The Associated Press today published an article discussing AT&T Wireless' new caps on users who have unlimited data plans. If you are unfamiliar with the issue at hand, here it is in a nutshell: AT&T, in an effort to entice subscribers, created a $30 unlimited mobile data plan. This was several years ago, when smartphones were not so smart and you really had to work at using a whole lot of data. Then, shortly after Apple announced the first iPad and with it, unlimited data, they dropped the unlimited data plan in favor of tiered data plans. But if you had the unlimited data plan, you could keep it. Great.
I guess AT&T isn't happy with how much data is being used by their users though. They announced that as of October 1, 2011, they would start throttling the data speeds of the top five percent of it's heaviest data users. At the time, they didn't tell you what that was and you didn't know until you received a notice that you were in the top 5% in your region. So you could technically use the same amount of data each month and some months be in the top 5% and some months not.
Last week AT&T introduced new data plans which give you more data, but at a higher price. You used to be able to get a 2GB plan, but now that is gone and they've replaced it with a 3GB plan for $30. Note the dollar amount. $30 dollars. The same $30 that got you unlimited data now gets you 3GB. Okay. So why is AT&T throttling people who use as little as 2GB if they're still getting the same money and have users who aren't hitting their (AT&T's) own $30 ceiling?
I get that more people are using more data and it is not cost-effective to continue to offer unlimited data. According to the AP article, AT&T does point out that they do not guarantee a speed, so it is technically within their right to throttle. But it does not make sense to throttle at 2GB when you offer higher capacity plans for the same amount of money. And (this is the real crux of the issue), whether AT&T guaranteed me a high data speed or not, there can be no dispute about the fact that I did NOT sign up for slow data speeds. My expectation is that I will get the highest data speeds that AT&T is capable of delivering to my device. I'm not abusing my plan by tethering, etc. I am working within the confines of my contract and the expectation is that AT&T will as well. Their throttling is NOT acting in good faith and I encourage all AT&T data plan users to pressure AT&T to live up to their commitments. This includes Congress, who should look into these deceptive practices.