A Look at AT&T's Throttling for High-Use Unlimited iPhone Data Customers

Discussion in 'iOS Blog Discussion' started by MacRumors, Jan 17, 2012.

  1. MacRumors macrumors bot


    Apr 12, 2001

    Late last year, AT&T began throttling the data speeds of its highest-use unlimited data customers, knocking down the ability of the top 5% of its users to consume data for the remainder of a billing period once they hit certain thresholds. While AT&T no longer offers unlimited data plans, it did so for several years with the iPhone, and users who had previously signed up for the unlimited have been able to keep their plans even as they have upgraded to new devices.


    AppAdvice takes a look at the effect of AT&T's throttling on a user's web experience on the iPhone, showing how the move can make the device nearly unusable with data speeds well below that of even the carrier's fallback EDGE network.

    AppAdvice conducted a series of side-by-side tests showing data download speeds on both throttled and non-throttled devices, swapping the SIM cards to demonstrate that throttling rather than any other hardware difference was indeed responsible for the significantly slower speed. The testing also included additional real-world comparisons showing the loading of Google Maps and the website of The New York Times on both devices.

    Article Link: A Look at AT&T's Throttling for High-Use Unlimited iPhone Data Customers
  2. r2fa3l macrumors regular

    Oct 8, 2010
    Wirelessly posted (Mozilla/5.0 (iPhone; CPU iPhone OS 5_0_1 like Mac OS X) AppleWebKit/534.46 (KHTML, like Gecko) Version/5.1 Mobile/9A405 Safari/7534.48.3)

    In other words, once the iPhone gets throttled we get Sprint 3G speeds!!!!!

    I honestly don't know why people fuss about data, most networks sell 1GB for $10 - it's not that bad.
  3. impulse462 Suspended


    Jun 3, 2009
    Not AT&T.
  4. mkrishnan Moderator emeritus


    Jan 9, 2004
    Grand Rapids, MI, USA
    My AT&T data overage charge is $10/GB as the previous poster stated.

  5. Endofinnocence macrumors newbie

    Jan 17, 2012
    Wirelessly posted (Mozilla/5.0 (iPhone; CPU iPhone OS 5_0_1 like Mac OS X) AppleWebKit/534.46 (KHTML, like Gecko) Mobile/9A405)

    I have atnt and yes once I hit 2gb they send me warning that I'm getting close.. Then it happens... My speed get reduced and the phone is worthless... I do nothing different from when I
    Had my 3GS.. But my data went up from maybe 500mb a month to over 3000mb.. I would have loved
    To know that as the phone got better the data usage was going to be more and now atnt is on my ass slowing down my data... I need a fix to this like now
  6. Hitch08 macrumors 6502

    Oct 21, 2008
    Is there any idea as to what constitutes the "top 5%"?

    EDIT: I didn't see the post above before submitting mine. Are you saying that anything over 2GB's is in the top 5%?
  7. tjb1 macrumors 68000

    Aug 26, 2010
    Pennsylvania, USA
    When Verizon throttled my phone, the thing wouldnt even load Pandora...really pisses me off that you pay for Unlimited and they throttle the already slow network to where it barely loads the Pandora app, let alone play something.
  8. gLaDiAtOr73 macrumors member

    Nov 29, 2008
    complete BS. ive received the text for 2 straight months. they usually send that out once you hit 2gb. its ridiculous because they offer a 2gb plan so how is hitting 2gb a top 5% user????? i was grandfathered into the unlimited like many of you and dont feel like i abuse the network. internet radio at work is really the only thing that causes my data to go up. i know nothing is ever "unlimited" but if i hit 5gb in a month then i wouldnt mind the throttling, but not for 2gb!!!!


  9. JonneyGee macrumors 6502


    Jun 8, 2011
    Nashville, TN
    Wirelessly posted (Mozilla/5.0 (iPhone; CPU iPhone OS 5_0_1 like Mac OS X) AppleWebKit/534.46 (KHTML, like Gecko) Mobile/9A405)

    It seems as though in recent months AT&T has drastically lowered the point at which they begin throttling (perhaps because people using 5 GB+ found a new plan when they began throttling). About a year ago I was hearing 7-8 GB was the threshold for throttling but it seems it's now closer to 2 GB. Definitely pathetic considering they offer a 2 GB/month plan for $5/month less.
  10. 3282868, Jan 17, 2012
    Last edited: Jan 17, 2012

    3282868 macrumors 603

    Jan 8, 2009
    There are quite a few threads on this, such as mine below. I documented my recent experiences with AT&T as a grandfathered unlimited data user who has been throttled down to near nothing 3G data speeds (An AT&T store manager and associate could not get Safari to load on my 4S in Chicago at the beginning of the month).

    Upon examining my contract, I have not exceeded 3GB/mo., my billing cycle resets on the 11th of every month and AT&T will not allow unlimited data users to purchase more data unless they switch to a tiered plan. Thus AT&T "throttles" the unlimited data user for the remainder of their monthly billing cycle (whereas I learned VZW throttles the user based on tower congestion and will increase 3G speeds when congestion lessens). Speaking with an AT&T rep, I asked why, as an AAPL Corp. employee, am I being "punished" for such small data usage on an unlimited plan. Her response, "This is a reaction to your action." This was stated (unbeknownst to the customer service rep) in front of two AT&T Wireless store employees, one of which was a manager. They were shocked. I have received four "warning" since the Fall. As we are still beta testing "iTunes Match" over 3G data, as well as the need for "Siri" to phone-in 4S verification and functionality and iCloud services, AT&T was ill-prepared. Their solution: push people into tiered plans.

    My thread:


    In short, AT&T is strong arming grandfathered unlimited data plans into tiered plans. It would be understandable should one be utilizing as much as 50GB's as one MacRumors member demonstrated, however 2-3 GB/mo's data on an unlimited plan should not equate to data throttling.
  11. MarkMS macrumors 6502a

    Aug 30, 2006
    No one really knows, but I'm guessing anything over 4GB. 4GB is their max "DataPro" plan and I'm sure AT&T gets upset when their $30 "unlimited" plan beats out their 4GB $45 plan that includes mobile hotspot.

    AT&T's top 5%/normal 95% data caps are utter bullcrap. 200MB for "normal" iPhone users isn't enough.
  12. nottooshabby, Jan 17, 2012
    Last edited: Jan 17, 2012

    nottooshabby macrumors 6502

    Jul 12, 2008
    Must be nice to get 1.5 Mb/s. I am lucky to get 300-400kB/sec. I'm basically throttled by the crappy network. I'm up to 958 Megs with 2 weeks to go in my billing cycle. Hopefully I don't get throttled for doing nothing more sinister than internet radio at work which doesn't even work half the time because the network is so slow.
  13. k1121j macrumors 6502a


    Mar 28, 2009
    New Hampshire
    According to AT&T

    According to AT&T when they dropped the unlimited plans they said in their press release "98 percent use less than 2 GB" if this were true then the top 5% is less than 2 GB unless they were lying. Furthermore i disagree with them throttling you based on someone else's usage??? does this mean as time goes by and they cut the average data usage of people by throttling them then people will soon find themselves in the top 5% at lower and lower usage rates??????

    __Someone sue the crap out of them and Sprint please and throw in that lawsuit the misleading advertising if unlimited data they apparently invented their own definition of the term. there is a limit throttling or not if they just calculate you data speed ( the theoretical top speed) over time time in the billing cycle thats what your limit is or is it HMM
  14. MarkMS, Jan 17, 2012
    Last edited: Jan 17, 2012

    MarkMS macrumors 6502a

    Aug 30, 2006
    I'm willing to switch to Sprint even with crappy speeds. Hopefully they find/implement a solution to the abnormally slow speeds soon. Just waiting on my contract to run out as I refuse to pay AT&T another dime other than what I owe per month. Must be nice to know that unlimited data actually means truly unlimited data. How would you feel if you were on the road using MotionX Maps trying to find your way and all of a sudden the maps aren't updating fast enough because you got throttled to 100kB/s because you went over their network abuse threshold of 3GB or so on their "unlimited" plan? Well, I guess you kind of know what I went through with Sprint are your current carrier. But it's ridiculous that they do this nonetheless.
  15. bb426 macrumors 6502


    Jun 7, 2011
  16. iClique.com macrumors member

    Jul 6, 2010
    This needs to be reported as a complaint to the FCC. I've also recieved a notice over the last two months, and when I called the AT&T rep said they used to send out the notice at 10gb a month and now they send it at 2gb. The Top 5% usage is not a FiXED number!!! It looks as though they are just lowering it to get people to use less. If more people are using their phones more that would drive the Top 5% number higher not LOWER!!!!
  17. Joshwawilson macrumors regular

    Apr 18, 2011
    Im sure glad I have sprint:) everyone says it sucks but I've had good experiences with sprint 3G recently. And it's the most unlimited network there is. Idk why they decided to follow with the throttling trend though, at least it's only top 1%
  18. Consultant macrumors G5


    Jun 27, 2007
    Considering $25 = 2GB, throttling for the $30 plan should NOT start at 2GB.

    $30 should equal to 2.4GB, but AT&T should not punish long term customers who are paying more per month than the $25 per month plan.

    Perhaps EDGE speed after 3 or 4GB, and announce a clear policy.

    I know some people with 200MB plans. They do nothing but email, light browsing, and texting.

    I don't go over 2GB even with tethering, but I don't stream stuff all the time.
  19. zigzagg321 macrumors 6502

    Oct 7, 2011
    the wire
    ATT should be fined billions for doing this. Then they will stop.
  20. blue22 macrumors 6502a


    Oct 15, 2010
    fear tactics used for overall compliance...

    It seems to me most of these wireless carriers try to scare customers into compliance/non-usage by deliberately not specifying what qualifies as "excessive" data usage so as to not allow more customers to manage data usage up to the closest possible point before being throttled. Yet, what the hell are customers paying all this money for if they can't maximize their data usage within the service plans limits that they signed up for?! Talk about shady.
  21. BladesOfSteel macrumors regular


    Jul 13, 2009
    St. Paul
    Not to totally jinx myself, but I hit about 2GBs of data every month. In recent months, I went over 2GB a few times - never have I received a text from ATT.
  22. MarkMS macrumors 6502a

    Aug 30, 2006
    I have no doubt you know some that get by with 200MB. I know a few, but each one I know is an older person who doesn't use their iPhone to its full potential.

    I don't go over 2GB most of the time, but I do use my iPhone as intended. I get a couple hundred emails a month, some with attachments. MotionX Maps for those business/vacation trips. Streaming Pandora and iTunes Match only in the car. Rarely any Youtube. No Netflix/Hulu unless on WiFi. A few app updates and bam, I'm getting a text saying I've hitting the top 5% because of the holiday traveling.

    I don't mind if they throttle to EDGE speeds for excessive use (e.g. over 5GB), but make it obvious. Don't say it's "unlimited" just because I'm not going to get hit with a $10/GB fee if I hit over 2GB.
  23. pfarfour macrumors newbie

    Aug 31, 2010
    Is there a written definition of "top 5% of users"? I bet they are only throttling the top 5% of unlimited data plan users and not the top 5% of their customer base. I'm sure they don't want that person who pays for extra data and uses it to skew their numbers. Or those customers who are constantly paying an overage of $10.

    As throttling chases away the abusers the only ones left are the people who likely keep unlimited data because it makes them feel better. I have only gone over 2GB twice in four years and now with the 4s I find myself coming very close to 2GB each month and continue to find new uses for my phone which consumes data. I am sure by the end of this year my average use will be at around 3GB, unless i get throttled. It shouldn't constitute abuse and it should be well within the confines of what I pay for and have been paying for since the original iphone.
  24. Rodimus Prime macrumors G4

    Rodimus Prime

    Oct 9, 2006
    but remember the $30 a month people also can never be charged overage. Compare that to the $25 month crew that would get charged $10 per gig for going over 2 gigs a month.

    Also AT&T seems to be choosing to based its throttling on locations and the cut off point is different for each location and all reports have shown that it is somewhere north of 2gigs. Just where the cut off is different depending on where you are located. I have busted 3 gigs several months in a row and no issue but then again I live in an area that is not having bandwidth issues and they have room to spare so not throttling. In other areas they could be much more limited so the throttling happens much earlier.
  25. Xenomorph macrumors 65816


    Aug 6, 2008
    St. Louis
    Am I reading your post wrong? 300-400 kB/sec is around 3 Mb/s, which is more than the 1.5 Mb/s you said "must be nice" to get.

    1.5 Mb/s would get you less than 187 kB/sec.

Share This Page