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.
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Danielle Rosato

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5 comments so far,Add yours

  1. And we would prefer to be on a secure wireless network but that is not always possible and what's the use of an unlimited data plan if you can barely access it? This article sounds more like an apologist for att rather than taking att to task and asking them why they have not be as forthcoming and address issues such as:

    How is the 5% determined since statistically, there's always going to be a 5% and with each successive month, the threshold could go lower and lower. The 5% benchmark is a moving target with only att having full information while their customers are left wondering if they are next.

    Once more att has found a novel way to both alienate their paying customers and generating negative publicity of their POS network.

  2. Anonymous,
    I am not sure why you think I am an "apologist", I never once indicated that I was in favor or in support of AT&T's (or any other carrier's) tactics to reduce usage. I even speculate that AT&T will get sued over this, and perhaps it is a deserving lawsuit.
    You do raise an interesting point, the top 5% will always be a moving target, and there will always be a top 5%. It probably is a poor way of measuring consumption. As I pointed out, T-Mobile at least makes it clear that you have a limit before the throttling happens.
    Regardless, it's not my role to "take att to task", I am simply trying to inform readers of a change that they should be aware of. Hopefully the readers will make informed decisions that have impact where it hurts (in dollars for annual contracts).
    On a side note; you would be suprised how many people I have met, who carry smartphones (and claim to be "tech-savy"), that did not know they could connect to a wifi network. That's why I raised the point about connecting to a secure network when possible.

  3. If people start using wifi more, than that means the threshold could drop down to 1gb or maybe .5 gb. What we need to do is, encourage people to use less wifi. The people with capped plans should get their money's worth, and the people with unlimited plans should as well. The point is, if we contiune to roll over and submit to corporations, they will continue to take advantage of the consumer. Enough with a lawsuit. I feel that the same course of action that was taken when Verizon wanted to charge a $5 fee to make an online payment, should also be taken with this.

  4. Anon - You are obviously angry (rightfully so) but you are also dumb. This blog seems pretty balanced in it's criticism of AT&T. Hence the sentence starting with "I believe this scenario will hurt AT&T". Whatcha doin on that smart phone? Whatever it is, it ain't workin.

  5. I feel as if this slowing of service is in fact breach of contract I am considering filing a suit. I hate AT&T's overall negligent service and I feel they entrap their customers into such situations like this where they either suffer or pay the early term fee to run away. I believe they need to re-invest in there infrastructure with the 5-6 hundred I pay for tv,phone,mobile, and broadband so they don't have these issues. And if it takes a legal case to do it so be it.