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After Complaints, AT&T Solidifies, Increases Data Limit

Soulskill posted about 2 years ago | from the nice-try-with-the-math-trick dept.

AT&T 211

New submitter rullywowr writes "After many users expressed anger, AT&T has moved the slowdown throttling bottleneck from 3GB of data to 5GB of data for users of 4G LTE smart phones. 'Previously, AT&T slowed speeds for subscribers who reached the top 5% of data users for that billing cycle and geographic location. Customers were outraged, arguing that the percentage method meant they had no way to know what the limit was — until AT&T informed them via text message that they were in danger of exceeding it.' AT&T still maintains the position that less than 5% of its users exceed the 3GB threshold each month."

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3G users? (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39220271)

What about 3g users?

Re:3G users? (3, Informative)

adamstew (909658) | about 2 years ago | (#39220427)

it's a 3GB limit for 3G users and a 5GB limit for 4G LTE users

Slashdot Presents: The Unholy Shit (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39220283)

The rain was getting harder. It was now precisely 11:51 PM, and Mark was into his fifth beer. He was feeling pretty invincible but the night was young, and he intended to get wasted before it was all over. He had put in a rough week at work and he deserved it.

He lit another cigarette. He and his drinkin' buddies sat in their traditional circle, in Ian's apartment. The talk wandered from sex to work, back to sex, to basketball, finally settling on sex. Mark had eaten lunch at Taco Bell, and had drunk four cups of coffee between lunchtime and quitting. In addition, the beers were beginning to settle in. And now, at 11:51 PM, Mark had to take a shit. He stood up. "Shit break," he announced. It was customary among this group to make such an announcement.

Mark walked to the bathroom. As he locked the door behind him, thunder boomed. It was storming out there.

He pulled his pants down and sat on the toilet. Ian's bathroom was a mess. He counted five empty toilet paper rolls, two paperbacks, and yesterday's newspaper. His friends laughed about something. The lights flickered for a moment, and the pre-shit growl came from within. He could feel the product lined up inside him for disposal. Then, he began to push.

Plop. The first piece fell to the water. Then some movement, and Mark felt the main feature inside him, the mother lode. He grunted softly as he squeezed it out. It crackled past his sphincter, and splashed neatly into the bowl.

Then another one queued up, and came out. It was almost as big as its predecessor. Mark would have well-purged bowels tonight, he realized with a smirk. He heard thunder again, closer this time.

Another one? Jeez, he thought. When was my last shit? It ventured forth, Mark's muscles helping it out. It was the biggest one so far. The shit's passage through his anus, that rarest mix of pain and pleasure, was longer than any he could remember. Ahhhh...the stout log advanced with conviction. This was definitely going to be his finest creation; this was a huge one. Still grinning, he wondered if Ian had a camera.

He pushed. Peering between his legs, past his genitals, he saw that it had reached the water. This was like seeing the longest freight train ever. Damn, it was a wide one. And it was still attached! And there was more! He pushed more, harder. It kept coming. He couldn't even feel the end of this one yet; soon it was bending, folding on itself like a sundae topping. Mark stopped pushing and caught his breath. He was sweating; he realized that however long this piece of shit was, it wasn't nearly all the way out yet. He still couldn't feel the end.

He pushed, he strained, it kept coming. His intestines couldn't be that damn long, but this shit just wouldn't quit. In fact, he was feeling the diarrhoeal urgency of *having* to shit. He dutifully answered nature's call, and pushed harder. His efforts were rewarded with more shit. His sphincter was too strained to even pinch the loaf off. It was whole and complete.

He couldn't feel the end.

Fear now came to Mark. He flushed the toilet to make room for more. Even as the bowl refilled, the cramps rose up, and he pushed. Within seconds, the shit extended from his anus to bottom of the bowl. The harder he pushed, the more he had to shit. And it was getting worse. He scarcely had time to catch his breath; his face was quite red as he grunted and struggled to keep up. The shit seemed endless. He looked between his legs again, and gasped as he saw that the bowl was fully a quarter filled with his product, the water dangerously high. The tank wasn't even done filling, but he flushed again. Unfortunately, the plumbing was unable to handle the volume of feces, and the toilet backed up. Mark jumped when the cold water touched his buttocks.

It was now 11:57. Thunder roared outside as water and shit particles flowed onto the tile.

Mark's pants were bunched about his ankles, and he was in pain. The shit advanced relentlessly as he stumbled into the bathtub. He was almost panicking now, and didn't notice the trail of solid feces he had left. Gripping the tub for support, he squatted and kept pushing.
The conversation in the front room had stopped. Eddie smelled it first, and blamed a fart on Ian, but this was no fart. This was pure and concentrated; this was the smell that only the freshest shit can make. The four looked at each other, puzzled. Then they heard Mark's groaning from the bathroom.

"Mark, are you beating off again?" Doug asked. No answer.

The smell was worse. Brian sniffed deeply and gagged. "Jesus H. ...". Ian grimaced. "Goddamn...". They all went for the bathroom door at the same time. Ian jiggled the locked doorknob. Brian pounded on the door. "Dude, what the FUCK did you eat today?" No answer. Mark groaned. "You all right in there, Mark?"

They looked at each other again. Eddie sniffed and winced. There was no answer from inside. Brian knocked again. "Hey man, you OK?" No answer. A short scream came from within the bathroom.

Brian kicked the door open. Nobody spoke.

The odor was intense, feces was piled on the floor and in the bathtub. Mark was squatting next to the wall, his face impossibly red, his eyes helpless and terrified. Firm stool thrust forward from his anus like meat from a grinder. It landed in his pants bunched about his ankles, spilling over and piling up. He gritted his teeth and strained; all he could do was keep pushing. There was a sound like a ripping sheet and Mark's colon came loose from his now shapeless sphincter, oozing to the floor. His friends watched as the slimy organ descended, with shit still flowing from it. Mark screamed again, and somebody's watch beeped.

Brian got the worst of it, since he was closest to the door. He would later tell the police that he thought he had seen Mark's abdomen expand for an instant before it happened. None of the others had reported this. But they had all described the sound as a "dull thud", they had all been splattered with innards and feces as Mark's torso separated from the rest of his body.

"Massive gastrointestinal rupture/trauma secondary to indeterminate blockage" was noted in the medical examiner's report. An "unusually large amount of fecal matter" is also recorded, though the amount was not measured.

The funeral was closed-casket. Brian and Eddie seem to have recovered pretty well, though they never talk about Mark. Doug moved away, and nobody has heard from him lately. Sometimes, when he has to shit, Ian waits until the rain stops.

"Unlimited data" (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39220297)

So "unlimited data" means 3GB/5GB now?

Re:"Unlimited data" (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39220489)

here's hoping it's some time before this new definition of 'unlimited' trickles down to wireline providers.......

Re:"Unlimited data" (1, Informative)

Moryath (553296) | about 2 years ago | (#39220567)

Too late.

AT&T and Comcrap are both "you get a warning and throttled if you exceed 250GB" shops now. Meanwhile, applications use more all the time. HD video from Hulu+ or Netflix or Amazon streaming? Whoops! Telecommute? Oh dear. Set up a backup pairing with your family or friends, over Crashplan [] ? Oh my.

Re:"Unlimited data" (1)

tommy8 (2434564) | about 2 years ago | (#39220783)

250GB a month is a lot. I have never gone over.

Re:"Unlimited data" (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39220869)

And you probably don't do anything intensive.

Me? I work from home frequently. I pay for a higher end connection from Comcast, which gets me "better speeds" but no difference in the caps. Try transferring a dozen high-detailed Photoshop and Illustrator projects for poster design and see how much bandwidth you eat up, it goes FAST. And that's before we get to my wife's Netflix streaming, the kids' World of Warcraft accounts, and general usage for always-on items like IM programs and email and cellphones that hook in to the house wireless connection.

Oh, and we use Vonage. So our data usage includes phone there as well. Plus Skype for the kids to video chat with their grandparents.

If you say "250GB is not a lot", you aren't paying attention.

Re:"Unlimited data" (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39221093)

Try transferring a dozen high-detailed Photoshop and Illustrator projects for poster design and see how much bandwidth you eat up, it goes FAST. And that's before we get to my wife's Netflix streaming, the kids' World of Warcraft accounts, and general usage for always-on items like IM programs and email and cellphones that hook in to the house wireless connection.

Oh, and we use Vonage.

Even if you have 1GB Photoshop & Illustrator files that's... 12GB. IM & Email are negligible, dial-up could handle that. Phones are a bit, and video streaming uses a lot, but still you have to work to get to 250GB. How many Blu-Ray rips are you torrenting, anyway? That's the way to chew through bandwidth...

Re:"Unlimited data" (1)

Reverand Dave (1959652) | about 2 years ago | (#39221215)

I agree. I have easily used 500gb in a span of a few weeks. The local provider changed the plans here to a 50mb connection with a 50gb data cap and then they claim that should be plenty. I will keep my 10mb connection with unlimited data until they pry it from my cold dead fingers. Throttling/limiting data usage seems to me like selling you a "limited hour" internet plan. As an aside from that, it will start becoming an issue similar to the digital divide. The people with access to more information and larger data plans will be better off socially and economically than those that have severely limited access to data.

Re:"Unlimited data" (1)

TheRealMindChild (743925) | about 2 years ago | (#39221031)

We watch Netflix/Hulu in 4 different rooms in the house (no cable/satellite tv). Throw that on top of having a VPN connection to the office to do work, I can easily break that. What I am doing may appear "excessive", but more and more people will be doing the same things in the future.

Re:"Unlimited data" (4, Insightful)

the_fat_kid (1094399) | about 2 years ago | (#39220961)

here is to hoping that they "do not change the terms of our deal again"
well, you deal with the sith and you get what you expect.

Re:"Unlimited data" (1)

jhoegl (638955) | about 2 years ago | (#39220497)

And 5% means "we own the data and 5% is what we say it is".

Re:"Unlimited data" (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39220509)

Didn't someone just recently kick ATT's ass in small claims court over this for $800?

Re:"Unlimited data" (4, Interesting)

tripleevenfall (1990004) | about 2 years ago | (#39220523)

It's still unlimited. They should have to advertise this truthfully, though.

"Unlimited data, with 3G speed for the first 3GB."

"Our unlimited data plans feature 4G speed for the first 5GB you use each month!"

Re:"Unlimited data" (2, Informative)

MacGyver2210 (1053110) | about 2 years ago | (#39220703)

You can't say "Unlimited up until _____" ...

The "Up until ______" part is known as a LIMIT which makes it.... NOT UNLIMITED.

Re:"Unlimited data" (2)

Stalks (802193) | about 2 years ago | (#39220983)

Speed != Usage

Re:"Unlimited data" (1)

TheRealMindChild (743925) | about 2 years ago | (#39221065)

Ok, so you point out that they may be using the ambiguity of WHICH [speed/bandwidth] is unlimited, however, as you imply it means "speed", speed isn't unlimited either. You are LIMITed by the technology of the wireless network.

Re:"Unlimited data" (1)

tripleevenfall (1990004) | about 2 years ago | (#39221205)

There is no TRULY unlimited data. The real-world data limit is always going to be your average connection speed in bits per second times the number of seconds in a month. Even with a "truly unlimited" plan you can't possibly download more than this.

That fact is not changing. What's changing is the throttling. We can't honestly say they have taken away "unlimted data" because it's still unlimited in all the senses it was for people who are grandfathered in.

If we want to be critical of AT&T, and they richly deserve it, we need to attack them for throttling, which they cannot deny, and not for revoking "unlimited" which they can truthfully deny.

Re:"Unlimited data" (1)

Bodero (136806) | about 2 years ago | (#39220719)

They aren't advertising this at all, unfortunately. This only affects grandfathered-in contracts.

Re:"Unlimited data" (2, Interesting)

msauve (701917) | about 2 years ago | (#39220651)

So "unlimited data" means 3GB/5GB now?

No. It means your bandwidth is reduced when you hit those thresholds, you continue to be able to exchange data beyond the 3GB/5GB, just more slowly. They're not cutting anyone off, they're throttling to prevent average users from being negatively impacted by the highest percentile users. Wireless bandwidth is limited and shared, and this is just a way of ensuring the heaviest users don't hog it all.

Think of it as the successful result of an "Occupy AT&T," where the little people won out over the "5%ers."

I've never heard anyone imply that advertising "unlimited data" on, say, a 1 Mbps line was fraud because there was actually a limit of 1 Mbps x 2629743 seconds per month / 8 bits per byte ~= 329 GB/month.

Re:"Unlimited data" (4, Insightful)

icebraining (1313345) | about 2 years ago | (#39221151)

Then all plans are and always have been unlimited, they just reduce your bandwidth to zero! (Or to 1kbps).

Calling that unlimited makes it lose all meaning.

Re:"Unlimited data" (1, Insightful)

msauve (701917) | about 2 years ago | (#39221225)

"Unlimited," as they use the term, means "flat rate," as opposed to the limit on a tiered plan, where you are charged more when you exceed that limit.

Anyone who thinks "unlimited" means "infinite," for timed (monthly) service on a network with bandwidth obviously subject to technology limits, is either being disingenuous or ignorant.

Bandwidth Calculations (4, Interesting)

AnotherAnonymousUser (972204) | about 2 years ago | (#39220299)

Anyone in the industry or in the know want to take a stab at where the numbers come from? It seems that 5GB is a common enough number for phone carriers. Is that just a metric that was settled upon, is it arbitrarily set, or are they crunching numbers and coming out with 3GB/5GB as a theoretical "optimal" limit for a network? Feedback welcome from people who know how/why such decisions are made!

Re:Bandwidth Calculations (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39220343)

Market Segmentation, you know there is a percent of people that will pay a plus to break the limit and wont mind to pay, so you wont mind to charge.

Re:Bandwidth Calculations (4, Insightful)

Sponge Bath (413667) | about 2 years ago | (#39220353)

I'm not in the industry, but I don't doubt that they crunched numbers... not network capacity, but how little can you give a consumer and how much can you charge before they leave.

Re:Bandwidth Calculations (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39220451)

I'm not in the industry, but I don't doubt that they crunched numbers... not network capacity, but how little can you give a consumer and how much can you charge before they leave.

That's so twelve seconds ag... fuck, I hit my limit...

Re:Bandwidth Calculations (1)

Technician (215283) | about 2 years ago | (#39220887)

" AT&T still maintains the position that less than 5% of its users exceed the 3GB threshold each month."

This metric is not of just iPhone users. I have a phone I use as just a phone. No text, no data, just voice. I don't text on the phone. I'm older and hand held phones don't come in the large print edition. I use a Netbook for IM. It provides a full keyboard and usable screen.

Re:Bandwidth Calculations (3, Insightful)

wbr1 (2538558) | about 2 years ago | (#39220455)

Some execs sat in a board room and said where can we place the cap to get more revenue and not piss too many customers off. That is all.

Re:Bandwidth Calculations (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39220627)

Simple - they know how much people use in a month. They simply rank all the data plans and draw an arbitrary line at the 95th percentile. That means 95% of their customers will never be throttled, and a reasonable portion of that 5% is likely to only hit their limit near the very end of the month, and may not even notice.

Understand, though, that usage is affected by the caps they place and the speed available, so it's not a "pure" demand number. My wife and I are both on the 200MB plan, because I'm a cheap bastard and I rarely stream anything on cell data. I intentionally don't stream partially BECAUSE I'm on that plan, though. With all my other usage (FB, email, calendaring, internet searching, occasional mapping) I rarely break 75MB/mo, and my wife rarely breaks 100MB. I'll bet my father in law never breaks 10MB. We keep the numbers down, which makes the people who stream content look like hogs.

Re:Bandwidth Calculations (5, Insightful)

AddictedToCaffine (713582) | about 2 years ago | (#39220881)

They're not "hogs" if they paid for "unlimited".

Re:Bandwidth Calculations (1)

msauve (701917) | about 2 years ago | (#39221069)

They are if their traffic impacts other paying users. They're paying for volume, not bandwidth. And, unlike hardwired connections, the carrier can't simply put in bigger pipes when the available bandwidth is exceeded.

Re:Bandwidth Calculations (1)

mrzaph0d (25646) | about 2 years ago | (#39220647)

market research, probably a lot of phone/web surveys and/or focus groups where people are asked the same basic question with slightly different options: would you pay $x for xGB of data? what about $x for yGB? what about $y for xGB?

Re:Bandwidth Calculations (4, Insightful)

hawguy (1600213) | about 2 years ago | (#39220835)

The smart thing about their 95% percentile calculation is that the bar keeps getting lower.

If the 95% mark is at 5GB today and they throttle back anyone that exceeds 5GB, no one will be able to go beyond 5GB of usage, so next month the 95% level might be 4.9GB. Then since no one can go much beyond 4.9GB, the next month it becomes 4.8GB. And so on.

Until finally, they are throttling once you hit 100KB of bandwidth and they can advertise the world's fastest wireless network since no one can use it. You can get one hit to to test your bandwidth and see your blazing 25mbit of bandwidth before they throttle you to 144kb of bandwidth.

Sounds like a good strategy.

Re:Bandwidth Calculations (1)

A Commentor (459578) | about 2 years ago | (#39220849)

Previously, AT&T slowed speeds for subscribers who reached the top 5% of data users for that billing cycle and geographic location. Customers were outraged, arguing that the percentage method meant they had no way to know what the limit was — until AT&T informed them via text message that they were in danger of exceeding it.' AT&T still maintains the position that less than 5% of its users exceed the 3GB threshold each month.

So if they limit the top 5% of data users for that billing cycle/location, but less than 5% exceed 3GB, then the point where they limit users has to be less than 3GB in most locations.

And how is it done for "that billing cycle". After the first day (hour, etc.) of the billing cycle, did they throttle the top 5%? Once you were throttle, did you stay throttled until the end, even if you were no longer in the top 5%?

I can't imagine anyone thought top 5% would be a good idea. I'm wondering if they did that to get everyone really upset about it, then fall back to this more "reasonable" solution, to look good. Instead of starting with the 5GB limit, and having a lot of people complain about it.

Re:Bandwidth Calculations (1)

msauve (701917) | about 2 years ago | (#39220911)

I'm sure the carriers have very good data on the average number of users per cell site/sector. They know how much traffic each of them uses, on average. They know the capacity of their cell sites. They have metrics on usage patterns (TOD, DOW, etc.).

Seems pretty straight forward to take that data, crunch it, and come up with a number which ensures the available bandwidth is shared between all users, on a reasonably equitable basis.

A cell site has a fixed available bandwidth (for a given technology), once the investment has been made, it costs the carrier the same whether it's running at 5% or 95% of capacity. To avoid pissing off the majority of their customers, they need a method to make that bandwidth available equitably. For those with "unlimited" contracts, this cap/throttle method seems reasonable. Tiered pricing is another method of constraining heavy users, and may actually be more fair, but has the appearance of "profiteering," since their Cost Of Service is basically fixed. It's a balancing act for them.

It still accomplishes their goal (4, Insightful)

nweaver (113078) | about 2 years ago | (#39220307)

For 3G (read, ALL iPhones) its still 3GB.

So for iPhone customers on the old unlimited plan, they still have a choice:

For the same amount of money, either stick with the "Unlimited" plan which goes useless at 3GB, or go to a metered plan where you get 3GB and above that its $10/GB in overages...

As for the 4G/LTE phones, those are in a much smaller minority, as the big grandfathered ones that AT&T dislikes are the iPhones.

Re:It still accomplishes their goal (5, Interesting)

Eponymous Coward (6097) | about 2 years ago | (#39220831)

Their goal is much more devious.

They are going to keep the data caps as low as they possibly can. I'm convinced that throttling the heaviest users is just a way to reinforce this idea that using the network costs money. The truth is, the only problem on the network is peak time congestion and throttling the heaviest users has the same effect as throttling any user during peak time.

So, AT&T gets people used to the idea that data caps are normal and necessary. Step two is about approaching companies like Pandora, Netflix, and Google and make them this offer: if you pay us a lot of money, data transferred from your service won't count in the data cap calculation. They want to be paid two times for a single user's network usage. It's so obvious to me that this is what they are working on and it's disgusting.

Re:It still accomplishes their goal (1)

w_dragon (1802458) | about 2 years ago | (#39221161)

Using their network doesn't cost them money. As soon as you want the internet, on the other hand, there is a cost that would vary depending on their peering agreements.

Still not unlimited (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39220317)

I've avoided AT&T and Verizon for this reason. I should be able to use my phone all I want.

Sprint is definitely in a winning position.

Re:Still not unlimited (1)

MacGyver2210 (1053110) | about 2 years ago | (#39220753)

I have had Verizon 3G for nearly two years, and have 'abused' my bandwidth since day one.

I routinely download 8-10GB per day via tether, and Verizon has yet to even glare at me, much less charge overages, or throttle or cancel my service. THAT is true unlimited service.

Either the top-5% of bandwidth users are really using their phones HEAVILY, or Verizon just doesn't care.

As a spoiled sprint user (2)

P-niiice (1703362) | about 2 years ago | (#39220333)

The limits are too low. You can blow half of that limit away on one game download if you're not careful.

Are handheld games that big? (1)

tepples (727027) | about 2 years ago | (#39220461)

Are downloadable handheld games that big yet, or just console and PC games? If you want to download a big console or PC game, take your console or PC to a coffee shop and use Wi-Fi. That's the same workaround people tended to repeat when fielding complaints about how the 4 GB download size of Mac OS X 10.7 (Lion) would eat up nearly all of a satellite Internet user's monthly cap.

Re:Are handheld games that big? (1)

MacGyver2210 (1053110) | about 2 years ago | (#39220791)

Why would it matter where you connect to the Internet from - whether your phone or a Coffee Shop WiFi point?

It all goes to the same internet, and Verizon/AT&T/T-Mobile/Sprint don't pay any more per ___ of bandwidth than the coffee shop - if not less because they are the carrier themselves.

It's just a scam. Use your phone however you can get away with it.

You are paying for the last mile (4, Informative)

tepples (727027) | about 2 years ago | (#39221021)

Why would it matter where you connect to the Internet from - whether your phone or a Coffee Shop WiFi point?

Because it costs more to send bits over cellular last mile than over Wi-Fi to a wired last mile.

It all goes to the same internet

Over different last miles. Different last miles have different costs per bit. That's why Comcast can afford to charge the same for 250 GB that a cellular carrier charges for 5 GB.

Re:As a spoiled sprint user (1)

rabbit994 (686936) | about 2 years ago | (#39220531)

WTF are you downloading that is huge? Biggest game on my iPad is 150MB. My iPhone is about 70MB.

Re:As a spoiled sprint user (1)

Yvan256 (722131) | about 2 years ago | (#39220691)

My iPhone is about 70MB.

Really? I thought the iPhone was 4.54 x 2.309 x 0.37 inches.

They listen ? (2)

fluffythedestroyer (2586259) | about 2 years ago | (#39220335)

I really surprised that AT&T listened to its 5% users that complained regarding that situation. Most companies like these have a higher threshold and, I'm sorry but, they don't really give a crap about them too until the complaints gets to a certain level. In the end, I'm happy that they finally listened but something tells me it's not free and/or not without any concequences...I hope I'm wrong on this one.

Re: They listen ? (1)

ceoyoyo (59147) | about 2 years ago | (#39220485)

The lawsuits might have helped.

Re: They listen ? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39220671)

Oh boy. They sure did listen. Now their 4G users with the potential of 50x-100x the download speeds of 3G users got their data cap lifted by a whole 1.66x. Boy howdy, that sounds like they listened right there. Whee ha. Excuse me while I run out dancing in the streets. AT&T are a good and just company. Let us sing their praises from the rooftops, but not on their phone network, as I might go over their Mother Theresa-like levels of generosity and compassion in their data caps.

GREAT! Thanks, AT&T. (1)

HappyNSX (2529118) | about 2 years ago | (#39220361)

I will stick with Sprint for now.

AT&T Lies. (4, Insightful)

geekmux (1040042) | about 2 years ago | (#39220365)

"...AT&T still maintains the position that less than 5% of its users exceed the 3GB threshold each month."

Really? Seems to me AT&T is causing an awful lot of pain and bad publicity for themselves by creating such limitations around what supposedly accounts for only 5% of their consumer base. Seems like the effort would be worth a hell of a lot more than 5% of revenue.

Re:AT&T Lies. (4, Funny)

MacGyver2210 (1053110) | about 2 years ago | (#39220885)

"Here at AT&T we have a long, rich history of screwing our customers. From the original days of our telephone monopoly, to our sub-standard yet overpriced DSL service and its associated lawsuits, we strive to charge you at least 10 times the value of the service you receive. This is our promise to you.

It has come to our attention that a tiny fraction of our cellular data customers are using more than the rest, even though they are within the data amount we promised upon signing their contract. We simply cannot allow even the smallest portion of our clients to actually receive what they pay for, or have service at the level they expect. This would set a terribly hard-to-follow precedent of giving customers what they want and what they pay for. We simply cannot handle that.

On this note, we have today decided to return to bill-per-hour internet access. Based on the 1997 AOL dial-up rate, we are now charging $3.67 per hour* for your cellular data bandwidth. We still consider this to be 'unlimited' as you are able to use as much data as you are willing to pay for. We thank your for your continued subservience, and your willingness to put up with us constantly screwing you. We truly believe you don't have any choice in carriers, so your resistance is futile."

*Any time over one second is billed as a full hour. No prorating or refunds allowed. An additional 30 pages of terms and conditions that none of you will read also apply.

Why is there throttling in the first place? (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39220383)

AT&T promises users a service (unlimited data access) they have no intention of providing. That's false advertising.

Re:Why is there throttling in the first place? (1, Insightful)

228e2 (934443) | about 2 years ago | (#39220453)

Its still unlimited, just slowed down.

Re:Why is there throttling in the first place? (1)

Desler (1608317) | about 2 years ago | (#39220529)

You do have unlimited data as your connection is not shut off. They just don't guarantee an unlimited connection at the highest speed and they are quite upfront about it. Yes, the limit is low and it's shit but this argument of "but it says unlimited!" as if somehow AT&T is lying to you about the terms is just nonsense.

Re:Why is there throttling in the first place? (1)

Yvan256 (722131) | about 2 years ago | (#39220723)

What would you do if I sold "unlimited monthly data" internet access at 300bps?

Yes the data is unlimited, but 300bps is so slow that it's basically useless in 2012.

Currently AT&T doesn't seem to specify the speed of the connection once you go over your 3GB/5GB/whatever. It should be a percentage of the maximum speed, written in the contract.

Re:Why is there throttling in the first place? (1)

Seraphim1982 (813899) | about 2 years ago | (#39221017)

What would you do if I sold "unlimited monthly data" internet access at 300bps?

Not buy it?

Blazing fast LTE speeds (1)

Imagix (695350) | about 2 years ago | (#39220389)

Tried to find where AT&T actually says what speed their LTE is (their website only says "4x faster than our existing!"). So let's assume the slowest LTE speed, 100 MBit. 5 GB is roughly 50 GBit or 50000 MBit, the slowest LTE is 100 MBit ( 50000 / 100 = 50. So you can go at the really fast LTE speed for 1 minute total in a month before being throttled. Oh boy.

Re:Blazing fast LTE speeds (1)

CProgrammer98 (240351) | about 2 years ago | (#39220445)

50000 / 100 = 50.

I guess you failed math? You're an order of magnitude off.

Re:Blazing fast LTE speeds (1)

Imagix (695350) | about 2 years ago | (#39220803)

Augh! These failing eyes! Yep, 50,000 / 100 = 500. You get up to a little under 8 and a half minutes of speed.

Re:Blazing fast LTE speeds (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39220487)

I've got bad news for you - nobody's LTE speeds are 100 MBit. That's the techincal (IEEE?) definition of 4G, however the carriers have co-oped 4G to mean "faster than 3G", or anywhere from 2Mb-6.5Mb (source: So, yes, you could blow through your cap quickly - in as little as 2.5 hours of streaming at maximum current LTE speed - but not quite as fast as you think.

Re:Blazing fast LTE speeds (1)

Ferzerp (83619) | about 2 years ago | (#39221113)

Every time I've used an LTE USB modem, the typical speeds I got were heavily dependent upon the city I was in, of course.

Chicago, it was common to seed speeds of 20Mbit down/10Mbit up. San Antonio was closer to 10/2, etc. Phones, are much different due to being much more constrainted on power, of course.

Re:Blazing fast LTE speeds (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39220517)

3GB = 24000Mb

Per your LTE Slowest Speed rate, which is 100Mbit, that would mean you have 240 seconds worth of data, which is 4 minutes at full 100Mbps. However, I doubt you'd find many servers that can handle that speed and I also doubt you'd get that actual speed to the tower. But yes, either way, 3GB is ridiculous. Your numbers just make it look worse than it is, to be fair.

Re:Blazing fast LTE speeds (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39220677)

Replying to my AC self here..

Taking the numbers further, lets assume you have a Pandora subscription and you use your data to stream music (like I do). Pandora streams at 192kbps when you sign up and pay for a premium account, between 64 and 128k as far as I can tell, if you don't.

Best case, you use ZERO data for anything but Pandora (3GB/mo):

64kbps = 3.43 hrs/day max

128Kbps = 1.72 hrs/day max

192kbps = 1.15 hrs/day max

Pathetic.. I'd blow through that so fast since I listen to it at work and on the road.

buy a smartphone they said (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39220391)

buy a smartphone they said
watch tv, movies, videos they said

you can't use that bandwidth we advertised and sold you they say

Where's the FCC investigation? (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39220399)

These companies should lose all their spectrum for even thinking about throttling connections.

FCC start the investigation. They advertise unlimited (they did, even if they don't now) - throttling is just another way to *restrict* data - it breaks unlimited.

I for one would love to see AT&T and Verizon lose all of it's cellular spectrum because of these greedy shenanigans.

Cost for unlimited/unlimited/unlimited should be about $20.00 a phone per month. That covers any and all uses of bandwidth in use today and yet to be conceived of.

NIMBYs who don't want a tower on their skyline (1)

tepples (727027) | about 2 years ago | (#39220499)

They advertise unlimited (they did, even if they don't now)

You just hit it: they don't advertise the service anymore. Therefore, they don't have to continue to offer it on contract renewals.

Cost for unlimited/unlimited/unlimited should be about $20.00 a phone per month.

That doesn't sound like enough money to buy land for more towers and deal with NIMBYs who don't want a tower on their skyline. Each cell tower can handle only a given throughput to all radios associated to it.

Re:NIMBYs who don't want a tower on their skyline (2)

Eponymous Coward (6097) | about 2 years ago | (#39220873)

An antenna doesn't have to be on a tower. If the phone companies were really motivated to solve this problem, they could.

Need competition and regulation. (4, Informative)

JustAnotherIdiot (1980292) | about 2 years ago | (#39220441)

Leave the market alone, it'll be just fine they said.
Bullshit, we're getting robbed blind by these people, costs should be nowhere near this high.
If they took one day of bonus away from the CEO, they'd probably be able to upgrade their infrastructure enough to handle all of the current users without breaking a sweat.
Oh, but no, CEO man has to have his 7 yachts and 5 mansions. We would be terrorists if we wanted him to go without just one yacht.

Re:Need competition and regulation. (1, Interesting)

s122604 (1018036) | about 2 years ago | (#39220503)

Not an idiot, just a little idealistic
These companies aren't providing you this service out of the kindness of their hearts

What I wish

a fairly priced ala carte service
you use more, you pay more, use less, pay less
but they'll never do it, they like overcharging bandwidth misers more than they hate undercharging bandwidth hogs, see kindness of their hearts comment above.

Re:Need competition and regulation. (2)

sohmc (595388) | about 2 years ago | (#39220705)

There are a number of these:, speakout, and a couple of others. A large majority of these are based on the Sprint network.

I guess Sprint is bleeding customers so bad that they have begun leasing their bandwidth to other companies to resell.

Re:Need competition and regulation. (1)

JustAnotherIdiot (1980292) | about 2 years ago | (#39220785)

I guess Sprint is bleeding customers so bad that they have begun leasing their bandwidth to other companies to resell.

There are several small companies that do that in my area under AT&T.
It's the only thing worse than being an AT&T customer, because, as you could guess, it doesn't work well if you actually use the service.

Re:Need competition and regulation. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39220629)

How many Telcos in the USA provide 3g / 4g services?

So decide to pissoff 5% of your customers (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39220459)

That is what it means if they decide that only 5% of the people go over 3GB a month and they throttle those users.
Piss Off only 5%. Great plan. Piss Off the 5% that use your services the most.

A rate cap IS a download cap (1)

clyde_cadiddlehopper (1052112) | about 2 years ago | (#39220473)

1) Given that there are only so many seconds in a month, a rate cap automatically limits a plan that was sold as "unlimited". You cannot download more than 9GB/month at 14.4kbps. 2) Every time I see the AT&T ads with people exclaiming "that was so 29 seconds ago" I chuckle. They are selling performance as the primary feature of their service, then hobbling that performance when customers make use of it. 3) AT&T is framing this as a tragedy of the commons problem: unilimited access to a finite common good leads to a collapse. (Grazing sheep on public property, fisheries, etc.) Is this really a finite good of just a failure to invest in capacity?

Finite good times finite good (1)

tepples (727027) | about 2 years ago | (#39220527)

Is this really a finite good of just a failure to invest in capacity?

Capacity is proportional to spectrum times number of towers. Spectrum is a finite good. Land on which to build towers is also a finite good.

Re:A rate cap IS a download cap (1)

The_K4 (627653) | about 2 years ago | (#39221155)

Well the main point of the AT&T and T-mobile deal was for AT&T to get more spectrum. They have said pretty publicly that the current rate increases and enforcement of data caps are due to that deal failing and them not getting the spectrum they wanted/needed. I have AT&T and I get those txt messages warning me of my usage about every other month or so, so don't take this to mean I agree with them, but at the same time....what did you expect to happen when the merger got killed?

iTunes Match to blame? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39220525)

I can forsee with iTunes Match this limit being breached more frequently, which could be AT&T's nefarious motive.

No more streaming pandora or groovehshark. then I (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39220539)

will dunp my phone. The $65.00/month pays for my 2 weeks of gasoline for me. I'd rather have a quite ride and no distractions. Why do I need to take a call that to remind me to pick up milk on the way home, or that my brother would like a ride home, when you get home can you look at this for me? Or you do you want to go to a movie tonight ? I drive a Jeep Wrangler so I need two hands to drive. If someone wants to reach me bad enough they can leave a message on the home phone. If work wants to reach me they can supply me with a phone w/data I have a smartphone for streaming audio and gps anyway. Well if AT&T wants to limit like this then I don't need it. I can find better use for my $65.00 I'll sell my iPhone 4s on ebay. I urge everyone to do the same. The cellular providers bled us enough already. Supply and demand drives price right ? So dump your phones! Tell them that when they throttled you down they broke your unlimited contract. I can live without a cell phone. It's two weeks of commuting fuel for me. Ahah!

The real issue.. (2)

jakegmerek (2579439) | about 2 years ago | (#39220543)

I have no issue with throttling heavy users to increase the customer experience for all. My issue is that this plan will not really solve that issue. If I am on a little used tower at 3AM it costs ATT nothing extra if use 1GB, 100GB, or 1000GB, neither does it hurt anyone else. However on a crowded tower it makes sense to throttle heavy users so that the other users on the tower will be able to have a better experience.
What they should do, to be open and fair, is throttle heavy users on congested towers and then restore their speeds to normal when there is no more congestion. Annoying, possibly, but at least reasonable and purpose driven to the stated purpose. In this light the proposal that they have outlined is simply designed to make the unlimited plan so unpalatable that the users will switch to the tiered plans that have the possibility of garnering more income for ATT. If they truly want to do that, that would be fine, but do it openly, maybe by saying that the next time these subscribers contracts expire, they will have to switch to the tiered pricing or something similar. At least then they would be honest in their approach.

I thought this was about network congestion (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39220551)

That was the original story they gave us, IIRC. They would selectively throttle anyone, anywhere, when their area couldn't support all of the data traffic. Now that looks not to be the case at all, and they won't throttle in that specific area but will do it to anyone, anywhere, as soon as they hit a fairly common (5% of all their subscribers is a LOT of people!) but arbitrary "ceiling". So how does throttling someone in NYC help network congestion in LA?

AT&T learns from... (1)

Mashiki (184564) | about 2 years ago | (#39220587)

Bell Canada? I'm pretty sure that Bell Canada said 90% of their subscribers use less than 15GB a month, right up until they were required to prove it before the CRTC.

Calm Down... A LITTLE (5, Interesting)

CMYKjunkie (1594319) | about 2 years ago | (#39220595)

AT&T user here. I was more pissed off about these limits until I started using an app that shows me my data usage during the month and I had a surprising result: I only use 200 MB a month!! I thought I was someone who would be near the 2GB cap I have, but I am quite wrong. During my afternoon commute (~2 hours) on Amrtrak I use my phone to Facebook (including a lot of picture uploading), Twitter, web browsing, e-mail, light gaming and app downloads & usage. All of this is on 3G (or "4G" if I am to believe AT&T's marketing speak that HSPA+ is 4G). Weekends out around town is the same profile, though evenings and such at home I am on Wi-Fi. So to be using only 200MB was a shock to me. All I am saying is that we should all look at our usage before we are outraged. Yes: it is RIDICULOUS that they market "unlimited" data when throttling is, by any reasonable definition, limiting. But how many of you are really at or near the caps? I would really like to know!! I wonder how many of you are like me, thinking you use more data than you do.

Re:Calm Down... A LITTLE (4, Informative)

LoudNoiseElitist (1016584) | about 2 years ago | (#39220857)

How sure of that app are you? Have you been comparing it with what AT&T says you're using? Try dialing *3282# and see what the text message you get says. I'm willing to bet it's a *lot* more than 200mb, especially if you've been uploading images (assuming they aren't tiny).

Furthermore, people were originally angry because this throttling wasn't being applied to people necessarily going over their limits, it was people in the "top 5% of data usage", whatever that means. And there isn't a way for an app to tell you that, hence the outrage.

Re:Calm Down... A LITTLE (1)

Zerth (26112) | about 2 years ago | (#39221181)

top 5% in their billing area, no less. So if you're the only person with a smartphone in your zipcode, you'll always be throttled.

Re:Calm Down... A LITTLE (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39221163)

I just went to my carrier's site. In the first 10 days of my billing cycle, I've used 200MB. My son's used 168, my daughter 58, and my wife 6 (tell me again why she has a smartphone?). I consider myself to be a constant user and was also pleasantly surprised at how little 3G data I really use. I imagine it's because I'm around WiFi almost everywhere I go, and am the driver while away from home so wouldn't be on the phone anyway. My disappointment is in the carriers who offer video streaming services (Sprint TV and MobiTV for example) but if you use them about an hour per day you'll exceed your cap. My carrier doesn't support streaming their TV over WiFi, almost guaranteeing that you will go over. It's disappointing that they'll sell you the phone, the plan, and the "extras" and then afterwards tell you they don't have the bandwidth to support your shiny new toy.

Re:Calm Down... A LITTLE (4, Informative)

Zerth (26112) | about 2 years ago | (#39221165)

I listen to pandora/spotify/etc during my commute, plus google maps+nav, youtube videos, random webpages. I'm 8 days into my billing cycle and I'm at 1241 megs, so probably about 4gigs/month. More like 6 or 7 gigs if I use google hangout or ustream for any serious amount of time.

You're using your phone like you are on dialup, so it isn't surprising your data usage matches that.

Re:Calm Down... A LITTLE (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39221259)

Well, if it doesn't apply or affect you it must not be too bad a problem

It's a trick (1)

Grindalf (1089511) | about 2 years ago | (#39220809)

It's a trick, they should give a full connection and not assault users with their own software updates, etc. I would not dare put ANY limit or choke on myself, in the light of current debate.

5%? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39220829)

They say that only 5% of users reach that point... it doesn't matter if its only .01% its still dishonest

More upset about the tethering than throttling (1)

SageBrian (711125) | about 2 years ago | (#39220901)

Though the throttling issue is a nuisance, it only affects a few. And they are likely the ones that are using their phone as an internet replacement at home, so there is no wifi to shift data use.
I would have no problem giving up my unlimited AT&T plan for a 3GB/5GB plan, and pay extra if I go over. But I do have a big problem with them telling me that the data can only be used by one device.

For me, I'm paying for the data. What I do with the data is my business. If I need to tether my phone to my laptop for a few minutes, there should be no penalty. But, AT&T wants to charge extra $15 for the 'right' to use the data elsewhere? No thank you.

I'm about to play with T-Mobile in my unlocked phone to see whether it will be a good replacement. If it is, good bye AT&T. I'm so glad the merger was killed, otherwise, AT&T would be one of the only GSM providers in the US.

*sigh* (1)

LoudNoiseElitist (1016584) | about 2 years ago | (#39220913)

These idiots need to invest in infrastructure. This "people using mobile data" problem isn't going away.

Obligatory... (1)

triffid_98 (899609) | about 2 years ago | (#39220947)

I have altered the deal. Pray I do not alter it any further!

Throttle my data? (1)

omganton (2554342) | about 2 years ago | (#39220979)

How about I throttle your payments? I think I'll mail AT&T boxes of pennies each month my data is throttled.

"Only 5% of users" exceed the cap? (1)

KitFox (712780) | about 2 years ago | (#39220995)

Sometimes I think that people like to throw around numbers because they realize how few people understand the true impact.

Let's take "Only 5%" in real terms...

That means one in twenty people are being throttled. Crit in a d20 system? You're throttled. 1,000,000 Customers? 50,000 are throttled. That's a medium rural city being throttled. AT&T's nearly hundred million customers? Potentially five million throttled customers each month.*

5% is not a lot with a small total, but can be a pretty big number when you get to the subscriber count they have.

(* I am aware of the fact that they had around 95 million subscribers in January 2011, and that not all of them will be data users. There are plenty of dumb phones still around. Feel free to cut it down to, say, twenty million smart phone users at risk of bring throttled, and you still catch a million.)

AT&T - Run by crooks (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39221001)

AT&T, one company I will never do business with again. Even if they were the last company on the planet to offer net access. I would just do without.

I pay for 4GB, get throttled at 3GB. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39221053)

It's always nice to know that I'm paying for 4GB and get throttled at 3GB, which I have experimentally proven for 2 billing cycles in a row now.

Can't wait until my contract is up.

Greed (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39221079)

You are all deeply, deeply naive if you think any carrier's data plans are designed to do anything but create overage charges. They know exactly how much data the average smart phone users uses and they've been dialing down the data plans to make sure that they're below that.

Any telco that whines and complains about their users in liu of building actual infrastructure needs to be slapped around HARD by the three-letter agencies in charge of overseeing their licensed monopoly status.

Then why do they bother? (1)

flyingfsck (986395) | about 2 years ago | (#39221167)

If it only affects less than 5% of their users, why do they bother to throttle and piss them off?
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