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Posts Tagged ‘Data Users’

AT&T amends data throttling policy: 5GB for LTE smartphones, 3GB for non-LTE

Thursday, March 1st, 2012

AT&T on Thursday announced a revision to its smartphone data throttling policy, which impacts users who have chosen to retain the unlimited smartphone data plan AT&T discontinued some time ago. AT&T’s policy had been ambiguous until now, with the carrier stating simply that the top 5% of smartphone users would experience slowed data speeds until a new billing period began. It was unclear how much data a subscriber had to use in order to approach the top 5%, however, and a number of reports claimed users were being throttled after using 2GB of data or even less. Now, AT&T is clarifying that it will only begin throttling smartphone users with 4G LTE devices after 5GB of data has been used in a single billing period, and subscribers with non-LTE devices will be throttled after 3GB of usage. It has also been reported that AT&T increased the speeds experienced by users while their data speeds are being throttled, but a company spokesperson declined to comment. AT&T’s full statement follows below.

With mobile data usage continuing to skyrocket and the availability of spectrum scarce, AT&T, like other wireless companies, manages its network in the most fair way possible so that we can provide the best possible mobile broadband experience for all our customers.

How we’re managing the network only affects a small minority of the heaviest smartphone data users still on unlimited plans. Put another way, this does not impact more than 95 percent of our smartphone customers.

Our unlimited plan customers have told us they want more clarity around how the program works and what they can expect. Here’s what customers need to know:

  • Customers with a 3G or 4G smartphone – who also still have our unlimited data plan – will see speeds reduced if they use 3GB (gigabytes) of data or more in a billing cycle. Speeds will return to normal at the start of the next billing cycle. For context, less than 5 percent of smartphone customers use more than 3GB per month.
  • For customers with a 4G LTE smartphone – who also still have our unlimited data plan – data speeds will be reduced if usage is 5GB (gigabytes) or more in a billing cycle. Speeds will return to normal at the start of the next billing cycle.

Customers will get a text message from us before experiencing a change in speed.

Even with reduced data speeds, these customers will still be able to email and surf the web, and continue to use an unlimited amount of data each month.

Not impacted by this program, launched last year, are customers on our tiered data plans.

The reason reduced speeds only apply to unlimited smartphone customers is because their data usage is significantly higher than those on tiered plans. For example, in January, the top 5 percent of our unlimited data plan customers used an average of over 50 percent more data than the top 5 percent of customers on tiered plans.

Because spectrum is limited and data usage continues to soar, we manage our network this way to be as fair as possible and so we can provide the best possible mobile broadband experience to everyone.

We encourage all of our customers to use Wi-Fi whenever possible – especially when watching video, which is the most data-intensive activity.

That’s because data activity over Wi-Fi does not count against the threshold for unlimited customers that triggers reduced data speeds or against customers’ tiered data plans. Customers can find out more at www.att.com/datainfo

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AT&T should be investigated for ‘fraudulent’ data policies, public interest group says

Tuesday, February 28th, 2012

AT&T on Monday announced a new plan that will let developers pay for the data used by their apps and services. The data consumed by apps that make use of this new feature would not apply toward a user’s data cap. The new service was pitched as a way for content providers to ease customers’ growing concerns over wireless data usage, however one public interest group sees the feature as a slap in the face to AT&T subscribers. “This new plan is unfortunate because it shows how fraudulent the AT&T data cap is, and calls into question the whole rationale of the data caps,” Harold Feld, legal director of Public Knowledge, said in a statement. ”Apparently it has nothing to do with network management. It’s a tool to get more revenue from developers and customers.” Read on for more.

“The plan creates two new groups of customers and app developers — those who pay AT&T extra for the privilege of being exempt from the cap and those who don’t,” Feld continued. ”We are disappointed that the FCC has ignored the two requests we have made for the agency to investigate the need for both wireless and landline broadband caps. There is still no rationale for why they are needed, what the network costs are, how they are imposed and how many customers are subject to them.”

AT&T’s smartphone data policies have been called into question lately following a new wave of subscriber complaints. Loyal customers who retained their unlimited data plans after AT&T switched to a tiered system can continue to use an unlimited amount of data each month, but their data speeds are throttled — sometimes to nearly unusable speeds, according to a number of readers who have emailed BGR with tales of woe — if they are among the top 5% of data users in a billing period.

On a number of occasions, subscribers have seen their data speeds slowed after less than 2GB of usage in a single billing period. For the same $30 AT&T is charging unlimited data plan holders each month, however, smartphone users on a tiered data plan can enjoy up to 3GB of full-speed data.

“This is exactly the type of market manipulation we hoped the FCC’s Open Internet rules would prevent,” Feld added. “If the Commission does not believe it has the authority under those rules to investigate this practice, it should do so under its general authority over wireless services.”

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Throttling unlimited data plans is pointless, study finds

Thursday, February 23rd, 2012

AT&T’s questionable policy with regard to unlimited smartphone data plan holders recently found its way back into the limelight following a new wave of subscriber complaints. The nation’s No.2 carrier no longer offers an unlimited data plan to smartphone users, though many subscribers on its network still have grandfathered plans that provide an unlimited amount of smartphone data each month. Subscribers who approach the top 5% of unlimited data users in a single billing period see their data speeds throttled, however, and countless users have found that AT&T is now beginning to throttle users after less than 2GB of data usage in a billing period. According to a new study, subscribers are right to be furious at AT&T because throttling does nothing to alleviate network bandwidth issues. Read on for more.

Wireless bill analysis firm Validas extracted data from more than 55,000 cell phone bills belonging to AT&T and Verizon Wireless subscribers from 2011, and the firm sought to determine whether or not data throttling is necessary. According to Validas’s findings, throttling may indeed simply be a ploy to push unlimited users into newer tiered plans.

“When we look at the top 5% of data users, there is virtually no difference in data consumption between those on unlimited and those on tiered plans—and yet the unlimited consumers are the ones at risk of getting their service turned off,” Validas wrote in its report. “So it’s curious that anyone would think the throttling here represents a serious effort at alleviating network bandwidth issues. After all, Sprint does seemingly fine maintaining non-throttled unlimited data for its customers.”

Verizon Wireless subscribers on unlimited smartphone data plans actually used less data on average than those with tiered plans according to Validas’s data. The opposite was the case at AT&T, however the difference was 0.78GB on average and median data usage varied by 0.53GB.

AT&T is not the only wireless carrier in the U.S. that throttles smartphone data speeds for unlimited data plan holders, of course. Verizon throttles the top 5% of unlimited data users and T-Mobile throttles its smartphone subscribers after 5GB of data usage in a single billing period. AT&T has drawn the most attention of late because it has been throttling unlimited data plan holders after less than 2GB of usage in many cases. AT&T offers a 3GB tiered plan for the same $30 per month that unlimited plan holders pay for 2GB of full-speed data or less, however the tiered plan offers 3GB of full-speed data.

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LTE pricing may drop as much as 60% by 2016

Wednesday, December 21st, 2011

The monthly price we pay for 4G LTE data could drop drastically over the next five years. Currently, 4G LTE networks are blazing fast but there’s no doubt that the technology comes at a price. 4G LTE handsets sold directly by wireless carriers typically cost more than their 3G counterparts, and tiered 4G data prices are still a bit too costly for heavy data users looking to ditch their cable companies. Verizon Wireless, for example, currently charges $80 for 20GB of data per month while Time Warner Cable sells digital TV service and a 10Mbps unlimited monthly data connection for $89 per month (in New York City). But 4G LTE data prices could fall as much as 60% by 2016, or to about 20 Euro ($26) on average for monthly service according to Tariff Consultancy (TCL). Pricing is expected to decline as more wireless operators begin to offer 4G LTE services and the amount of subscribers on those networks increases. Verizon Wireless and AT&T have each deployed 4G LTE networks in the United States this past year, and Sprint will be the third major wireless carrier to deploy its LTE network next year. The TCL report also suggests that there will be more than 250 million 4G LTE subscribers by 2016.

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Verizon Begins Throttling Bandwidth for Top 5% of Data Users [Verizon]

Sunday, September 18th, 2011

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