Thursday, February 16, 2012

AT&T Throttling: A Flawed System

It is no secret anymore that AT&T is throttling their top 5% of unlimited data users (that means slowing data speeds to a crawl for you non techies). You would think that this wouldn't be a big deal for the average person, and It shouldn't. Except due to the tiered plans AT&T put in place a few years ago the top 5% is shifting lower and lower. People are now reporting getting warnings at 1.5GB and being throttled at around 2GB of data.

I see AT&T's need for throttling to manage the network due to their "lack of spectrum" claims, but just because you are over the 5% limit shouldn't mean you no longer get usable data speeds. When Verizon implemented throttling for unlimited 3G users they made a point to make it as friendly as possible. Verizon's system works differently. With Verizon, once you hit the top 5% threshold you can be throttled, but you aren't all the time. If you are 4G customer you can use all the data you want, and suffer no throttling, but if you are a 3G customer and in the top 5% you will be throttled when connected to a congested cell site. This means that if you are not on a tower that needs "optimization" you will be allowed to run at full speed.

It seems to me that AT&T has other plans behind their throttling. Since you are throttled everywhere once you pass the threshold, no matter network congestion. Needless to say, it will make for a very unpleasant billing cycle. It seems that AT&T may actually want to make you mad to get you to sign up on a tiered plan so the throttling will stop. Although if I were in that situation I would be leaving and find another carrier.

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