AT&T Clarifies “Unlimited” Data Plans in New Policy

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AT&T logo displayed on iPhoneAT&T has clarified, and simplified, its “unlimited” data plans after confusion and outrage over throttling thresholds and a recent small claims court award to an AT&T customer had been deemed an “extremely heavy user.”

Essentially, AT&T customers who have been grandfathered in with “unlimited” plans have been given the same data cap and price as the current DataPro 3GB plan. However, users that go beyond those caps are treated differently depending on which plan they have.

There were numerous reports recently of AT&T customers being notified that they were in the top 5% of data users, even though they used as little as 1GB of data. Those users then reportedly had their data throttled for a period of time thereafter.

The actual data used by customers receiving this notice varied from market to market and seemed to be very arbitrary. In addition, AT&T’s explanations have seemed muddled.

This came to a head last week when a small claims court in California awarded US$850 to a customer who’s data had been throttled after only 1.5GB of use. The customer pointed out that AT&T currently offers a data plan for the same $30 he paid for his “unlimited” plan that allows for 3GB of data use.

In defense, the manager that was serving as the representative for AT&T in the case could only say that AT&T had the right to modify or even cancel a customer’s contract if they were harming the network.

While still arguing that mobile broadband usage is soaring and that it has the right to manage its network, AT&T has made its policy clear now. You are in the top 5% of users in the network if you use more than 3GB of data. There is no mention of market area or monthly rolling averages in this new policy. If you have a 4G LTE smartphone, which is not yet available in an iPhone, your limit is 5GB.

According to the new policy, AT&T will send a text message when you are approaching the 3GB limit for the first time. If you hit the limit, you will be throttled for the remainder of the billing cycle at which time data speeds will return to normal. If you hit the limit after that, you will not get the text message - only the throttling.

AT&T points out that you can use as much data as you want for your $30 “unlimited” plan. It just gets throttled after 3GB. Users on the DataPro 3GB plan would not be subject to throttling, but would have to pay $10 for each additional 1GB of data used.

Comments

Koderkev

This is BS. AT&T knows full well that throttling is a way of limiting data usage, hence the fallacy of calling a plan “unlimited.”

Personally, I have a 200mb plan, as I tend always to be near hotspots. Last month, though, I went over and had to up my limit to 300mb or get a 15 buck charge. The extra 100mb only cost $5, so I saved $10 doing that. However, I intend to review the bill and decide if I should got to a 2gb plan, now that I have iTunes match.

nubiannews

why argue with them, move to truely unlimited Sprint

KoderKev

why argue with them, move to truely unlimited Sprint

I’ve thought about it. Sprint is based in Kansas City, near me. But I’ve been with ATT for a year and a half, and I do use the ability to be on the phone and using other apps at the same time, which no other company can do.

Kilroy

It’s all BS…...this is worse in a way.  With the 5% we would have been ok of everybody would have kept using there data.  The story is high usage, if so they slow down the top% they say.  They hit me @ 8GB month before last, 4GB last month and I want to say 5 GB this time.  If everybody had thought instead of letting AT&T win by discouraging them from use. We could have beat them plain and simple.  Once my connection was tapped I’d stream just stream, if my phone was plugged in it was streaming.  If more people had continued to stream it would have made the point of which they slow your connection down higher so the next cycle you could use more before it was slowed and so on every month….

Lee Dronick

I am grandfathered on the unlimited data plan. Looking at my usage graph at AT&T’s website I see that my data has jumped since the advent of Siri and Photo Stream. I will have to monitor that, but it hasn’t come close to the throttling limit.

Tiger

In other words, they just admitted fraud…in advertising, in commercial trade, in customer service.

Fraud. You hear that AT&T? We do.

Buck Hindman

ATT says it has the option to do this, so they should give the unlimited data plan users the option to cancel their contract without ETF. I have 4 lines and if I could avoid the ETF, I would be at Verizon or Sprint today! Sprint is slow but unlimited and although Verizon has tiered plans that they also throttle, they only slow you down for the time needed and for sure don’t slow the data down by 99%! This is just like when ATT kept jacking the price of testing. People will leave for another carrier and ATT will change plans to lure them back. I’m just tired of the BE from them! It’s a shame to, the employees at my local corporate store are fantastic! I’m sure gonna miss them.

Lee Dronick

In other words, they just admitted fraud

I am not sure that fraud is the correct word, legal word, for what they did. People still have their unlimited data, just that AT&T is choking them when they pig out.

Jason

Thats it I am going to Sprint.

Lee Dronick

Thats it I am going to Sprint.

The only reason Sprint is not throttling data is that they do not yet have anywhere near the number of smart phone users as does AT&T. That may change.

AT&T’s unlimited throttling plan will only affect a small percentage of users.

Winski

These guys are truly pathological liars. Their argument that red and yellow are the same color would even make my grandma laugh if she were still here…

lilyhourton

I think this is unfair. Wireless programmers have only had to be concerned about data usage for the last few years. Now, AT&T plans on charging wireless app developers for the data they can be using. Article resource: AT&T unveils plan to charge for data usage.As data service providers try to shove more and more data, such as video and music, through increasingly packed services, it will likely be the app developers who pay for access who will get access to the top tier of service.This is not good at all.

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