March 2, 2012
AT&T Forced To Open Up About Throttling Policy
It´s a common fact that AT&T throttles user data speeds once they´ve used a certain amount of data, but the company was silent on when and whom was being affected with the practice, and it often appeared arbitrary. Unlimited did not equal unlimited, not in the common use of the word anyway.
From now on, however, the rules for data-throttling, affecting those who subscribe to AT&T´s “unlimited plans”, are clear, writes Roger Yu for USA Today.Customers with a 3G or 4G smart phone, that are still under AT&T´s unlimited data plan, will see speeds reduced if they use 3GB of data or more in a billing cycle. The company promises that speeds will return to normal at the start of the next billing cycle.
Customers with a 4G LTE smart phone and an unlimited data plan will be throttled if usage is 5GB or more in a billing cycle.
AT&T said in a statement responding to complaints that throttling began much sooner, “Our unlimited plan customers have told us they want more clarity around how the program works and what they can expect.”
After many months of non-responsive answers to complaints, AT&T may be opening up to avoid legal troubles.
Student Matt Spaccarelli recently sued AT&T and won $850 in damages from a small claims court in Simi Valley, Calif. The judge ruled that AT&T´s “unlimited” data service shouldn´t be slowed.
“Spaccarelli could have many imitators,” Peter Svensson of the Associated Press (AP) said. “AT&T has some 17 million customers with ℠unlimited data´ plans who can be subject to throttling. That´s nearly half of its smart phone users.”
“AT&T forbids them from consolidating their claims into a class action or taking them to a jury trial. That leaves small claims actions and arbitration.”
If other AT&T customers do follow suit, they could have additional ammunition for their claims following last week´s release of a study by Validas, a firm which helps smart phone customers save money when choosing data plans.
Other networks throttle to various degrees but are more open to the limits. T-Mobile throttles after 2 GB for its basic unlimited plan. Sprint, which offers unlimited plans, doesn´t throttle but says it can kick out data abusers. Verizon also says it may throttle the top 5 percent of heavy users.
Customers will never praise AT&T over the data throttling on a plan labeled “unlimited,” it´s good that there are at least clearer guidelines, writes Rosa Golijan for MSNBC.
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