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AT&T On Data Throttling: Blame Yourselves

samzenpus posted more than 2 years ago | from the reap-what-you-sow dept.

AT&T 406

zacharye writes in with a story about Senior EVP of AT&T technology and network operations John Donovan's blog post detailing why customers with unlimited smartphone plans are getting throttled. "In an effort to justify its policies surrounding data service throttling for subscribers with unlimited smartphone data plans, AT&T on Tuesday issued a brief report regarding data usage on its nationwide wireless network. Senior EVP of AT&T technology and network operations John Donovan wrote on a company blog that data traffic on AT&T's network has grown a staggering 20,000% over the past five years. Usage has doubled between 2010 and 2011 according to the executive, due in large part to the proliferation of smartphones. AT&T sold more smartphones in the fourth quarter of 2011 than in any other quarter in its history. And because its smartphone subscribers use so much data, AT&T seems to suggest it has no choice but to put measures such as data throttling in place."

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It's all the customers' fault... (5, Insightful)

Jafafa Hots (580169) | more than 2 years ago | (#39047697)

...for trying to use the product they bought.

AT&T needs to learn from the insurance companies - the REAL profit is in selling a product you never intend to deliver.

Re:It's all the customers' fault... (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39047861)

and airlines... "overbooking," anyone?

Re:It's all the customers' fault... (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39047953)

and airlines... "overbooking," anyone?

Overbooking is awesome. I don't understand what the airlines get out of it, but it just never happens that you get bumped off a flight you MUST be on, because there are always people willing to take the perks of getting bumped. If you don't need to be that on that flight, then you get the perks.

Re:It's all the customers' fault... (4, Informative)

SuricouRaven (1897204) | more than 2 years ago | (#39048039)

It does happen, it just happens exceptionally rarely. The airlines have elaborate models they can use to minimise the chance, but they can't eliminate it entirely.

Re:It's all the customers' fault... (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39048065)

Unfortunately, I've been bumped from flights that I _had_ to be on... 3 times in the last couple of years. Really sucks.

Re:It's all the customers' fault... (2)

ackthpt (218170) | more than 2 years ago | (#39048219)

and airlines... "overbooking," anyone?

Overbooking is awesome. I don't understand what the airlines get out of it, but it just never happens that you get bumped off a flight you MUST be on, because there are always people willing to take the perks of getting bumped. If you don't need to be that on that flight, then you get the perks.

I've been tempted to take the perks of being bumped, but usually I'm in a rotten mood because my flight is being held up while they look for volunteers.

Re:It's all the customers' fault... (1)

Dunbal (464142) | more than 2 years ago | (#39048249)

Pan Am used to regularly upgrade me to first class flying from London to Miami because they overbooked. Sigh, those were the days.

Re:It's all the customers' fault... (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39048201)

I can forgive airlines overbooking, to a degree. Most airlines only overbook a few seats, and it works out fine the majority of the time (I don't have exact numbers, but I'm a very frequent flier and rarely hear about people being bumped) And in the few case when it doesn't work out and too many people show up, the airlines go out of their way to accommodate people. They'll ask for volunteers, provide free upgrades, meal vouchers and anything else.

ATT on the other hand, has overbooked their network by a LARGE margin. They've invited easily double the amount of people they can handle, and all of those people are showing up. And in response to this problem, ATT says "just deal with it," I received no free upgrades, no discount on my bill, nothing to offset the fact that they didn't provide the service I payed for.

Re:It's all the customers' fault... (5, Insightful)

AmigaMMC (1103025) | more than 2 years ago | (#39047919)

Data throttling is happening after 1.5GB to people on an unlimited plan whereas it doesn't happen to people who have 2GB or 3GB plans. That tells me that AT&T is coercing customers with an unlimited plan to drop it and go with a limited plan. It would be just fair for Data Throttling not to occur before 2 or 3GB of usage, to be in par with the other consumers. I think the FCC should step in and stop this abuse of consumer rights.

Re:It's all the customers' fault... (5, Insightful)

BDZ (632292) | more than 2 years ago | (#39048157)

I think the main reason they don't throttle the customers with the limited plans is that they very much wish to see those people go over the limit so they can then charge them for additional usage.

Re:It's all the customers' fault... (5, Insightful)

18_Rabbit (663482) | more than 2 years ago | (#39048029)

Sounds like that's exactly what they were doing. UNLIMITED data plans, shouldn't, you know, have a LIMIT.

Re:It's all the customers' fault... (2)

sjames (1099) | more than 2 years ago | (#39048067)

Apparently they already did. What they need to learn now is how to hire the sort of high quality weasels the insurance companies do. They have some good ones, but the want the ones who can condemn someone to death for a dime.

Re:It's all the customers' fault... (1)

NonUniqueNickname (1459477) | more than 2 years ago | (#39048071)

Not quite as profitable as selling insurance, but AT&T has the second-best thing: SMS. Astronomical margins, barely takes any airtime. If it were up to AT&T they'd probably be happy to get more text-loving customers and ditch all the data-loving customers.

Re:It's all the customers' fault... (4, Informative)

gorzek (647352) | more than 2 years ago | (#39048239)

SMS doesn't technically take any additional airtime at all: the messages are sent via the control channel required to keep your phone "alive" to nearby cells in the first place--the marginal cost of a text message is zero, since the data is going to be used regardless. Charging extra for SMS is nothing but a naked money grab.

Re:It's all the customers' fault... (5, Informative)

MikeFM (12491) | more than 2 years ago | (#39048089)

As somebody that had an unlimited data plan for a couple years.. AT&T already has this down. My unlimited data plan on my iPad, with a solid 3G connection, struggled to pull down data fast enough to pull down a simple web page or email. So when are they going to refund money to people with unlimited plans that didn't get what they paid for?

Re:It's all the customers' fault... (5, Insightful)

ackthpt (218170) | more than 2 years ago | (#39048181)

...for trying to use the product they bought.

AT&T needs to learn from the insurance companies - the REAL profit is in selling a product you never intend to deliver.

I'd mod this to +6 if I could.

AT&T is still running a lot of traffic, last mile/last feet, in copper and doesn't want to go through tens of thousands of neighborhoods and replace copper with glass. They also don't want to upgrade switches. It was such a shock to their crappy infrastructure when the first iPhones saturated their networks in New York City. Excuse me while I mock the blank, stupid looks on their faces, because some engineer, somewhere must have done the math and warned them it was coming. Dur. Got some great publicity out of that gaffe, didn't they?

And so little of that, if any at all, was dependent upon copper.

I sit and read about Euro telecoms running networks up to 100 Mb/s all over the place and see AT&T (among others) looking for ways to throttle the pokey 6 Mb/s I'm getting, or even figuring how to charge me for using it, effectively threatening the Golden Goose of the Internet for any company selling a product requiring high bandwidth, which really is the future growth direction. What do they want, a government subsidy? Of course they do, just like Big Oil, I bet.

Re:It's all the customers' fault... (4, Insightful)

jeffmeden (135043) | more than 2 years ago | (#39048237)

...for trying to use the product they bought.

AT&T needs to learn from the insurance companies - the REAL profit is in selling a product you never intend to deliver.

Really? Sounds like someone is forgetting why insurance (and reinsurance) is one of the biggest industries in the world (and rightly so). Insurance, the kind commonly purchased by an individual (as has been beat to death in many a /. thread) is merely the sale of a share in the risk of an event happening, as a way of mitigating the personal loss by pooling resources of everyone who has exposure to that specific kind of risk. There isn't an insurance company in the world that operates solely by taking in money and never paying it out in the form of claims. Instead, they have a constant churn of subscribers, claims, and modifications to their risk assessments to try to better price the products they sell (risk share is a VERY tangible product.) If anything, the nature of insurance as a product makes the industry very competitive and efficient (health "insurance", which is not really insurance in this definition, notwithstanding) so using them as an example of a marketplace as bent as the wireless one is pretty ignorant.

Throttle sales (5, Insightful)

sunderland56 (621843) | more than 2 years ago | (#39047703)

If their infrastructure wasn't up to it, why didn't they throttle sales of smartphones?

Re:Throttle sales (1)

GodInHell (258915) | more than 2 years ago | (#39047719)

I wonder . . .

Re:Throttle sales (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39047849)

I wonder . . .

I wonder . . .

I've yelled at AT&T for throttling me. I told them it's not my fault you outsold your infrastructure. And that be throttling me, you're limiting the amount of data I can use, and thereby breaking my unlimited data contract.

Re:Throttle sales (2)

CannonballHead (842625) | more than 2 years ago | (#39048035)

... who wrote the book of love?

A follows B (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39047841)

Since they have no choice but to throttle the plan, I have no choice but to switch providers.

I'll start here with this post (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39048033)

Complain.

Complain to the FCC, FTC, BBB, etc ...

Some other places [consumersunion.org]

There used ot be a website called "Hear me now." or something and I can't find it - at least from Google.

Write letters to AT&T.

Make a stink everywhere.

You bitched here on Slashdot? Just do the same thing everywhere else.

Stick to the facts and they won't dare sue. If they did, then every little nitty gritty detail about their business proactices will come to light - especailly to their competitors.

They can't have that.

Re:I'll start here with this post (1)

wiegeabo (2575169) | more than 2 years ago | (#39048135)

I've complained to AT&T. Time to keep that pressure up, I guess. I'm actually going to contact my Representative too. I think a congressional investigation might be in order ;)

Re:Throttle sales (1)

19thNervousBreakdown (768619) | more than 2 years ago | (#39048075)

Oh, don't worry, they are. After all, since my grandfathered unlimited data is now taken away, and my 2-year contract is long expired, I don't have any reason to stay with AT&T anymore aside from their *cough* superior prices, coverage, reliability, and customer service.

Alternatively (5, Insightful)

macemoneta (154740) | more than 2 years ago | (#39047711)

Alternatively, they could not sell a service they can't actually deliver. Crazy, I know.

blame us? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39047713)

for your selling of a product and features that we will use? FU

Re:blame us? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39047985)

Well obviously they never thought people would actually use the darn things.
I mean seriously, who the heck would want features that less than 10 years ago was a sci-fi dream? Nerds, that's who. So it should have been a safe bet to bundle all those nerdy features to jack up the price, because hollywood tells us no normal person could actually want to use those features.

Blame the general populace for actually using the features they're not supposed to want. Idiots always ruin a perfectly good fleecing strategy...

Horseshit (2, Insightful)

redmid17 (1217076) | more than 2 years ago | (#39047715)

Looks like ATT didn't plan or execute their long term strategy well. And they wonder why they weren't allowed to buy T-Mobile

Re:Horseshit (5, Insightful)

ackthpt (218170) | more than 2 years ago | (#39048247)

Looks like ATT didn't plan or execute their long term strategy well. And they wonder why they weren't allowed to buy T-Mobile

They're plans for T-mobile probably included making a lot of money in bonuses and executive backslapping. It had nothing to do with improving service.

I Agree (2, Insightful)

wisnoskij (1206448) | more than 2 years ago | (#39047729)

I agree with him. They only have themselves to blame for picking AT&T in the first place.
If they wanted good honest service then they had every reason to believe that AT&T was the last place they would find it.

It's not unlimited... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39047735)

so selling it as unlimited is fraud.

Re:It's not unlimited... (5, Informative)

SJHillman (1966756) | more than 2 years ago | (#39047979)

Virgin Mobile (my provider) recently announced your speed will be throttled to 350kbps once you've downloaded 2.5GB for that billing month. Once the end of the month comes, or if you pay your next bill early, the cap is lifted. I still consider this to be "Unlimited" because I associate the word with how much you're allowed to download - that is, there's no extra charge for going over the "cap". I like Virgin Mobile, although their coverage could be better - but none of the carriers have good coverage in New York.

Sure, you can argue there's technically a cap because you can only download X gigabytes over the course of Y hours when limited to Z speeds, but this is the case on any sort of infrastructure, including roads and pipelines.

Re:It's not unlimited... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39048271)

I'd love to get 350 kbps at ANY time from AT&T.

So they're blaming the consumer... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39047739)

For purchasing too much of their product? Why are they selling a service they can't provide?

Re:So they're blaming the consumer... (1)

ackthpt (218170) | more than 2 years ago | (#39048275)

For purchasing too much of their product? Why are they selling a service they can't provide?

Is there a law saying you can't do this? I know it doesn't sound right, but is there a law?

You can do anything you like if there isn't a law forbidding it.

Boycott (1)

Wingfat (911988) | more than 2 years ago | (#39047749)

Dont use data! Wifi only people.. if we all do so together for a week, they wil be forced to start charging less for something that costs them less to use in the first place. yes your texts and FB posts all use less data than a simple 2min phone call. so why are you paying for it?

Re:Boycott (1)

firex726 (1188453) | more than 2 years ago | (#39048031)

You're deluding yourself if you think they will lower costs due to people not using the cellular data.

So long as there a cartel which colludes between members to fix prices there will not be any headway in getting a more fair pricing scheme.

Re:Boycott (1)

ScooterComputer (10306) | more than 2 years ago | (#39048043)

This -WOULD- make sense, only AT&T won't let me use an iPhone on their system without a data plan. Further, even when out of contract I should discontinue the data plan, I LOSE the functionality of Visual VoiceMail, an integral feature of my handset.

Instead they should... (5, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39047751)

In one of the rare moments of clarity our federal government has, they told AT&T to spend some of the cash they wanted to use to buy out competition to expand their infrastructure instead (there was a link on slashdot a while ago).

Seems like they do have a choice, but aren't willing to do anything but screw their customers.

What? Spend money? Inconceivable! (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39047757)

Bonus points if the relevant voice from the Princess Bride read the post title to you.

I cannot believe that any sane company would simply ignore that it is falling behind and instead punish its customers for attempting to use its service.

Re:What? Spend money? Inconceivable! (3, Funny)

PerlJedi (2406408) | more than 2 years ago | (#39047831)

I don't think that word means what you think it means. :-)

IPhone (5, Insightful)

the_Bionic_lemming (446569) | more than 2 years ago | (#39047761)

Correct me if I'm wrong, but this is like selling 5,000 tickets to a show that can only host a thousand people, and blaming the people who complain about not getting what the paid for.

Re:IPhone (2)

ynp7 (1786468) | more than 2 years ago | (#39048077)

Sort of, but isn't it really like selling those 5,000 tickets and then kicking everyone out after they've seen 1/5 of the show so that the other customers also get to see an equal portion of the whole thing they paid to see?

Re:IPhone (1)

SuricouRaven (1897204) | more than 2 years ago | (#39048083)

It's called overbooking, and it's actually standard practice for events like shows: You can sell a few more tickets than you have seats, because it's unlikely everyone will turn up. It only goes wrong when the business pushes the sold-to-available ratio dangerously high, which AT&T have done.

Re:IPhone (3, Funny)

future assassin (639396) | more than 2 years ago | (#39048257)

>Correct me if I'm wrong, but this is like selling 5,000 tickets to a show that can only host a thousand people, and blaming the people who complain about not getting what the paid for.

I think this is like selling 5000 tickets to an all you can eat buffet and when you realise all those 5000 people are obese and are about to eat you alive you narrow down the door so only the skinniest people can get it on at a time. Also once in a while you get someone stuck in the door which gives your cook some extra time to cook up new food and get closer to business closing hours. THEN you call all those people fat pigs and blame their weight for you not being able to supply the amount of food that was needed.

Bullshit (5, Insightful)

swv3752 (187722) | more than 2 years ago | (#39047763)

It is called build up your damn infrastructure. Stop taking our money and using it to give the excutives bonuses, and start investing in infrastructure. They get gobs of tax breaks and straight up funding to build infrastructure.

Now they have the gall to complain about folks actually using the unlimited data plan they get sold, because they have not properly built up their infrastructure. Fuck them. Fuck them in the skull.

Re:Bullshit (5, Insightful)

Dhalka226 (559740) | more than 2 years ago | (#39048017)

I agree completely.

I could maybe, maaaaaybe feel sorry for regular ISPs. There's undeniably a lot of piracy that goes on that inflates bandwidth usage beyond their predictions for reasonable.

But that's not a significant issue on phones. Instead the phone companies are complaining about users doing the exact fucking things they market their phones as doing! "Your phone now plays YouTube videos!" "Whoa whoa whoa! Why are you guys watching so many videos on your phone? How could we possibly have predicted such a thing?" "Hey, now you can review that PowerPoint presentation in the cab!" "Whoa whoa whoa, why are you downloading files and shit?!" Well let me think about that for a while guys. Clearly the thought I've given the matter in this post alone exceeds what AT&T and their billions of dollars of profit gave it.

Infrastructure is expensive. We get it. Hey, guess what? So are your phones, the mandatory data plan, smartphone fee and regular service fees over a multi-year contract. Nobody feels sorry for you for overselling your service even more than you calculated you were going to. Shut up and provide customers the service they bought with those billions of dollars of profit you make every quarter, even in one of the worst economies since the Depression. You'll find nobody here shedding a tear for you.

Re:Bullshit (5, Insightful)

unity100 (970058) | more than 2 years ago | (#39048229)

I could maybe, maaaaaybe feel sorry for regular ISPs. There's undeniably a lot of piracy that goes on that inflates bandwidth usage beyond their predictions for reasonable.

no you cant be sorry for them. pirates pay for their bandwidth. period.

no opt-out either (5, Insightful)

fred fleenblat (463628) | more than 2 years ago | (#39047765)

I like the way AT&T mandates that all smart phones on their network have a data plan. God forbid someone have a smart phone, do smart phone stuff over wifi, and just use it as a regular phone the rest of the time not eating into AT&T's precious bandwidth.

Re:no opt-out either (1)

tilante (2547392) | more than 2 years ago | (#39047961)

Actually, you can have a smart phone without a data plan. It's just that the data plan is how they get back the money they subsidized the phone with, so you have to keep a data plan on the phone for a certain amount of time if you got your phone at a discount from them.

Of course, the fact that they can use the data plan to recover the subsidy like that implies that, sans the subsidy recovery portion, the data plan generates large profits for them.

Re:no opt-out either (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39048159)

Sorry, but no. The Data plan is required. When you activate the UN-subsidized smartphone, they will tack on the data plan that you neither requested nor wanted. At no point should you be required to get a service you have no intent on using or want. I completely understand for subsidized phones, but on my phone that I own, no way in hell will you get me to pay it. Unfortunately, there are few companies you can go to with your own smartphone and not be required to get data.

Re:no opt-out either (2)

MikeFM (12491) | more than 2 years ago | (#39048171)

I still have my doubts about the claims that an iPhone costs $600 when a comparable iTouch costs $200.. for a 3G antennae and a better camera? And it seems I've read that the better camera doesn't cost very much more and should just be included in the iTouch too.. so how much does that 3G antennae cost?

Re:no opt-out either (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39048253)

Not true. AT&T requires all smartphones to have a dataplan even if you buy a smartphone full price from Amazon, don't have a contract and just want to use a prepaid plan. I asked about this for their $50 unlimited talk/text plan. They said with a smartphone, I'd have to spend $70 and get the data plan.

No wonder their usage is spiking. I just went with a $35 unlimited text/data plan from another company. Who talks on their cell that much anymore?

Re:no opt-out either (1)

i.r.id10t (595143) | more than 2 years ago | (#39048191)

This. Or better, a pay-as-you-use-it data plan. I'd happily pay $50 for 5gb of data transfer... of course, I've had an iPhone for 8 months now, and I've not used 200mb over 3g...

So.... wait.... what? (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39047767)

Thats like blaming rape victim for not putting out.

And they should invest in some new machinery.

Re:So.... wait.... what? (1)

Reasonable Facsimile (2478544) | more than 2 years ago | (#39047899)

Thats like blaming rape victim for not putting out.

And they should invest in some new machinery.

I was going to post the same thing. "She was dressed slutty!"

1. Sell tons of smart phones.
2. Discover that the infrastructure is overtaxed.
3. Blame the customers.
4. Profit?!?!?!

Wait wait wait.... (2)

cshark (673578) | more than 2 years ago | (#39047773)

If they're selling more smart phones than they ever have... and they're overselling their resources, which they seem to know they're doing... why not just upgrade the network?

Re:Wait wait wait.... (2)

DaMattster (977781) | more than 2 years ago | (#39047867)

If they're selling more smart phones than they ever have... and they're overselling their resources, which they seem to know they're doing... why not just upgrade the network?

It isn't as simple to just upgrade the network. They have only a finite amount of frequency spectrum to squeeze a large number of data hungry devices so it will not necessarily help to just add more towers. Of course, if AT&T is sitting on unused spectrum, they should be upgrading the network.

Re:Wait wait wait.... (1)

Lunix Nutcase (1092239) | more than 2 years ago | (#39048023)

Then maybe stop requiring data plans for all smart phones? Poor AT&T was forced against its well to have to sell all these smart phones then also forced to make their evil customers purchase a data plan. And *gasp* hope dare those asshole users actually use the data plan they were forced to purchase. All this is making the executives at AT&T cry.

Re:Wait wait wait.... (1)

DaMattster (977781) | more than 2 years ago | (#39048235)

Yes, to your point. I make no apologies for AT&T. AT&T is evil and so are the other big 3. At least consumers have a choice to go with an MVNO. I use PagePlus Cellular which uses Verizon Wireless' network and 55.00 per month gets you 1GB of data and no contract.

Re:Wait wait wait.... (2)

Terwin (412356) | more than 2 years ago | (#39048215)

A whole new area of spectrum is only needed if you are broadcasting at powers that blanket the whole countryside.

Cellular towers have a certain pattern of spectrum reuse (I think the standard pattern requires 8 sets of distinct frequencies), so if you need more bandwidth in a certain area, just make the towers closer together(they already do this in cities vs the countryside, you need not even change the operating voltage). As an added benefit, the phones will use less power because the tower will be closer and have a stronger signal.

It may bee 'too expensive' to provide the improved coverage needed to handle the bandwidth requirements, but there is no real technical reason they could not do it with the bandwidth already in use...

wait, Capitalist rationing? (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39047779)

Can't they solve it with a free market solution? Or I us somebody going to blame obstructive government regulations?

Re:wait, Capitalist rationing? (2, Insightful)

Tanktalus (794810) | more than 2 years ago | (#39047977)

I'll do it. If the government weren't so tightly regulating the spectrum making the barrier of entry into the market unbearably high, we'd see more competitors, some of which would understand that "selling the customer what they want" and "following through on contractual commitments" would net them a fair chunk of the customer base. And then AT&T would have to compete for customers instead of dictate to them.

Now, I get that regulation of the airwaves has some benefit. But here is one of the costs.

Lame (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39047781)

Call me crazy but the billions of dollars you were going to spend on the t-mobile acquisition...dump that into improving your infrastructure. The heavy user of today will be the average user tomorrow.

Quite the opposite (1)

Shadowhawk (30195) | more than 2 years ago | (#39047787)

Sounds like AT&T has only itself to blame.

interesting (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39047789)

so you have a product that people want in record nubmers but your response is to punish them; sounds like it's akin to the beatings will continue until morale improves.

I see this man is not an Engineer (3, Interesting)

Necroman (61604) | more than 2 years ago | (#39047813)

Logic does not seem strong with this one.

1) Provide unlimited data
2) Sell people devices to use said data
3) Take away unlimited data because people are using it.

Unlimited data was (I think) introduced with the original iPhone in 2007 (or at least that's when a lot of people got the plan). AT&T then continued to grandfather people with the plan as they renewed their contracts. And now that we've been paying AT&T for 4.5 years of unlimited service, they are taking it away because our devices made it easier to consume the data.

I'm sure by the data usage models AT&T was using 4 years ago, they didn't think people would use all that much data with their phones. But companies like Apple and Google have made cooler services and made it easier to use bandwidth. Now AT&T is calling foul? AT&T should either stop grandfathering the plan forward or leave us alone.

Re:I see this man is not an Engineer (1)

treerex (743007) | more than 2 years ago | (#39048085)

And now that we've been paying AT&T for 4.5 years of unlimited service, they are taking it away because our devices made it easier to consume the data. [...] Now AT&T is calling foul? AT&T should either stop grandfathering the plan forward or leave us alone.

Amen. Are so many people grandfathered into the unlimited plans that they feel the need to throttle us? Really? Piss off.

Re:I see this man is not an Engineer (2)

b0bby (201198) | more than 2 years ago | (#39048161)

3) Take away unlimited data because people are using it.

That's not exactly what throttling is though, is it? You still have data access, but at a lower speed than otherwise. I don't use AT&T, but Virgin is doing this too & I don't really have a problem with it. Admittedly I have the $25 unlimited data & 300 minutes plan grandfathered, and Virgin at least only throttles over 2.5Gb, but I feel like I'm getting my money's worth out of the plan. If I ever hit 2.5Gb, I'll still be able to check email & stuff, just maybe not stream Pandora. I can live with that.
I might be more upset if I were paying AT&T prices...

I call bullshit... (3, Interesting)

bleh-of-the-huns (17740) | more than 2 years ago | (#39047815)

Seriously, they stated the top 5% in congested markets would be throttled, which would be fine, if they utilized the actual top 5%. Not the arbitrary number they pulled out of their ass that stated the top 5% used approx 2G of traffic.

Yet they are selling tiered plans with 3G caps.. If throttling should occur, it should not start until the 3G mark.

I was going to go on a rant, but I have been ranting about this shit for months now every since I found out about the throttling, and ended up being throttled at 2.2G.. in the DC area, I seriously doubt 2.2G is even close to the users in the top 5% for the DC Metro area.

This is strictly a money play, ATT can go fuck themselves for all I care.... The only reason I stay with them.. is because when I am not throttled, I get between 30 and 50mbit rates on the LTE network in DC... Verizon does not even come close, and I hate Verizon more than I hate ATT..

How about... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39047821)

Upgrading your crappy network?

Lovely... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39047833)

So we buy the phones you want us to buy and actually USE them and you want to blame us for that? Talk about insane. The genie's long been out of the bottle, AT&T - get real and build up your infrastructure to handle the massive smartphone use you're going to be seeing more and more of in the next ... well, the next forever.

Call the FCC to complain about AT&T throttling (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39047865)

So what business is AT&T in. If they cannot honour contracts they have with their customers, they should get out of the business. When you try and cancel a contract with them they sure charge a lot of penalties. The FCC needs to look at this. The FCC should tell them to provide the service they committed to or they will lose their cellular and data frequency licenses. That would wake them up. If we all start calling the FCC at the number on their market disputes page maybe they would take notice. http://www.fcc.gov/encyclopedia/market-disputes-resolution-division

So what you're saying is... (1)

Medievalist (16032) | more than 2 years ago | (#39048227)

"All right, this is it! I'll talk to this Humungus! He's a reasonable man open to negotiation."

No other choice? (1)

chrispix (624431) | more than 2 years ago | (#39047873)

Seems that their other choice would be expanding their capacity. I would also wonder if their users are equally distributed across the month. If they have most users billing cycles start at a certain point of the month, I would expect there to be a huge spike in traffic after their throttle was removed. Or maybe they should ask Apple to help expand their network infrastructure..

standard l. car analogy (2)

vlm (69642) | more than 2 years ago | (#39047875)

standard /. car analogy for AT&T mgmt:

1. The new Ford Focus seems to be selling well.
2. I know, lets manufacturer fewer of them!
3. .....
4. Profit!

Truth in advertising (1)

U8MyData (1281010) | more than 2 years ago | (#39047877)

I am so sick of watching commercials, doesn't matter which carrier, of watch this, watch that, surf, surf, surf, unlimited (sort of), etc, etc, etc. Then they turn around and blame the users, their customers? Build a better network and quit bitching. Better yet, stop telling your customers they should really use your network and we are the fastest, the best, more coverage when there are plans to limit use not encourage it. Truth in advertising needs to make a come back and have some bite. Corporatocracy needs to end and consumer rights re-emerge as the standards bearer.

The problem with AT&T's throttling policy (3, Insightful)

StikyPad (445176) | more than 2 years ago | (#39047883)

The problem is not throttling per se, but that the threshold for reaching throttling on an "unlimited" account is *lower* than on a tiered plan (the top 5% is allegedly between 1.6 GB and 1.8 GB), and that using a sliding metric will trend usage downward over the long term. People will be fearful of reaching the throttling threshold, and so they will be unreasonably conservative in their use, which in turn lowers the bar for what constitutes the top 5%. Theoretically, "unlimited" could eventually be even more limited than a 200MB plan.

Obviously the best (and only) way to push back is to use as much data as possible on an unlimited plan, driving the ceiling upwards.

This is what happens when you LIE (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39047891)

IT IS A LIE, PLAIN AND SIMPLE.

"unlimited", "infinite" and the various other terms used to define "limitless" services should be BANNED.
They are an outright lie that has been abused by pretty much every industry.

If I actually get an unlimited package, then damn it, I expect to be able to download the entire internet on it at full bandwidth until completion.
But I don't. I pay for a capacity which I know I stick to, with a backup of an extra 40gigs if I do go over on the months where I am consuming a little more, only for an extra £5.
I pay for electricity I use. I pay for gas I use. I don't pay for others use of the service through some crap flat-rate nonsense. It is a broken model.
AND I AM HAPPY WITH THAT.

I don't like being lied to. I want to know exactly how much I can use of a service. If I don't get that, then they can go the hell away since I don't want to do any business with liars everywhere.
Same goes with the whole "All you can eat" thing. If I can't eat the very store itself, NO DEAL.

It should already be banned under advertising standards to be honest. It still isn't even in the UK, which is annoying since we made such a huge fuss about it with help from The Gadget Show campaign and many others.
Me thinks another campaign is needed. I'm getting sick of seeing this unlimited making a comeback again.

Well (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39047895)

Funny enough, my data usage has plummeted.
I only use it now for email and GPS navigation. If I could, I'd drop to a 50MB plan since I only use about 5-10MB a month.

Even when I did use it a lot, and would use it for everything since I got a free upgrade to 5GB, I would only end up using
1-2GB on months when I did my app updates away from home.

What the hell have you people been doing?

If they throttled your unlimited data contract... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39047903)

AT&T broke your contract.

So... cancel! We have a consumer driven economy. AT&T is too big anyway. Cancel your acount!
Consumer action works. When GoDaddy's CEO sponsored SOPA we dropped GODADDY! Look at the results!

So Cancle your AT&T contract due to the fact that the contract is null and void!

Simple Solution (1)

hammeraxe (1635169) | more than 2 years ago | (#39047927)

Just don't advertise your data plans as "unlimited"

Why even call it unlimited? (1)

nhat11 (1608159) | more than 2 years ago | (#39047931)

When in the end it gets throttled and the extreme end your service gets cut. Poor and misleading choice of marketing words

Sprint.... (3, Informative)

JDAustin (468180) | more than 2 years ago | (#39048003)

And this is one of the reasons why I stay with Sprint. Yea, they have a a more limited coverage and WiMax is slower then LTE but their unlimited data plans are truly unlimited.

How about a " no ads" plan? (1)

Animats (122034) | more than 2 years ago | (#39048007)

A phone plan that filters all ads at the central office end would cut way down on over-the-air bandwidth.

Wow, 20,000% eh? (5, Insightful)

ledow (319597) | more than 2 years ago | (#39048011)

20,000 % is 200 times. That's not a lot when you're considering total data, and not just maximum theoretical speed. For a start, if I use something everyday now that, five years ago, I only used one a month, that's 30 times more data already.

But it would be a lot in speed capability. The mobile I had when I was a kid years ago could only handle GSM data (i.e. 9600 bps at best at the time). If that speed had increased 20,000%, I'd have a 230Gbytes/s phone today.

I'm sorry but it's just poor planning. You know exactly how many customers you have and are likely to have. You know exactly what the theoretical maximum of those phones are. You know exactly what the average person will do (slowly use it more as time passes and upgrades pass by). Yet you still sell an unlimited package.

It's just bad business, but they don't want to admit that, like the small businesses that let Groupon sell 20,000 coupons for a free cupcake, etc. You didn't plan. You didn't extrapolate. You didn't price your products properly. You didn't expand the capability of your network. You didn't do anything that I would expect a large business like AT&T to do.

Ramp your prices up. Then wait for your customers to see all those Japanese telco's that give everyone huge allowances at top data rates for manageable prices on both mobile and fixed-line broadband. I don't care about your bad business planning, all I look for is value-for-money. If you can't provide it, I won't buy from you. If I do buy from you, I expect to get what I bought without any wording-tricks and revisions of the contracts. How hard is this to understand?

Anyone but AT&T (1)

Picass0 (147474) | more than 2 years ago | (#39048015)

I recently changed cell providers to Sprint. My number one criteria when shopping for new cell service was "anybody but AT&T"

OK. Now will all you Rand fanbois (0)

Jawnn (445279) | more than 2 years ago | (#39048063)

...finally STFU about how "evil" regulation is when it comes to telecommunications companies? Your mythical "free market" has failed here. Utterly and completely. If there were a viable alternative, it would be kicking AT&T's ass by now (along with the rest of the telecom giants). Obscene profits and they still won't build out their infrastructure to support what they are selling. The word for that is "racket".

HOLY FUCK !!! (0)

unity100 (970058) | more than 2 years ago | (#39048097)

- Im not getting the service what i have paid for !
- Blame yourselves ........

capitalism ? didnt it have a premise of trade, in which you paid for something, and you got it ? it seems, in capitalism, even the basic premise of capitalism does not work, unless you go socialist and put forth regulations and laws.

But can they decode encrypted traffic? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39048111)

Traffic shaping by ISPs seems to be the norm, but can they do deep packet inspection of encrypted SSL traffic like these programs can:

http://go.mail.ru/search?mailru=1&iewtf=%E2%98%A0&rch=e&q=ssl+packet+sniffer

20,000% (1)

PortHaven (242123) | more than 2 years ago | (#39048133)

That's the mark-up on text messages right?

In other news: (4, Funny)

Amphetam1ne (1042020) | more than 2 years ago | (#39048163)

AT&T buys all you can eat shrimp restaurant. Complains that it attracts too many fat people.

Reminds me of AOL's 'no busy signal' promise (1)

oneiros27 (46144) | more than 2 years ago | (#39048167)

I don't know if it was a local thing, or nation wide, but in the late 1990s, after AOL went to per-month rather than per-minute plans, they got hammered. You'd have to leave the machine re-dialing 'til you finally connected. So they had a 'no busy signal' promise.

Instead, they'd not connect a modem to the last number in the rollover, so it'd just ring and ring and never pick up .... but it wasn't the busy signal.

(disclaimer : in the late 1990s, I worked for a small regional ISP)

So they sold a service (1)

future assassin (639396) | more than 2 years ago | (#39048183)

that they could not deliver on. They sold more smart-phones then their system could handle even with overselling already calculated into the business model.

Unlimited - Last time I checked selling me a product that is unlimited and then reducing my unlimitidness is bait and switch.

Now maybe they're still looking at the Internet salesman book from the late 90's where Unlimited was referred to Unlimited access to the network not unlimited usage of the network.

I don't understand you people (4, Insightful)

rat7307 (218353) | more than 2 years ago | (#39048187)

You DO have unlimited data......

Just not at unlimited speed

Am I missing something here?

Because you know... (1)

JustAnotherIdiot (1980292) | more than 2 years ago | (#39048207)

...instead of giving you a service you paid for, they're just going to say "fuck you". Don't you just love one sided contracts?
Hey AT&T, here's a novel idea, if you're selling all this crap and making all this money, INVEST IN YOUR GOD DAMN INFRASTRUCTURE TO HANDLE THE NEW USERS.

AT&T Take Your Profits & Upgrade Your Equi (2)

ItsPaPPy (1182035) | more than 2 years ago | (#39048221)

Example
2,000,000 million smart phones x $100 monthly payment = $200,000,000
$200,000,000 x 24 month contract = $4,800,000,000

I know AT&T has sold more than 2 million smart phones, so the overall number is a lot larger.

AT&T is saying it is the user's fault for buying a smart phone and is throttling customer's download speed.

AT&T how about you take some of the billions you make in profit and put it towards upgrading your archaic infrastructure?


Facts pulled from ATT.com 2011 4th Quarter Earnings Data
-For the quarter ended December 31, 2011, AT&T's consolidated revenues totaled $32.5 billion
-9.4 million smartphone sales
-Best-ever quarter for Android and Apple smartphones, including 7.6 million iPhone activations
-571,000 branded computing device (tablets, aircards, etc.) sales

About that real estate windfall... (2)

scottbomb (1290580) | more than 2 years ago | (#39048231)

As recently discussed here on /., AT&T is about to cash in big by shedding un-needed real estate.

http://tech.slashdot.org/story/12/02/12/0340214/all-ip-network-produces-100b-real-estate-windfall [slashdot.org]

Perhaps they can use that money to build out their infrastructure. Build it to the point where they can actually deliver on unlimited smartphone data plans and watch the customer count soar as people flee other carriers that can't keep up. Seems like a smart business decision to me.

.... and your solution. Straight Talk. $45 a month (4, Interesting)

i_want_you_to_throw_ (559379) | more than 2 years ago | (#39048243)

I don't know how long this hack will last but here's what I'm doing... I just went to StraightTalk.com, bought a Nokia E-71, activated it. (It's WalMart's $45.00 a month unlimited text, web and phone plan). Pulled the SIM card from the Nokia and put it in the iPhone. Turn on the WiFi connection on your iPhone. Using Safari, go to http://unlockit.co.nz [unlockit.co.nz] . I changed my IMEI to ATT and BAM! Unlimited phone, web and text. I just pay 45.00 a month to WalMart. Just YouTube search for iPhone on Straight Talk. Works with the 4 too.
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