to pick on ya, but you left it wide open for insult. You “think” AT&T is doing something, then give a big “Nice try” as if it were true. 

    There are so many articles out there about this. Articles that state the very reason throttling occurs along with how it’s calculated. Educate yourself with the subject before you voice opinion. Who knows, maybe you’ll understand why carriers throttle and perhaps even agree with it.

  • sdotbailey

    Ed, do you work for AT&T PR or something? All you’ve done on this thread is defend AT&T though not explicitly. You’ve been dropping subtle hints that they’re just not in the wrong. They are. They’re evil. They’re pricks.

  • Ed_Kel

    I’m beginning to believe that you may have a hard time coming up with your own material…? Must be tough to handle that along with the obvious obsession of needing to have the last word.

  • Ed_Kel

    The only thing I can see AT&T doing is offering free ETF just to bury the matter. You make good points.

  • Ed_Kel

    I have had stellar service with AT&T which allowed me to approach with a cooler head. Can you blame me for taking such a sharp, opposing stand? Somebody has to pour water over the fire. Take a breath and ask yourself this – are you mad because you don’t agree with AT&T? Or do you legitimately think that they are in the wrong? If you think AT&T is in the wrong, then why? And can you prove it? I agree with you, throttling sucks. But I understand why AT&T (along with every other carrier) throttles. And doing so is perfectly legal and within their T.O.S., so long as they don’t charge you for overages, which is all an unlimited data contract guarantees.

  • prometheus1981

    So, let me get this straight, since I did not spend any time going to other sites and verifying something because I trusted this source (main reason why I come here) I should be insulted per your standards. Don’t get me wrong, I agree with you on why the whole throttling using algorithms after you put that perspective out there but your way of handling this makes you look like an dick. As far as I can see if you have found a good reference on to why AT&T is doing this then post the link and inform the masses instead of just bashing them in a way that makes you feel good about yourself and takes your ego to new heights. Up until your last comment I thought we where just playing around but this just makes you look kinda like  a prick.

    But hey, I’ll give you the algorithm idea. Do you have any good links to share in order to enlighten us or are you just going to insult me further?

  • aslguy

    The only thing worse than an ignorant person is an educated person using his education to make those around him feel ignorant.

  • Ed_Kel

    Reply to an insult with an insult – doesn’t help your argument. I don’t need to hold your hand, enlighten yourself. I’m sure you know how to use Google.

    I simply said that you should educate yourself (assuming that was what pissed you off) on the topic, then you imply that I’m a prick…? Who’s insulting who?

  • Timothy Williamson

    If AT&T is going to throttle, couldn’t they at least allow usable bandwidth? From what I’ve read, the throttle basically makes any data access unusable (other than email).

  • Ed_Kel

    In other words, arrogant. :-)

  • JayeDee369

    I’m in Throttling Hell and now I’m hoping that anyone doing a class action lawsuit please leave me some info. This is outrageous and for the money I’m shelling out every month without fail!!! AT&T sucks and this tiered shit has got to stop.

  • CaveMan5464

    Hit the nail on the head. All counts correct. I have been with att since the beginning of iPhone train, but I’m getting off now. Especially if Verizon goes to shared data between lines. 

  • Jon Hernandez

    This is pretty disturbing news… I understand that this was bound to happen, but Carriers are getting away with highway robbery. I have been a loyal ATT customer before the iPhone, but now this may be the one reason to go and test the waters with other Carriers.

  • SpankyOne

    Ed, the problem with your logic in all of this is that AT&T hasn’t started throttling until just now and it isn’t just a matter of unlimited versus unrestricted.  Whether or not someone agrees to allow changes to the TOS in the original contract or not, for any product or service, there is an implied warranty for fitness for a particular purpose.  For five or more years customers have used this product a certain way and now AT&T has unilaterally decided to dishonor the contract by making these devices, and the pricey services that go with them, useless for the purposes originally contracted for. Just because AT&T’s contract doesn’t specifically state something about throttling doesn’t mean they can do it regardless of the effects on the other party to their contract. Additionally, you should know that a contract between a huge corporation like AT&T and a individual subscriber, despite what you might think about plain language and the like, might well turn out to be an adhesion contract if AT&T uses their position as the stronger party to commit fraud.  I would say, based on their allowing data usage over 2GB for many, many years after the original contract, and their consistent advertising of this feature while they were marketing it, they don’t have a leg to stand on.  The question isn’t whether there will be a class action, it’s how quickly.

  • Gregintosh

    I read that it applies to 5% of unlimited users not ALL users, so people on tiered plans are excluded. They also probably pay more if not double what you pay, hence why upgrading to a tier plan removes the throttling.

  • prometheus1981

    Sorry, I did not mean to insult you. I was just stating a fact.

  • Ed_Kel

    So was I.

  • Len Williams

    I just upgraded my original iPhone first gen to an iPhone 4S with the grandfathered “Unlimited” plan. They charge me $80/month, and now they’re going to slow down my connection speed if I use more than 2GB? This is outrageous. I’ve been with AT&T for many years (back when they bought Cingular) and I’m amazed at how incredibly usurious this is. I pay about $960 per year to use my phone, and for this AT&T wants to cut my data speed. Imagine how many billions of dollars AT&T is making every year and how much profit they make. Surely with all this they can operate in the black and still deliver good service.

  • Ed_Kel

    Throttling isn’t strict to persons using over 2GB of data. It fluctuates every month and the combined average of the top 5% determines the throttle limit along with the individual’s average and region; again, calculated every month. This article is unbelievably misleading. Agree or not about the legality of throttling, the bandwidth cap changes every month and even people in this very thread are stating they have used 3GB+ with no interruption.

    It’s preposterous to say that throttling to Edge renders a device useless, if that is what you’re getting at… Can it make calls? Access the internet? Send emails and texts? Yes. Slow, but yes. I’ll say it again, AT&T’s contract guarantees service without overages. It does not guarantee performance. They are well within their legal rights to throttle heavy users in order to guarantee fair speeds for everyone and God bless them for doing just that. You’re taking the side of a select few, 5% of unlimited users (what is that, like 1,000 people?); why not think about the millions of average users who has their services impeded, or throttled, because of data hogs in their area?

  • Ed_Kel

    You also need to understand that AT&T has a responsibility to the ones who aren’t using as much data either. They along with any other company in a position like this has the responsibility to make a fair and level service for everyone.

  • Brandon Dillon

    Verizon has really come a long way, in my experiences, in comparison to how they used to do business.

  • Mike Rathjen

    The unlimited 3G plan is for unlimited data at 3G speed. Heavy throttling may still be unlimited data, but it is no longer unlimited data at 3G speed.

  • Jack C. Heath

    Ed, you’re wrong. If throttling were about bandwidth then it wouldn’t be cheaper to get the 3gb plan limited over unlimited when only 2-5% are exceeding 2gb and statistically none exceed 3gb by AT&T’s own numbers. It’s more similar to the piracy arguments made by big media then real fact. It sounds good, but it doesn’t add up.

    The same arguments were made by AT&T when POTS lines were forced to no longer tier pricing. Knowing that eventually data will be all anyone uses and that voice, messaging, text, etc are just going to be apps on a data plan. They are simply trying to set a president for tiered pricing before that happens and as such undo regulation on voice set over the past 20-30 years and to milk customers on overages in the process.

  • djrobsd

    Well, f*ck you then AT&T. I now have no more reason to stay with your crappy service, and will be switching to Verizon in June when my 24 months are up… CYA!!!!

  • prometheus1981

    Like the pot calling the kettle black.

  • BPO Pics

    Happened To me last 3 days of my previous billing cycle, Then only 10 days into the current cycle. The phone is pretty unusable short of sending e-mails(up speed seems unaffected), Even receiving e-mails with attachments is pretty unbearable throttled.  I had 13 months left on my existing contract; It took 3 separate 30+ minute conversations to AT&T until I found a service rep that was willing to terminate my contract and waive the early termination fee.  I am now an unlimited sprint customer.

  • Joana Pimenta

    Check out STEVE JOBS QUOTES AND TRIVIA APP for iPHONE!!!!

    Amazing way of learning from our leader!! :-)

  • crateish

    It takes coordination and a lot of initial support for a class action suit. I think all of us with ‘unlimited’ plans should take AT&T to small claims court, like that lady who successfully sued Honda did.

    10K per head.

  • Aristocat

    Im with you brother (or sister)

  • Aristocat

    nana nana na na

  • BigBlueFan70

    I am willing to join in on a class action lawsuit. UNLIMITED means UNLIMITED! Can’t be legal to do this! I have been a customer for as long as I can remember. They have never treated their customers that well anyway. Just my opinion.

  • Boo Radley

    Pander much?

  • Levi Weaver

    …After you go over 2GB, then you will be back down to edge speeds or there about from what I’ve read elsewhere. This is what your first gen had, so its not too big of a shock to what your used to.

  • necapefear

    So what part of the dictionary has ATT & Verison missed? Maybe we should also look up the meaning of misleading, fraudulent, misrepresentation, and a few more. Where are the regulators when these companies need to be slapped.

    un·lim·it·ed (adjective) 1. not restricted
    2. infinite
    3. complete or total

  • nthnm

    It isn’t restricted. You will still be able to use as much data as you can. It’ll just be crap speeds and not worth it. I’m sure they’re completely inside the law on this one. A-holes, most definitely, but not outside the laws.

  • Honyant

    With the 5% rule they can force the users down to lower and lower levels.They will still not be happy even when their top 5% is down to 250 MB.

  • Honyant

    When you throttle the top 5%, then in the next period those users will use less data, and the top 5% will start at a lower level, and the level at which throttling commences gets lower and lower. Will you have the same attitude when an unlimited plan allows 250 MB of data before throttling commences?
    If ’1000 people’ can impact the service to millions by using their unlimited plans then there is something seriously wrong with the network and AT&T needs to spend some money on upgrading it.

  • Honyant

    Any business that uses the common use of language in its advertising, but depends on the gullibility of consumers, not taking their contracts to a lawyer for interpretation, as their business model are in the wrong. I would be wary of doing business with anyone who thinks otherwise.

  • Honyant

    I have seen no evidence that the algorithm that they say they use is in fact the one that they use. Judging by their current business practices and the contempt with which they treat their customers I would not take their word on anything.

  • Leonardo Conner Russell

    The only  reason I’ve kept AT&T is because I had unlimited data for my iPhone, 2GB? Really AT&T thats bull and you know it. Guess theres always that 3GB data plan for the same price, oh wait theres Sprint. 
    AT&T shouldn’t be screwing its customer that have been loyal for 5 years. No wonder they were rated so low. Jumping ship as soon as my renewed contract ends. 

  • 5imo

    there written to ensure you pay your bills

  • 5imo

    they will only loose -3%> of customers at worst, I know its hard to believe but most people do use under 500MB a month, and these changes only hurt power users. in general networks dont care about power users as shown by AT&T, Verizon, O2, Vodafone the list goes on and on only the newer, faster growing networks: Sprint, 3… Still offer unlimited data plans.

  • Luis Antonio Perez

    Another issue is that there’s no way to know when I’m approaching the throttling limit.  In Dec it happened when I went over 6GB (an anomaly because of background apps now deleted).  Jan I was more diligent and was throttled after 2GB.  I need faster data for work, there are streaming services I pay for that are now useless because of the limited data speeds.
    When I received my ‘warning’ text, I was already over the limit.  From my point of view it feels like AT&T is arbitrarily throttling my speeds.  They’re not being transparent about the process.  Mathematically there will always be a ‘top 5%’ how low do they have to be for everyone to get full service? Nobody knows.  Bottom line, I was paying for an expected service level, it seems that AT&T cannot provide that level of service anymore, I should get a refund to reflect the substandard service, or the opportunity to opt out of the plan without penalty.

  • Luis Antonio Perez
  • Vincent

    2GB of data is ridiculous.  Considering the 4S uses twice as much data as the iphone 4, the limit should be in the 5GB+ range if at all.  I get that somebody pulling 10GB data could fall in the top 5%.  But how is it possible that 2 GB falls into that range?  I call shenanigans!!!

    We need to have a class action suit and force them to prove that 2GB puts you in the top 5% of data users.  They probably just set a 2GB throttling limit.  I highly doubt that it only applies when you are in the top 5%.

  • Omar de la Serna

    I’m surprised Cult of Mac is the only site covering this story. Apparently Giz and Engadget don’t think it’s that important. We need to push this story out folks!

  • Al

    How do you guys manage to use that much data? Since October I’ve used 2.1 GB in total since then. And I thought I was using it pretty heavily!

    What is it? Streaming radio? YouTube videos? Video conferencing?

  • Omar de la Serna

    iTunes Match, Google Music, Drop Box, Netflix and AirVideo to name a few. With the 2GB cap, AT&T is just crippling consumers who know how to use their phone to it’s utmost ability.

  • SithKnightmare

    I just got off a chat with a customer support rep, as I received an email and text from AT&T today when I hit 2 GB of data. By definition, unlimited would imply not being able to limit speed as well, right? To say I feel slighted is an understatement, I would like to be involved in a class action suit.
    Here’s my transcriptPlease note: Protecting your personal information is one of our highest priorities; hence, you will be required to provide account related information to ensure whom we are working with. Data encryption is also enabled to protect your personal information during this chat session. For more information please go to http://www.wireless.att.com/pr… or http://www.att.com/privacy/. Please wait for a site operator to respond.You are now connected with ‘Reggie’.Reggie: Thank you for contacting Business Data Support. My name is Reggie. Before we begin, can I confirm the wireless number that we will be working with is 3092249850?Nathan: That’s correct.Reggie: Thank you.Reggie: I understand you have questions regarding your data speed, is that correct?Nathan: Yes.Reggie: I’ll be more than happy to assist you, one moment please.Reggie: It looks like you received a notification regarding your data usage, is that correct?Nathan: YesReggie: It appears you are coming close to reaching the threshold for the top 5% of unlimited data users.Reggie: If you exceed that threshold your data speed will be reduced till your billing cycle renews on the 13th of this month.Nathan: I see, and why is it that your company has decided to break the contract terms for the feature that I have of unlimited data?Reggie: I understand your frustration and concern.Reggie: I August of 2011 all of our unlimited data plan users were notified of the change to AT&T’s unlimited data plan policy.Reggie: You still have access to unlimited data.Reggie: However if you reach the threshold the data speed will be reduced.Nathan: I don’t recall agreeing to this policy change in question.Reggie: I understand. There is a group here at AT&T that was established to answer this specific issue and help you understand your options.Reggie: they can be reached at 833.344.7584.Nathan: I do not have time to call, I would appreciate being able to use this chat with them.Reggie: You are free to cut and past this chat for your notes.Reggie: I am not able to send them to you.Nathan: I don’t understand how I am in the top 5%. Can you please enumerate how this number is decided? I got the message when I was near 2GB of data. Is it not true that you have 5GB subscribers? How is it that I, at less than 5GB, can be in the top 5% of all wireless data subscribers?Reggie: I will do my best.Reggie: To give you a baseline – the average data use across the country by the top 5% of AT&T smartphone customers was 2GB per month, effective August 2011.Reggie: The amount of data usage of our top 5% of heaviest users varies from month-to-month and by market, based on the usage of others and the ever-increasing demand for mobile broadband services.Nathan: This does not seem to be a fair and consistent business practice. I understand you may not be in the position to resolve my concerns, and if that is the case, could your manager be involved in this chat?Reggie: The data usage policy applies only to our unlimited data plan customers Nathan. The customer on the tiered data plans pay more for the service and they are not in a position to have their data speed reduced.Reggie: My manager would only tell you the same thing I am telling you.Reggie: If speed is of top importance, you may wish to switch to a tiered usage data plan. Tiered data plan customers can pay for more data when you need it and will not see reduced speeds.Reggie: I do understand Nathan.Nathan: Speed is not of top importance to me, but service is. And service is being affected by this limit being imposed on my unlimited data plan.Reggie: I really wish there were something more I could do to resolve the issue more to your liking.Reggie: You can avoid reduced speeds by setting your smartphone to use Wi-Fi, which does not count against your wireless data usage. You can use Wi-Fi in the home, office, and at public locations, which will generally give you faster speeds. In addition, virtually all AT&T smartphone customers have access, at no additional charge, to more than 29,000 AT&T Wi-Fi hotspots at Starbucks, Barnes & Noble, and other locations. You can get more information on how to use Wi-Fi and find the location of AT&T Wi-Fi hotspots atwww.att.com/wifiaccess .Reggie: Additionally, you can wait until a later time when a Wi-Fi connection is available to download large files or software upgrades. Music and videos downloads can be completed by connecting your wireless device to a computer instead of streaming over the air.  Nathan: Reggie, I appreciate your help. I am frustrated with AT&T, not you. I know you are doing your best to try to help me.Reggie: Thank you for saying so Nathan.Nathan: Unfortunately, I will have to pursue another path to address my concerns. I do appreciate your help and time.Reggie: You are very welcome.Nathan: Thanks again, and have a good day, Reggie.

  • SithKnightmare

    I use Netflix when I work out, along with email, Twitter, and light browsing, that’s how I use my data.

  • arcane93

     I’ve used that much many of the months since I subscribed to Spotify.  I listen to it at work, sometimes all day, and whenever I’m driving around.

  • arcane93

    I live in a major metropolitan area and have AT&T, and I’ve been running into more and more instances lately where my phone will show two, three, or even four bars of service, but not be able to actually connect to anything.  Meanwhile, my friend who has Sprint is standing next to me with her iPhone and connecting without any problems.  So I’ve already been contemplating a jump after my current contract is up.  All this does is seals the deal.

  • Percy

    My new month started and I swear that since I got that email for barely going over 2 Gigs last month that i am still slow on this cycle.  I hope there is a class action lawsuit because I will be joining that bad boy!!!  This sucks.

  • arcane93

     Yup, my sentiments exactly.

  • Ed_Kel

    “will I have the same attitude when an unlimited plan allows 250MB of data before throttling commences”

    That would never happen.

  • Ed_Kel

    Or you can just use WiFi more often.

  • Timothy Williamson

    How are you so sure of this?

    On a side note, are you sure you don’t work for AT&T PR? I don’t understand why else you would be so involved in this thread.

  • Taylor Snyder

    Finally all the reason I need to switch to Sprint once my next contract is up.

  • Taylor Snyder

    Finally all the reason I need to switch to Sprint once my next contract is up.

  • buggietechnica

    It was a happy day when I turned off AT&T wireless and UVerse. Never going back to those crooks.

  • Brandon Lewis

    You don’t have to wait for your contract, I got out of mine because they changed the polices. I got out of a $200 ETF because they started throttling people

  • Richard Smith

    I love it when an MBA thinks he is a legal expert in contracts! 

  • sn0wball

    we don’t have carriers of the sort. you for 5gigs, you use 5gigs, u get 5 gigs

  • Kathy Hayes

    The top 5% is constantly changing, as stated it use to be users in the 10g range and now it’s down to 2g. It’s ridiculous 2g is not a large amount of data I don’t care how you look at. AT&T warning email says to reduce network congestion so if 2g on an unlimited plan causes network congestion why would it not cause congestion on the 3g or 5g plan?? That’s right they just want more money for us to use our phones they way they were designed to be used.

  • William Snider

    We pay $30/month for the unlimited plan, which is the same price that the 3GB tiered data plans cost.  We should at least get 3GB before any talk of throttling.  They are degrading our service when we reach 66% of the allotted data that we’d get if we were on the 3GB plan.  If $30 buys me 3GB of data on a tiered plan, at least give me my $30 worth dammit!

  • texmedic

    Filed a complaint with the fcc. My contract says” unlimited” the only speeds the sales people ever mentioned were 3 and 4g. B.S. attempting to throttle me for watching 2 movies a year on netflix. Literally.used it on a road trip got the text the next day. Otherwise its connected to wifi 99.999% of the time. They throttle me im heading back to sprint

  • texmedic

    I think your theory is full of fail.
    I live in a smaller city. Got the text and email just as I crossed 2gb.
    nice try ED_Kel

  • David

    Sign petition to do something about this

    http://www.change.org/petition

  • David

    Sign petition to do something about this
    http://www.change.org/petition

  • Jonathan Nazario

    I wish I knew more legal stuff, and read my contract some more…  but I wonder how legally can AT&T do that, if throttling does affects my experience and usability?  For example I use Pandora all day while working..

    Also I saw some people being pointed to AT&T Acceptable Use Policy:
    http://www.corp.att.com/aup/

    And the document’s first paragraph, which I understand is why the document exists says:
    “…and preserving for all of its Customers the ability to use AT&T’s
    network and the Internet without interference…”.

    Maybe I am “misreading” between and / or clauses and they should know how to write better, but those words for me are for specifying things that are joint vs options.  Anyways, hopefully someone knows how to put AT&T straight and this is why T-Mobile US merge is a bad idea.

  • Agree (with Alumnus)

    fernsf: 

    You should try an experiment:

    if you truly are using Verizon as your principal line, and are definitely going to cancel the at&t contract anyway… then load up netflix and run a movie or two while you sleep!

    In no time you will be over the 2 GB (arbitrary threshold), and see if they throttle you. Keep doing this until 10GB, 15GB, …

    When (and if) they throttle you, just cancel the contract, and explain to them “breach of service” or something along those lines… See if they let you cancel you without ETF.

    If NO then you probably must suffer until June…

    If YES (they waive your ETF) then it would be a good data point to have…

    Keep us posted! Soemetimes it takes a lot of work just to get one or two scientific data points!

  • Agree (with Alumnus)

    no, no, no Ed…

    They have a contract with the user, and they are supposed to provide the service for which the user is paying…

    Period…

    Otherwise, the flip side is that if you use only 250 MB (that is 1/8 of [arbitrary] 2GB), then they should REFUND you 7/8 * $30 = $26.25.

    If we are going to nit-pic here, then since I live in an area where they advertise “the best” coverage (their technician confirmed 5 bars) and since I have NEVER gotten over 3 bars, and most often 2 bars, they should REFUND me HALF of my monthly charges because they are only providing me HALF of the service they are advertising… I warned them over a year ago that they are mis-advertising, and told them to change the coverage map… They have not done so… They continue to advertise 5 bars and provide 2-3 at best…

    Why should I pay them for service they are not providing?

    Q.E.D.

  • Agree (with Alumnus)

    Straight Talk is now selling a SIM for $15 that fits right into an iPhone (they have both the micro and the regular sized one). 

    Then, for $45 / month you get unlimited everything and you ARE using the at&t network anyway. You do NOT need an unlocked iPhone… presumably any at&t phone will work…I tested it out with an iPhone 4s locked to at&t and everything worked fine…

  • Agree (with Alumnus)

    at&t is not in the customer service business… it is in the business of making money (see my comments on “productivity” a week or so ago)… 

    I go to Finland once or twice a year, and EVERYWHERE in that country I have 5 bars. EVERYWHERE… Without Exception… On a train, 50 miles from the nearest city… EVERYWHERE !!!

    Finland is a country that has 5.08 million people (population steady for the past century or so) – about three times the population of Manhattan… distributed on a land mass that  extends roughly something like from the Canadian Border with NY to southern Georgia. 

    (point: is that there is not a very high _average_ population density)… 

    The same signal strength example applies to Sweden, Poland, and Estonia. I haven’t been to Germany lately so I do not know, but if I had to bet… :)

    Companies in THOSE countries are _service_  organizations… government regulation may have something to do with it… 

    at&t is a just a money making machine… they could care less if you have service or not… irrespective of how compassionate their call center employees (or their “managers” may sound)!
     

  • Agree (with Alumnus)

    Awesome Brandon… Try Straight Talk. It worked great on a trial for a week in my at&t iPhone!

  • Agree (with Alumnus)

    You may not have to wait. See comments of Brandon (above), where he was able to end contract without ETF

  • Michael Kennedy

    Just filed a complaint with FCC (
    http://esupport.fcc.gov/compla… ) for “Deceptive or unlawful advertising or marketing by a communications company (does NOT include Telemarketing)”.  I think we have a reasonable expectation to be provided full data speeds up to the 3GB level when our plan costs the same as the tiered plan.  Essentially AT&T is preventing me from accessing the internet.  Waiting 5 mins for a page to populate on the last day of the billing cycle vs 10 seconds on the first day is unlawful. Well maybe soon it will be unlawful.

  • Michael Kennedy

    You may have just pointed out AT&T Achilles heal, good on you.

  • Brian Shamblen

    The only reason I’m in this situation is because one of the apps on my iPhone didn’t go to sleep when I turned my phone off, so it kept streaming data all day and drained my battery. The next day I received one of these messages. I pay $30 per month for “unlimited data”. If I were paying for data like a regular user I’d at least have access to 3GB of data. It seems pretty messed up that I get less data for the same amount of money with the “unlimited data plan”. Way to look out for your early adopters AT&T!!!

  • platoonboss

    I’m going to listen to Pandora around the clock.

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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