Select AT&T Unlimited Data Customers to See Slower Download Speeds

For users that constantly find themselves using their unlimited data plans on AT&T’s network to stay connected with friends as well as to enjoy streaming music and movies, a degraded mobile Internet experience may be in the cards for their future. That is, if they happen to be in the group of customers that are the carrier’s top data users.

Mobile customers that are in AT&T’s top 5% of data consumers will have their download speeds slowed down in order to reduce their overall impact on the network, partly to benefit the rest of the people using it. Notices will be provided in advance and speeds will be reset once a new monthly billing period begins until Internet habits reach the state that led to the initial throttling.

The only way to currently be on AT&T’s unlimited data plan is to have been “grandfathered in,” or already paying for unlimited data prior to the carrier’s move towards tier-based Internet usage. The data buffet is an offering absent from all major carriers to both new and existing customers looking to modify their plan besides Sprint. Now, it is offered as an incentive to keep customers loyal to the carrier that they happened to have been on while data was still all-you-can-eat.

This does not apply to anybody paying for data a la carte (off of an unlimited plan) since being a top user in that scenario simply means a higher bill.

A statement from AT&T in the past has indicated that 97% of customers managed to get through less than 2GB per month, a telling sign that it is mainly customers that pass the 2GB barrier that have to be cautious or otherwise risk slower downloads and uploads.

With this move, AT&T is taking a page out of Verizon book since Verizon has similar limits already in place. However AT&T is subtly more gracious to customers with notices and quick speed restores.

AT&T’s planned limitations will go into effect on October 1. As our phones are becoming more Internet-focused and more akin to personal computers as the years go by, it is ironic that the Internet functionality has to be limited; the forwardness of smartphones and inability for carriers to keep up is the reason.

[AT&T Press Release]