Under a new policy announced Thursday, AT&T has established clear thresholds for unlimited data subscribers – those who exceed 3GB a month and 4G LTE smartphone owners who surpass 5GB.
In 2011, AT&T implemented a “network management program” in response to “soaring mobile broadband usage and the limited availability of wireless spectrum.”
Some heavy users – whom AT&T has said are the top 5 percent of data users in its networks – felt that AT&T was pushing them to sign up for one of its newer tiered plans instead of the unlimited plan, which is no longer available to new customers.
AT&T sent heavy data users text warnings before slowing their network speed.
One AT&T customer who complained he was “throttled” by AT&T, that is, speeds were slowed drastically, sued in small claims court and won an $850 judgment. AT&T said it would appeal.
Now, under AT&T’s new policy, those who have the unlimited data plan will receive a text message if their usage approaches 3GB. “Each time you use 3GB or more in a billing cycle, your data speeds will be reduced for the rest of that billing cycle and then go back to normal,” AT&T said.
The same process applies to unlimited data plan subscribers at 5GB of data use with the 4G LTE smartphone.
But the next time subscribers exceed their use level, speeds will be reduced without another text warning, AT&T said. Users can text *data# on their mobile phones to see how much they have used in a billing cycle.
AT&T shows “What you can do with a GB” here.
“You’ll still be able to use as much data as you want,” AT&T said. “That won’t change. Only your data throughput speed will change if you use 3GB or more in one billing cycle on a 3G or 4G smartphone or 5GB or more on a 4G LTE smartphone.”
I was grandfathered into an unlimited data plan and I was told by AT&T that the original terms of my contract will continue to apply. This seems to be a breach of that contract.