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  (Source: flickr.com)
Customers are outraged, saying AT&T is just trying to get them to use tiered data plans

Unlimited data plans seem to be a thing of the past for most U.S. carriers. Verizon, AT&T and T-Mobile all axed their unlimited data options over the last year, but users who had unlimited data before the plans were cut could typically continue to do so  -- except the experience hasn't been so great for AT&T customers.

AT&T currently does not offer unlimited data plans for subscribers. Instead, it switched to tiered data plans where a certain amount of data was allotted to customers for a set price, unless they go over that amount, which leads to extra monthly fees.
 
In 2011, AT&T announced that it was planning to throttle unlimited smartphone users come October 2011. This would only affect the top 5 percent of heavy data users, where their data speeds would be reduced significantly once reaching a certain point.

AT&T never revealed when speeds would slow down for these users, but made sure to notify them via SMS that they were approaching that point. The problem was, unlimited users were noticing that they were reaching this point after only about 2 GB of data used. In some instances, users even received these notices at only 1.6 GB of data used.

"They're coaxing you toward the tiered plan," said Gregory Tallman from Hopatcong, New Jersey, who has an unlimited plan from AT&T for his iPhone 4S. He received a warning from AT&T after only 1.5 GB of data used.

From October until the present, AT&T unlimited data customers have been jumping to forums and news outlets to complain about AT&T's over-the-top throttling. Customers feel they are getting ripped off, since the $30 tiered plan is currently offering 50 percent more data than AT&T's grandfathered unlimited plans.

The kicker is that throttling heavy users doesn't help improve the data network because they typically consume this data during off-peak hours, according to BGR.

AT&T announced that it was getting rid of unlimited data plans back in 2010. T-Mobile followed suit in May 2011, and Verizon Wireless killed off its unlimited plans in July 2011. Sprint is the only remaining provider of unlimited data plans, and insists unlimited data is here to stay.

While unlimited data continues to slowly die off, carriers like AT&T and Verizon Wireless are currently working on offering shared and family data plans instead, where users can share one batch of data for various devices such as smartphones, tablets and USB modems for laptops.

But shared data efforts aren’t getting AT&T completely off the hook. Just last week, AT&T announced a crushing blow for users: the smartphone upgrade fee doubled from $18 to $36, effective February 12, 2012.

Sources: Channel 9 News, ZDNet



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Loving Sprint
By Dr of crap on 2/15/2012 10:03:51 AM , Rating: 5
Why yes, I DO HAVE UNLIMITED data on Sprint.
So as long as it lasts I'm using it up!
Come on over the the unlimited side.




RE: Loving Sprint
By imaheadcase on 2/15/2012 10:55:36 AM , Rating: 5
The problem is sprint sucks in most areas. Its like cable companies, its dominated by the top players.


RE: Loving Sprint
By cknobman on 2/15/2012 12:07:18 PM , Rating: 3
It may not be the fastest but at least in my market I get pretty good WiMax coverage and I am more than fine with 4-8 mbps on my mobile device.

I have streamed every Grand Slam tennis event and tons of basketball without ever having speed or throttling issues.

Once I consumed 5GB in one week!!!


RE: Loving Sprint
By kmmatney on 2/15/2012 1:24:28 PM , Rating: 2
Yeah, but if everyone goes to Sprint as does that, it won't last long. What I have heard is that AT&T is only throttling the biggest users, which is OK by me. I would consider myself a power-user, and I quite often tether (Jailbroken iPhone) and I still only use about 1 GB per month. You just have to make intelligent use of Wifi.


RE: Loving Sprint
By prophet001 on 2/16/2012 1:41:33 PM , Rating: 2
"What I have heard is that AT&T is only throttling the biggest users, which is OK by me."

This is a poor comment on every level. If they sell you "unlimited data" then you paid for "unlimited data."

You are not the gatekeeper. The justice distributor. Such a disturbing comment in so many ways.


RE: Loving Sprint
By AT&T victim on 2/25/2012 1:10:59 PM , Rating: 2
AT&T is absolutely lying when they say they are only throttling the top 5%. My husband and I have a grandfathered account. He regularly listens to a radio show via Pandora and has several times gotten the SMS MSG warning him about usage, although we didn't understand why as his monthly usage was very low. He doesn't text send pictures or much else. We weren't aware of the throttling issue and he did not experience any problems with data usage.. On the other hand, I do all those things and use my GPS almost constantly. I did not get any warnings but I have been throttled to the point of being completely unable to load maps at all. This started back in October, at a time when we were moving. I thought it was a signal problem or something wrong with my phone. It has only been the past couple of weeks that my husband also began having problems - the phone freezes and will not load a map or Google search. So yesterday, when I heard the story of this suit, I had the Aha! moment. I will be filing my suit ASAP. It there are any lawyers out ther who want to spearhead the class action - we would be a great exemplar case. We are not kids who "play" with our phones, we are older retirees who use these "tools" and who have al problems when they do not function. Since we recently moved and I don't know the area yet, I have needed my maps, once to find an urgently needed hospital. Thank goodness ther was someone to give directions. If not, maybe I would be suing for more than just bad service.


RE: Loving Sprint
By fcx56 on 2/15/2012 2:58:44 PM , Rating: 2
I also have Sprint. A couple of people with AT&T came into my bar two days ago, one of them complaining about his service being slow. He was clearly being throttled, so he said. I got into the conversation and suggested we run some speed tests. All three of us had an iPhone 4 or 4S, signal was around -90dB on all devices. The AT&T user that was being throttled was indeed roughly five times slower than the AT&T user who was at full speed. The problem with all this? My Sprint connection was the same or worse. I have nothing against Sprint, but it seems to me that the 3G landscape (which the majority of people still use) really is picking the lesser of evils from carrier to carrier.


Jeez....
By Omega215D on 2/15/2012 10:08:07 AM , Rating: 4
1.5 - 2GB isn't really a lot, so I doubt people like him are the top 5% data users. Through normal usage I see 800MB - 2.5GB a month just by web browsing with videos, app updates or new apps, emails from work containing PDFs or other docs, along with weather or transit updates. Oh, and google maps w/ points of interest since I'm traveling a lot. Thankfully I'm still on an Unlimited plan and Verizon hasn't given me any problems.

Instead of spending all that money to acquire T-Mobile or some other BS, AT&T could've made improvements to their network. Makes me wonder what will happen to their LTE network once more subscribers have new and improved phones with LTE.




RE: Jeez....
By Arsynic on 2/15/2012 10:59:43 AM , Rating: 5
This has NOTHING to do with network performance on AT&T's part. It has EVERYTHING to do with them trying to coax their grandfathered unlimited customers to go with the tiered data plans.


RE: Jeez....
By x10Unit1 on 2/15/2012 10:55:37 AM , Rating: 2
Before I start, I don't the way tiered data plans are setup and I don't like the fact that unlimited plans are gone(except sprint). Anyways:

It is when you start adding up all of their users. I think a couple of things might have happened. The providers were not prepared for the huge increase in network traffic these smartphones brought them. I am sure it costs a lot of upgrade their networks to support the increase of traffic and by doing so would cut too much into their profits to upgrade it enough to meet demands. And out of pure speculation, businesses make more money by charging extra fees like going over your limit so a tiered plan would allow them to do this.

I have a grandfathered unlimited plan and the places I go the most, I have access to their wifi. More and more businesses have free wifi. Just ask. It doesn't help when you are on the move but it sure help reduce the amount of data you use a month. Plus the speeds are faster.

Maybe I just haven't been paying attention all of my life but this "race to the bottom" when it comes to services offered by huge corporations is interesting, if not scary.


RE: Jeez....
By Omega215D on 2/15/2012 11:17:33 AM , Rating: 2
I'd figure I get my money's worth. A while back I relied on a mix of wifi and cell data but many times it would be spotty unless I stop into a Starbucks or McD's (NYC public wifi is a bit bad). I'm also on the go a lot where wifi isn't available but 3G/ 4G is.

Either way I'm paying for it and 1 - 2GB of data is not obscene.


RE: Jeez....
By x10Unit1 on 2/15/2012 12:23:28 PM , Rating: 2
I see where you are coming from. I am not saying not to use 3G/4G or to get what you think your money is worth out of your data plan.

However, these data caps are not going away and most likely are going to get worse before they get better. My suggestion was merely a way to reduce total bandwidth used unnecessarily when there is wifi around. This would allow you to have the maximum amount of "uncapped" data speed available for when you are truly mobile.

Granted with people more on the move, like yourself, that is a little harder to do. But it is at least worth a try. I am sure you will agree with me, but I am glad I am still on the unlimited plan even with data caps in place. At least we won't get overage fees.


Poor bastards...
By masamasa on 2/15/2012 10:59:04 AM , Rating: 2
Not. Have you seen our lousy plans up here in Canada? Worst pricing for cell service, limited data downloads. If anyone is getting stung it's us. We have one of the highest cell phone rates in the world. 1.5 GB??? Wow...that's an upgrade.




RE: Poor bastards...
By Omega215D on 2/15/2012 11:20:26 AM , Rating: 2
Your data caps are actually lower? Just wow...


RE: Poor bastards...
By sapster86 on 2/15/2012 11:30:39 AM , Rating: 2
here in the uk 500mb or even 250mb is the norm unless your on really expensive packages.


RE: Poor bastards...
By Zoomer on 2/15/2012 12:45:50 PM , Rating: 2
500 MB can be consumed in like minutes.


RE: Poor bastards...
By karikamiya on 2/16/2012 11:11:30 AM , Rating: 2
i used to live in canada, 500mb was the basic rate, anything more was an upgrade. its pathetic. i now live in bahrain and pay the same amount for "unlimited"

i read the fine print and discovered its not unlimited but i dont really care. comparison @ about 30 bucks:

CANADA: Fair usage: 5GB and you get cut

BAHRAIN: Fair usage: 100GB and you get slowed, 1TB and you get cut


ATT
By MonkeyPaw on 2/15/2012 9:51:53 AM , Rating: 5
I'm surprised they didn't blame the T-mobile merger fail as the reason for this, or maybe they just haven't gotten around to it yet.




I got the message earlier this month
By CZroe on 2/15/2012 1:23:49 PM , Rating: 2
I got the message earlier this month and heard about people in the same area getting them at around 2.2GB (metro Atlanta). It was my first time breaking 5GB at 5.1GB.

What infuriates me is that I should not be compared to the top 5% of "all" smartphone users or the top 5% of local smartphone users: OF COURSE I am going to use more data if I maintained an unlimited plan! I should only be compared to the top 5% of grandfathered-in AT&T Unlimited Data Plan users. Even then, I am a techie and I expect to use more than 90% of the masses of smartphone users: THAT'S WHY I HELD ON TO AND PAID MORE FOR UNLIMITED! Being in the top 5% doesn't put me in some ridiculously over-the-top abuser category like they imply, so that is the FIRST part of this that needs to be challenged.




By sigmatau on 2/15/2012 3:21:45 PM , Rating: 2
I'm also a tech and use my phone for streaming radio and GPS navigation while on long trips to sites that I do every day. I have to answer emails constantly and upload 2-3 MB pictures often for work. I also download lots of apps, watch video sometimes, and browse the web very often on my phone. I also use it to check my college homework assignments, lectures, and other school material.

I have kept WIFI off completely. months at a time and usually only do around 3GB of day per month. The only time I went at or past 5GB is when my home Internet went out for over a week and I was bored.

I'd say 5GB is just right for me at least and I would wager for about 99% of all users. I would see it acceptable to throttle after 5GB, but not quite to the point of making your phone useless.

AT&T is really asking for it. They have people with unlimited plans which would mean they are returning customers. I guess the question to ask is would you rather have a customer of only a one 2-year contract or two of them with the second contract slightly less profitable. It makes no sense for AT&T to upset their repeat customers and make them defect to other service providers.

AT&T has no case IMO. You can get a 3GB plan for the same amount as the unlimited plan, but the extra 2GB (to make it a total of 5GB) should at least be allowed as you don't have a 2 year customer but at least a 4 year customer.

Instead, AT&T treats their repeat customers worse than their new customers by giving the new customers a full 3GB at full speed but throttle unlimited customers that pay the same amount but get screwed sometimes only after 2GB.

That is total BS.


They have been doing it to me.
By BillyBatson on 2/15/2012 4:08:23 PM , Rating: 2
AT&T has throttled me the last 2 months and I'm sure they are going to this month as well. I don't have wifi at home or at work so I depend on my 3G but they have been warning be at about 1.7gb and throttling me after I hit 2gb... Completely absurd!




What a scam....
By Adam M on 2/15/2012 6:44:03 PM , Rating: 2
I want to know exactly what constitutes a heavy user. How do Att and others calculate this %5? I stream Pandora every day, easily using 1 to 2 gigs per day on that alone. Pandora or other music streaming apps seem to be pretty popular. It would seem that the majority of customers would fall into that "%5". Didn't we all buy these expensive smart phones to use these apps, to stay connected, to use data? If I were restricted to 5 gig per month I would rather switch to a feature phone with no data. Then my phone would become a WIFI only mini tablet.I would have to pay for and use home WIFI either way. Sprint may be slow, (I cannot even get 4g on my Evo in Denver anymore) but Unlimited is Unlimited.




By bull2760 on 2/27/2012 1:16:16 PM , Rating: 2
I'm a Network Admin and have AT&T's unlimited plan (grand fathered in). I by no means come close to even 1GB a month. Do you actually have jobs, and work while at that job? Do you use your phone so much because you are behind a firewall that is restricting and don't want guys like me seeing what your doing? Seriously it's mind boggling that you can spend this much time on you phone(s)? I'd rather look at a 24" monitor and surf the web, than 3.7 - 4.7 inch screen in my hand. Here is some free advise stop playing with your cell phones, try socializing face to face with people, get out and interact. Technology is great but you geeks really need to take a break and learn actual people skills. If you put as much effort into interacting with people as you do interacting with your phone you might actually accomplish something in life. Education is definitely being wasted on the youth!




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