AT&T customers in the top 5% of data usage to face throttled speeds

By Michelle Haag on 29 Jul 2011 06:07 pm EDT

If you're on an unlimited data plan on AT&T, and consider yourself a heavy data user, you may want to pay attention. Like other carriers, AT&T is going to begin throttling speeds once a certain threshold is reached. However, unlike other carriers, AT&T has decided instead of setting a fixed number as the limit, they will simply reduce speeds for customers falling into the top 5% of the heaviest data users. Users will still have unlimited data, and speeds will be restored at the start of the next billing cycle.

The amount of data usage of our top 5 percent of heaviest users varies from month to month, based on the usage of others and the ever-increasing demand for mobile broadband services.  To rank among the top 5 percent, you have to use an extraordinary amount of data in a single billing period.

There will be no changes for the vast majority of customers.  It's not how much time you spend using your device, it's what you do with it.  You can send or receive thousands of emails, surf thousands of Web pages and watch hours of streaming video every month and not be in the top 5 percent of data users.

Chances are, this change won't affect you, unless you use an extraordinary amount of data through streaming tons of video/music daily, streaming remote web camera apps, sending large data files, online gaming, or tethering. If you utilize wifi for these things, you aren't using your data plan, so therefore you won't be affected. The changes go into effect October 1, 2011. You can find full details at the source link below.

Source: AT&T via: TiPb

Michelle Haag Michelle Haag "@_Miche11e_ and C0001B3B5" 1214 (articles) 1695 (forum posts)

Reader comments

AT&T customers in the top 5% of data usage to face throttled speeds


+1, I am on T-mobile and I current pay $20 for 2GB of high speed and unlimited low speed after that point. I barely use 100MB on the network per month. I focus on data when I am on Wi-Fi. I don't walk around with my phone in my hand giving someone the opportunity to snatch it :o)

I'm on the same plan (I think) and I also never get anywhere near 2GB, ever. I think I've only gone over 100MB once, and that was when both my laptop and desktop computers happened to die in the same month.

But, I still think there should be an option for unlimited if we are paying for unlimited data.

AT&T tries very hard to get rid of the unlimited data feature.....for those of us that have been grandfathered in, be careful when you upgrade! I don't fall into this category but some others users may.

Yet another reason I am not with AT&T besides the hopelessly worthless cellular coverage in San Diego...

Since many data transfer sessions are sent through the NOC, and the BIS browser being pretty efficient with data usage, BlackBerry users typically use nowhere near the amount of data these heavy users do.

These "heavy users" use on the order of 20 GB+ a month, a near impossibility for a BlackBerry user unless constantly tethered.

Now this may be a different story with the release of HSPA+ devices, but as of now our incredibly efficient devices (especially those on OS5 browsers and below) have little to worry about.

Just to let you know, the release of HSPA+ devices won't change how much data you use necessarily, but rather, how fast you consume the data. If you use your phone to watch YouTube videos, for instance, the videos will just load faster.

Now, if with HSPA+ you decide to up the video quality or audio quality because you have faster speeds, then you'll start to notice an increase in data usage.

I think you need to do some research into how this industry works. Do you consider the morbidly obese man who makes 40 trips to the dessert counter Golden Corral's top customer?

You, sir, are a gentleman and a scholar.

That is a great analogy that I will use in the future when someone brings up this issue.

I to know have it holsterd and ready, can't wait to use it.
It was both accuracte and funny, great combo.

Top customers, so someone near me on the same cell tower is hogging bandwidth all the time and pays the same as me. So I and other "non-top customers" have less and/or slower speeds. So if I am a bandwidth hog I am a good customer but if I use it normally like 95% or more do I am not a good customer? Explain the logic in this.

I am so mad over this! I'm fortunate-I'm grandfathered into an unlimited data plan. But-I just paid my monthly bill and was looking at my data usage. Bear in mind that I have WI-FI at home and that's where I do most of my surfing. However, I was noticing how many times the mothership keeps contacting my phone-when I'm ASLEEP no less-and of course, adds this to my overall usage. Angry? You bet! Have to worry about it? NO. But, as DaBear posted, "...Let's punish our top customers!!" GRRRRRRRR. BTW-my monthly usage is WAAAAAY under 2GB!

Your carrier does not need to poll your phone using data. Can you see your devices connected to your wireless router even when they are not in use? All your phone needs to do is to connect to a tower and they know all they need to know.

Apps, however, may connect through BIS as their preferred method even when connected to WiFi. Try wiping your phone of all third party apps and seeing how many times the "mothership" contacts you.

Hmmm, so you allow your phone to pull data all night and it's the "motherships" fault. Also explain how people who use huge amounts of data are AT&T's "Best Customers"?

You've got to be a very excessive user as I understand this. Actually an abuser. All you can eat restaurants are wonderful for most of us. The abuser who comes in and consumes enough for 4 people is the guy who ruins a good thing for the rest of us. We all know who they are targeting here and I'm happy for them. It's about time.

Ah, if you read the press release:

"But even as we pursue this additional measure, it will not solve our spectrum shortage and network capacity issues. Nothing short of completing the T-Mobile merger will provide additional spectrum capacity to address these near term challenges."

Of course they throw that in there....

so let me guess, ATT users will leave in droves now and teach the wireless industry they cant pull off this crap? yea right

Ok so here's the truth. More and more places offer fre wi-fi. And the number of places will only increase. However. The ammount of data a person can/does use also goes up. But, not at the pace of wi-fi "hotspots". So carriers use this knowledge and adjust what data plans they provide. Thus giving the mojority of customers the same data using experiance, and providing less cost to providers.

I agree. I went with Sprint after one hellish year on ATT with my Iphone. I sold my Iphone 3GS on Craigslist and bought at Blackberry Bold. I could not be happier.
At least I can make and receive phone calls with Sprint. I'm happy with my Sprint unlimited plan.

Log into your AT&T account online and use the data usage link. You can check the current month as well as your prior usage (you get a nice graph).

AT&T also has an app (MyAT&T) thst works about 30% of the time, but is good when it does and will show you usage.

to check data use on your AT&T phone, dial *DATA# from your phone and you'll get a text message showing you how many text msgs sent and what your data usage is (in MB).

You've got to give Mike L. credit on this one. When all the US carriers were selling their unlimited plans, he basically told them that they were committing suicide. That's why he insisted BlackBerrys be bandwidth-efficient. Guess the birds are coming home to roost.

To go through. I love my T-mobile plan, I left AT&T for them, they are money hungry beyond all of the other carriers. BlackBerry Bridge anyone? At least my TMO 9900 will work on the evil empire's network.

Greedy Basterds all they want is money and money!!! They expect 100$% from costumers but you can't expect s...! From them.

What does this even mean? Is this the top 5% in terms of population, or top 5 percent in term of data used?

I guess it doesn't matter at all, unless AT&T discloses how many individuals are affected as a percentage of their unlimited plan subscribers, or what the threshold of usage is.

At any rate, it's a way to get more revenue without improving their infrastructure, spun in a way that people think they understand, but the figures are meaningless.

"There will be no changes for the vast majority of customers. " Yeah, approximately 95 percent I would imagine..

I really wish there would be at least one significant change for this AT&T customer. I wish I could get a descent signal.

I need for AT&T to send a descent signal my way before they pull the throttle back on my data. It doesn't matter how much data I use. I can't use very much data because I hardly ever have a signal.