In smart phone data jargon, “unlimited” may not mean unlimited anymore. Certainly not if your carrier is AT&T and you’ve held an “unlimited data” plan long past when the carrier implemented tiered plans.
AT&T has clarified the practice known as “throttling” – or slowing down the data speeds of customers with unlimited plans who reach a certain threshold.
You may be subject to data slowdowns if you use more than 3 gigabytes (GB), which means you are in the top 5 percent of data users in the AT&T network.
If you have a 4G LTE smart phone with monthly data usage over 5GB, you could also be subject to throttling.
AT&T published a Web page clarifying its throttling policy.
AT&T has been grappling with rising data traffic on its network as the popularity of smart phones and tablet computers increases.
Here’s what AT&T says will happen if you have a smart phone that works on their 3G or 4G network, and you still have an unlimited data plan:
- You’ll receive a text message when your usage approaches 3GB in one billing cycle.
- Each time you use 3GB or more in a billing cycle, your data speeds will be reduced for the rest of that billing cycle and then go back to normal.
- The next time you exceed that usage level, your speeds will be reduced without another text message reminder.
“If you’re an unlimited data customer and you don’t get a text message from us, you are among the 95% of smart phone customers whose speeds won’t be affected,” AT&T said.
With tiered data plans, speeds are not reduced. But you pay for data usage that exceeds a monthly allowance, depending on the plan that you choose.
AT&T says you can switch without having to sign a new two-year term agreement.
Tiered plans are $30 a month for 3GB or $50 a month for 5GB.