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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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