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AT&T institutes caps on hungriest data users

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Reuters

(Read caption) AT&T announced this week that it would throttle the data speeds of unlimited-data customers – once a certain threshold had been hit.

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Earlier this year, AT&T announced it would begin to throttle – or slow – the service of its hungriest data users, once they passed an unspecified limit. The problem: Since the limit was unspecified, users had no way of knowing when their service was about to get throttled. Unsurprisingly, AT&T was pelted with complaints.

This week, the company backpedaled, saying unlimited data subscribers would only experience slowed service if they hit 3GB of usage in a single cycle. "Our unlimited plan customers have told us they want more clarity around how the program works and what they can expect," AT&T said in a statement yesterday, according to Computerworld. "[And] for context, less than 5% of smartphone customers use more than 3GB per month."

As the Associated Press notes, citing a recent Nielsen report, the average smart-phone user chews through 435 megabytes of data each month. You'd have to use seven times that amount to come near the AT&T limit. Not that the whole data limit flap is going to go away anytime soon: Expect carriers such as AT&T to continue to find ways to manage the data speeds of American smart-phone users. 

"[O]n the bright side, we have a major company buckling under pressure from its customers. It’s not often you see a well-established, non-startup company actively respond to requests from its user base," writes Zach Whittaker of ZDNet. "Whether or not you think it’s fair, AT&T has at least – at last – been transparent about its opaque and hazy data caps. It’s far from an 'unlimited' service to what the public would expect, but it’s a lot of space to maneuver." 

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