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AT&T starts throttling high data users down to 2G speeds

Image used with permission by copyright holder

As reported earlier this year as a alternative to data caps, AT&T has begun sending messages to all smartphone owners that are among the top five percent of data users on the network. This was first spotted by a Cult of Mac user and posted on the popular Apple blog. After sending the text message warning of the decreased speed, AT&T throttles that account down to 2G (EDGE) speeds for the remainder of the billing cycle. The majority of these users likely pay AT&T for unlimited data each month, a plan that AT&T discontinued in favor of plans that cap data usage each month. While a smartphone user would likely have to use a tremendous amount of data to receive this message, business users that constantly utilize smartphone data during an extremely busy month may be impacted by this change.

att_throttling_iphone_dataWhile AT&T claims to use data throttling as a temporary measure until the company can enhance the data network, part of the planned improvements to the network include utilizing T-Mobile’s network to ease the struggling AT&T network. However, the possibility of this happening is dwindling without FCC approval and resolution of a Department of Justice lawsuit which is required to continue with the merger according to Forbes. While Virgin Mobile and Verizon also cap high data users on a month-to-month basis, this action isn’t going to help enhance AT&T’s image within the public. According to a recent study, AT&T has the lowest consumer satisfaction rating based off results from over 60,000 Consumer Reports subscribers.

AT&T officials are likely concerned with the upcoming expiration date of the two-year contract of anyone that upgraded to the iPhone 4 during June of 2010. Since Apple will likely release an iPhone 5 during mid-2012 to entice iPhone 4 users to upgrade, AT&T subscribers could easily defect to more stable and advanced data networks on other cellular providers six months from now.  

Mike Flacy
By day, I'm the content and social media manager for High-Def Digest, Steve's Digicams and The CheckOut on Ben's Bargains…
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