In October of last year, the US based mobile carrier AT&T had advised customers that were on the unlimited data plan that they could expect to see bandwidth throttling introduced into the mobile plans. According to AT&T, these unlimited data plans were putting a strain on network resources and over time, the mobile carrier phased out these plans to new customers, recommending instead tiered data plans.
Still, if you managed to get onto one of these plans before they were eliminated, AT&T honoured their agreement with you and allowed you to keep it under a grandfathered clause. In terms of the throttling that customers of the unlimited plans could expect, AT&T did clarify their position on this stating that 95% of the users would not see any throttling with restrictions only being placed on the top 5% of users. When throttling was first introduced, it was determined that users that made use of 10GB-20GB of data per month could expect to see their network speeds decline.
This year however, it would seem that the ceiling has dropped significantly. Unlike previously where there seemed to be some rough ceiling, today, the ceiling seems to also be a bit more region specific. Take for example the situation of John Cozen who received a notification from AT&T that advised that he was now in the top 5% of network users during the month of January. The first thing Cozen did after receiving this warning was to check his data usage, only to find that he utilized 2.1GB of data transfer last month. In checking with AT&T customer service, he was advised that this notification was not in error and that he was indeed within the top 5% of their user base.
Cozen was obviously angry with the news, especially seeing that he pays roughly $30 for his plan and for the same amount, AT&T offers an unthrottled 3GB data plan. We’ll have to see if we get more reports such as this, but the early indications are that AT&T bandwidth throttling may have some regional influences as well.