AT&T said that it will begin intentionally slowing down the transfer rates of the subscribers using the most data on its network. The company blames the need on a ‘serious wireless spectrum crunch’ that the country is facing. The first step, outside of expanding its infrastructure, is to reduce the speed of a ‘very small minority of smartphone customers’ who are on unlimited plans.
AT&T says that these users eat up 12 times more data than the average. The company also notes that this throttling will not apply to any of its 15 million users that are on a tiered data plan and only to a small number of those on an unlimited plan.
Users that are in the top 5% will recieve several notices before the throttling occurs. then, after an undetermined grace period, their connection will be slowed until the start of the next billing cycle.
While unlimited plans are no longer available from AT&T, there are still many users left on previous unlimited contracts. It stands to reason that unlimited users would be among the heaviest users of the networks data service. This move seems like an outright bid to get those users to either curb their usage or to switch to a tiered pricing plan. Although I’ve heard from some unlimited users that they consume upwards of 10 gigabytes of data a month or more, which would make a move to a tiered plan unfeasable.
There is also the irony of intentionally limiting data usage, if only by speed, of subscribers on a presumably unlimited plan.