Feb 09 AT 4:38 PM Nick Gray 40 Comments

AT&T tries to justify 2GB data throttling threshold for unlimited customers


A few days back, we told you the story of an AT&T customer whose data was throttled once he used a little more than 2GB on his unlimited plan. It’s no secret that AT&T has been throttling data for the top five percent of consumers since last year, but none of us were expecting that the cutoff would begin at the 2GB threshold.

In order to explain the company’s actions, Mark Siegel, an AT&T spokesman has pointed out to the Wall Street Journal that AT&T’s top five percent data consuming customers use an average of 2GB per month. While AT&T reserves the right to throttle all customer who fall into that category, it’s not an automatic process. AT&T actually takes into account the user’s location and network capacity before enabling data throttling. Based on this system,  “less than 1 percent of AT&T smartphone customers” were effected by data throttling policy last month.

There’s a very good chance you wouldn’t be slowed.Mark SiegelAT&T

While we’d like to take Mark Siegel at his word, the details are too vague.  We don’t know how many of AT&T’s customers are still grandfathered into AT&T’s unlimited data plan, but we can guarantee that the “less than 1 percent of AT&T smartphone customers” calculation also accounts for all of AT&T’s customers with metered data plans.

We know that data throttling is here to stay. All we want is for carriers to be 100% transparent and tell consumers exactly when they will reach the throttling threshold.  What do you think AT&T should do to fix this issue?

Source: New York Times

Nick is a tech enthusiast who has a soft spot for HTC and its devices. He started HTCsource.com (the first HTC blog) back in 2007 and later joined the Android and Me family in the summer of 2010.

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  • http://www.jaxidian.org/update/ jaxidian

    What do I think AT&T should do to solve this problem? Easy. For people who have paid many dollars for many years, stop limiting their unlimited plans unless they are abusing the network. Consuming 2GB is FAR from abusing the network. I’m not sure where abuse begins but it is most certainly NOT at 2GB.

    • redraider133

      It may be abusing at&t’s network since they didn’t put as much money into expanding and enhancing it….

      • http://www.jaxidian.org/update/ jaxidian

        Verizon sells a 20GB monthly plan. Consuming 10% of a direct competitor’s offering is NOT abuse. Additionally, AT&T sells a 2GB plan for CHEAPER than the unlimited. Hitting that mark is NOT abuse.

        Your point about AT&T not enhancing their network properly, though – I think we’re in agreement there.

      • http://www.jaxidian.org/update/ jaxidian

        (man, I wish there was an Edit button)

        To clarify, if 2GB is too much of a strain on AT&T’s network, the abuse is on AT&T’s side and not our side.

  • dacatalyst41

    Typical At&t for you!

  • Trinhbo

    Raise the throttle limit to 5 GB at least! Using only 2GB can barely be considered “abusing” the system.

  • http://htcsource.com Nick Gray

    I know AT&T has better coverage than T-Mobile, but at least you know what you’re getting with T-Mobile’s “unlimited data” plans which start throttling at 2GB.

  • AndrewL

    There is a major disconnect in what they are saying and what they are doing.

    Are they targeting huge data users who are dragging down the network by abusing their data plan, or are they targeting only a handful of people and the majority shouldn’t worry about anything?

    2gb in not a huge amount of data and it is not dragging down their network as is evident when you look at the fact that plans for more than 2gb are offered by them. Also, they aren’t targeting people that are abusing their unlimited plan. Rather, they are targeting people who are simply using their unlimited data plan.

    I would hazard a guess that anybody with an unlimited data plan who used more than 2gb is the markets they’ve chosen to start with will get the notice. And after a few months of picking on those people (looks to be dallas, LA, oklahoma city, DC, and maybe chicago), they will move on to other markets. This is nothing more than a ploy to get people on tiered plans where they can charge for overages. Nothing more, nothing less. And it’s disgusting.

    • kyle

      yes Chicago

  • spazby

    Typical at&t bullshit

  • NeoDaNeenjah

    My wife as an unlimited iPhone data plan and now EVERY month she gets throttled right around the 2GB threshold. It is driving her nuts and she is almost ready to leave ATT. The most my wife ever used was 5GB one month of her data plan. Typically she uses around 2-3GB per month but as of November last year, she has been averaging 4-5GB per month.

    I told her she wouldn’t have this problem if she would be watching Netflix all the time at work! LOL!

    We are in the LA market.

  • nsnsmj

    2GB is an absurdly low number to throttle someone on an unlimited plan. It’s just an attempt by at&t to get people to switch over to their overpriced capped plans. What makes this even more messed up is the fact that they offer capped plans that are more than 2GB. What does that mean? A person on a capped 3GB plan won’t be throttled at 2GB, but someone on an unlimited plan will. There’s no logic in that. It should be illegal.

    • honourbound68

      Nod. This really seems like a ploy to get people to convert

      • BigCiX

        Before I convert to a tiered plan I’d try my best to stream the most data hog app 24/7.

  • KennyL

    Maybe if they stopped blaming the consumer and took responsibility for their sub-par network they would fix this. Glad I’m not with them. Although, frankly Verizon isn’t much better.

  • http://tinkerdad.blogspot.com xfaith

    2GB is really low to start throttling. I probably average about 2 every month, im on unlimited, might just start netflix 24/7 to see how high I can get in one month. Then they might have an argument. If I hit 15GB would that be to much.

    I am switching over to a 4G phone shortly so I would expect my usage to also go up from 2GB to more. Also if they have a 3GB plan how can you throttle @ 2GB if your highest is 3GB.

    We were all grandfathered in. At worse they could say everyone who had unlimted now something like 6GB or something like that. pretty much only reason i am still on ATT is the unlimited data,

  • BigCiX

    Its ridiculous that we get throttled at 2gb and have to suffer from 3-4 min loading pages. I got the email to right after I reached the 2 gig mark that I was in the top 5%. Someone needs to step in and let at&t know that is nowhere near abusing the system. This is by far the worse carrier!

  • http://www.rebelbits.com criddar

    Can I throttle my AT&T bill then? I’ll pay the first $50 right away, and then send a penny an hour via my bank’s Bill Pay.

    Guarantee that what they’re saving in bandwidth costs by throttling, they’ll lose in payment processing costs ten fold.

    And I don’t think my contract has a provision against paying a penny an hour.

  • yankeesusa

    This just absurd. Att is always screwing their customers. I’m glad I convinced my mom to ditch att long time ago. But usually this means that other companies will copy them also (verizon). I hope Sprint sticks by their unlimited data for a while or if they switch to tiered data that they keep it at 5gb. Either way the company not to choose is definitely not the company to choose.

  • Shawn Clark

    …Either way it goes…AT&T robbin people…4GLTE with low data usage does no good…going over your 4GLTE limit does no good…Yea they have good quality phones but they plans are shit. My opinion is this…AT&T is a company that can take alotta heat cause they financially great…aint got nothin to lose…so in other words they can do shit like this…losing a customer aint nothin…they got branches of companies under their umbrella to make the difference…just my opinion.

  • StretchDee1

    It just seems like if you have a contract that states unlimited data then that is what it should be. They didn’t mind taking the money from the individuals and giving them the unlimited plan, I think that if they, (AT&T) don’t uphold their end of the bargain then it should be a breach of contract and grounds for a law suit.

  • KaBa

    Good thing that I live in Austria, where i get 1000 free minutes to all networks, 1000 free messages to all networks and 1gb data for just 10 dollars. Now go beat that if you can ;)
    Oh and if you want a plan for you tablet you can get 1 from just 4 dollars for 1gb to 12 dollars for 15gb.

  • Jim

    PLEASE READ! FOUND BIG FLAW IN AT&T’s throttle plan.
    1. On 2/7/2012 last day of billing cycle I was at 1.8gb of data.
    During the day I (on purpose) used 200+mb of data to see when the throttle would kick in, never got msg or throttle.
    2. On 2/8/2012 5AM got msg that I was in the TOP 5% and would be throttled. I did not worry since it was the first day of new billing cycle and usage was 0.0 for the month.
    3. On 2/9/2012 I was throttled when usage for the month was at 17.5 MB.
    4. Called AT&T and told them they were liars. That I should have never been throttled since the new billing cycle was supposed to reset everything. That is in their written release!
    5. Took them over an hour to figure out how to even UN-Throttle me since they admit a flaw in the system. The CS rep basically stated that the msg should have gone to me on the 7th when I reached 2 GB (Notice Not Top 5%… 2 GB), but we all know this is data is billed at night, which is why I did my test. They did restore my speed after 1 hour and gave me a credit.

    She said that I was the first person that has called that she knows of that had this happen to them! I FOUND A FLAW! I am glad my test worked.

    They are liars, cheats and don’t even test their own system! I am done with the throttle thing since I never use more than 1.5 gig a month. Well until they make the cap 1GB, then I am screwed!

    Keep treating your loyal customers this way AT&T… Nice job!

  • JB

    Please, everyone who hits limit should turn off WIFI and download as much as possible. I know this does not amount to much data at the severely throttled rates, but if you don’t do this you will find that the point at which you reach the top 5% drops every month. A throttled data rate is virtually worthless and basically disables the phone for many applications. It also destroys battery life since even small amounts of data now takes hours of connect time.

    • BigCiX

      I don’t think that matters cause we are all getting throttled at 2 gigs. But just to let u know I still don’t use wifi at the gym when I’m streaming live radio (Power 106). I’m currently at 2412 mb’s (2.2 gigs) and each day at the gym I probably listen to it for about 2 hours. (Streaming radio at 64kbps uses about 28mb per hour) so that’s around 50 mb’s per workout session. HERE’S THE THING THOUGH ……..during the morning and late evenings, data speeds are pretty much normal prior before throttled speeds. At least in my area. So I usually take advantage of it during those times.

      • BigCiX

        Forgot to mention that my data starts all over on the 19th.

  • Daniel G

    So far this month I have used over 6gb of data, I recieved a text and email about my data usage and getting throttled back if I continue to you this much. Why buy a phone and then limit me on how I can use it……

  • Art

    Don’t fight it…just carry on. You all know what is considered “abuse” or probably the term “fair use policy”. I pay for every kilowatt, gallon and cubic feet of my utility – and it’s not cheap. It’s not going away – so just pay for what you use or change usage patterns.

    • eallan

      And you’re exactly why we get fucked by big companies. Thanks for nothing.

  • Dxtra

    We’re screwed! Phones bills when from 40-60 , iPhone era 80-100, to now the Data era 120-150 probably more. 5gb data plan is the only way to go. But not me I’m considering dropping my data plan all together eff at&t, and their bend over attitude. I’m done

  • matt

    What should they do? They should stop being dicks

  • Chrome Ninja


    Really? I pay for utilities and gas too. I pay more for my cell plan than I do for electricity. I’ve payed AT&T on time every month since they were Cingular. If the electric company started cutting your power every month bcz you liked to sleep with a night light on, how would you feel?

    • BigCiX

      Excuse Art……he works for at&t

  • cb2000a

    ATT is going downhill fast. Glad I left them 3 years ago.

  • Reef215


  • http://www.infotainmentempire.com pekosROB

    Rollover GBs/MBs wouldn’t be a bad idea…

  • JimboJones

    What pisses me off about all of this is that they’re saying that they dont want people over using or congesting their network, but isn’t the unlimited plan $30, while they also offer a $30 plan for 3GB?? so why throttle someone at 2GB on unlimited and say “thats using too much” but then offer the same price for another data plan that goes up to 3GB?

  • steveanderson1357

    How can it be that 5% by market can be 2 gig everywhere?

  • Raafay

    What’s the use of 4g LTE, and a smartphone if you are getting throttled at 2gb. Most of the unlimited data plan have been loyal customers of Att for ages, and this it’s what they get. Att abuses the fact it has such a large customer base, extracting as much money as it can without providing good service. No wonder it is the lowest rated network. I am one of the unlimited customers stuck on a contact, I don’t recommend Att to anyone.

  • Richard Cabrera

    I’m sick of atts bullshig and am planning to leave soon how do they expect to win customers being Nazi style with there products and services as soon as my contracts up I. May be heading to verizon they have the best service and android products.