Sunday, February 19, 2012

As furor over throttling of data speeds grows, AT&T should address user concerns

AT&T is some hot water, specifically in regard to its recent efforts to “throttle” what it calls high-profile data users – basically making their data speeds ridiculously slow if the company thinks they’re hogging too much data. They claim it’s only affecting the top five percent of users, and most people won’t be affected.

The issue goes down to the fact that some people still have “unlimited” data plans, though new users can not get unlimited data and must choose a tier from AT&T’s list of data offerings.

So while those grandfathered into the unlimited plan might have thought they were in the clear to use as much data as they please, apparently that’s not the case, and they get real annoyed when things start to run very slowly. Some say it’s happening far more often than AT&T will admit, and affecting more people than the company says.

Angry users accuse AT&T of trying to “coax” them toward the tiered data limits and say they are getting warnings of throttling after just 1.5 GB of data being used.
Many people claim it’s all for nothing too, as throttling doesn’t necessarily improve network performance.

And in another wrinkle, AT&T offers a 3GB plan for $30 monthly (same price as the old unlimited plan) but that is not subject to throttling.

My observations:

-- If this throttling of unlimited plan customers is happening so early as many people claim, AT&T needs to be completely transparent about it. All numbers and facts should be out on the table for discussion purposes as this issue is resolved.

-- If people with unlimited plans are really annoyed by this throttling, they should be given the option to get out of their contracts … (Sprint is the only network that still offers an unlimited plan; many may be considering a switch to them, as they currently have no plans to kill their unlimited plan) ... or be allowed to switch to the 3GB limit tiered plan that is the same price so they can avoid throttling.

Side note: There is more bad news for AT&T customers: They have announced that the smartphone activation fee is now doubled from $18 to $36. This type of nickel and diming won’t gain them any fans, and is disappointing.

Matt Myftiu can be reached at


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