I wrote a blog a couple weeks ago outlining the major competitors in the 4G race and how they must perform in order to stay on top of their competitors. Well it seems as of today, AT&T may yet fall again to a strategy that could turn their customers against them.
Announced February 13, AT&T started cutting data speeds as part as their attempt to manage data usage on their network. Over the past couple weeks, customers who tend to use their data service more frequently have realized their data speeds have become unusually slow. As said by a current AT&T customer, Mike Trang began to realize his data became awfully slow as his AT&T phone was "throttled", slowing downloads up to 99%. AT&T's throttling strategy consists of targeting its top 5%, of roughly 17 million customers, with unlimited data plans to filter out the heaviest cellular data users to manage usage on the network. AT&T has only throttled users in areas where the wireless network is more congested in a month.
AT&T's competitor, Verizon, does not slow down their customers usage unless the cell towers they are connected to are congested at that moment, which will call for a minimum decrease in speed. T-Mobile has a set standard in which they begin to throttle which is 5 gigabytes. Sprint continues with their completely unlimited data usage plans with no throttling.
Many complaints are rolling into AT&T which may spark a few lawsuits. Although AT&T says they are still providing those top 5% of data users with unlimited plans, the speeds are so slow that the phone is useless for anything except calls and text messages. I believe this scenario will hurt AT&T in the future with complaints and customers moving away to other carriers. Cell phone providers should have strict regulations to follow in order for these situations to be avoided. Personally, I have no idea now much data usage I use a day or even a month. My suggestion to those who are worried they will experience high data usage, always connect to secure wireless network when available, data usage is not measured while connected to Wi-Fi.