AT&T has confirmed it will begin throttling high data users beginning October 1st.
The new policy will only affect those who are still using the unlimited data plan and even still, only the top 5 percent of those users will be subjected to the throttle. Throttling is when the speed of a device is lowered to keep it from consuming more data which would lower the bandwidth AT&T has to supply to its customers. There is no word on what the throttle will be set at, but it most likely will be based on varying limits set month-to-month.
AT&T is just the latest of many other wireless carriers who have started to throttle the allowance of unlimited internet access, which is currently an issue in the industry, and a sign that the all-you-can-eat data era is coming to an end soon.
AT&T and T-Mobile are just some of the big name companies that have initiated throttling after years of offering an unlimited data plan. Verizon recently followed AT&T in switching over to a tiered data plan, while Sprint is one of the last networks to offer a truly unlimited data plan, but they have acknowledged that eventually their bandwidth demands will become too large to contain.
While AT&T claims the move will only affect a small minority of its customers in order to bring about higher quality for the rest of their users; many of the customers who are currently used to their unlimited data plan however, might not be too happy about the move. AT&T said in a recent statement that “These customers on average use 12 times more data than the average of all other smartphone data customers.”
AT&T has said they will issue several notices and a grace period for the high data users before throttling them and will restore their speeds at the next billing cycle. All of this has been planned to take affect just before the coming release of the new iPhone 5.
We have seen AT&T’s attempt to fix this problem last year when they moved to a tiered pricing structure, which capped users at 2 gigabytes of data per month, but customers who had an existing unlimited data plan offering kept their plans, meaning AT&T still had a base of heavy users to contend with.
The actions are largely in part of the growing number of customers who use their iPhones and how the bandwidth-intense device clogged up the network which resulted in poor service, particularly in major metropolitan areas such as New York and San Francisco.
With the new addition of the Android phones in the AT&T line-up, the explosive growth in data usage has caused AT&T to develop a way to deal with the quality of service and gives reasoning behind the recent purchase of T-Mobile.