Jacqui Cheng reports:
AT&T’s throttling plan will mirror that of Verizon’s, which was implemented in February just before the introduction of the Verizon iPhone. Under that system, Verizon reduces the data throughput speeds for the five percent of customers who “use an extraordinary amount of data.” The throttling typically lasts through the remainder of the current billing cycle and returns to normal at the beginning of the next one, though under some circumstances, it’s possible for the reduced speeds to spill over into the next billing cycle as well.
Or see AT&T’s bullshit version if you speak PR.1
This is generating a lot of nerd rage that can be summarized as “AT&T sucks! I’ve held onto my unlimited data plan since the [insert old iPhone model] and ‘unlimited’ should mean ‘unlimited’! Greedy corporate bastards!”
But “unlimited” is never literally true, especially in the tech industry. It was certainly stupid of AT&T to ever advertise it as such, but nobody should be surprised that the iPhone’s explosive popularity, and the data-heavy smartphone-usage revolution it delivered to the industry over the last four years, far exceeded the data capacity that AT&T thought they’d need to deliver.
“Unlimited” really means unmetered for now, or without a publicly stated limit. Discontinuing the issuance of new “unlimited” plans was the first step of acknowledging that they couldn’t deliver truly unlimited data to everyone, and this is the next.
It’s not a great situation to be in, but they probably don’t have much choice. Next time your contract is up, if this really bothers you, switch to a carrier that offers truly unlimited data… if you can find one.
The only interesting part is the political jab at the end:
But even as we pursue this additional measure, it will not solve our spectrum shortage and network capacity issues. Nothing short of completing the T-Mobile merger will provide additional spectrum capacity to address these near term challenges.