AT&T has laid out specific points at which it begins throttling the data transfer speeds of its customers who are still on unlimited data plans. This includes many iPhone users.
Starting last year, this carrier started a policy of slowing down the speeds of its users on unlimited plans who were in the 5% of data transfers each month. This led to complaints from customers who didn’t know when this penalty was going to go into effect.
Today, the company set specific guidelines: throttling applies those who “use more than 3GB, which means you are in the top 5% of data users in our network.” This applies to those who who a smartphone that can only connect to AT&T’s 3G network, like the iPhone. Customers who have a faster 4G LTE smartphone get a larger allowance: 5GB.
Throttling doesn’t cut customers off from using wireless data, but does slow them down. The slow-down lasts until the customer’s next billing cycle begins. Carriers say they use throttling to slow down a few customers from using “extraordinary” amounts of data and causing difficulties for other subscribers.
Throttling only applies to AT&T customers who have an unlimited data plan. This carrier stopped allowing new subscribers to this plan years ago, when it switched to tiered data plans, in which customers pay for specific amounts of data.
Time to Go Tiered?
This raises the question, should those who have an AT&T unlimited data plan (which is actually limited to 3GB of high-speed data transfers) consider changing to a tiered plan? The “unlimited” plan is $30 a month. For comparison, AT&T now offers 3GB of monthly data for $30, or 5GB for $50. Going over these limits results in an extra $10 for each 1GB of data transfered.
So the options are, pay $30 a month and put up with throttling past the 3GB point, or pay $30 and not have to worry about slow-downs, but face the possibility of extra charges.