Before AT&T tiered data plans started coming into effect, users were happy to be unlimited data subscribers. Once the changes went into place they would be grandfathered, allowing them to keep their unlimited plan. This was before AT&T started throttling its top 5% of data consumers. Grandfathered customers are now suffering from an interesting effect in the system.
AT&T throttles the top 5% of data consumers in their network, but this is not just an estimate. They literally throttle the top 5%, regardless of where that limit happens to fall, that month. This would mean that if AT&T managed to keep convincing subscribers to use less and less data, the limit would go down, along with the users’ habits. If the top 5% miraculously managed to use only 200 MB a month (or 20 GB), that is where the limit would hit.
The situation is not as critical yet, but “unlimited” data users are certainly experiencing a lower throttling cap. And it seems like tiered data plan subscribers also come into the equation, even though only unlimited users are being throttled.
After going about his business as regular, AT&T user John Cozen was notified that he was being throttled for falling under the 5% top users window. He had only used 2.1 GB of data in that month. After a series of e-mails, AT&T confirmed that this was not a mistake, and the top 5% was being throttled after using just a bit over 2 GB of data.
AT&T’s new smartphone data plans include:
- AT&T Data Plus 300MB: $20 for 300MB
- AT&T Data Pro 3GB: $30 for 3GB
- AT&T Data Pro 5GB: $50 for 5GB, with mobile hotspot / tethering
It might no longer be convenient to be grandfathered into those unlimited data plans (unless you don’t mind the slower speeds). Of course, tiered data plans are not affected. If one pays the equally priced $30 plan, you get 3 GB of data, which is about an extra GB compared to unlimited data subscribers (before being throttled).
The tables have turned around, and unlimited data plans might not be as great as we thought. At least with AT&T. It just might be time for power users to start saying goodbye to their grandfathered plans. They could be getting a better deal with the 3 GB tiered data plan.
Have any of our readers experienced a similar problem? Would you rather leave your grandfathered plan to get that tiered 3 GB plan?