AT&T (NYSE: T) is not winning friends with its efforts to throttle service to alleged data hogs that are grandfathered in on its unlimited plans.
Several bloggers have reported AT&T is sending high data-usage alerts to what it claims are the top 5 percent of wireless data users in any given region and then throttling those users' data speeds. Blogger John Cozen detailed several days of communications with AT&T customer service representatives in which he complained that his service was throttled after he consumed only 2.1 GB of data in one month on his unlimited-service plan.
According to a message sent by an AT&T representative in response to Cozen's initial complaint, the mobile operator garrotes speeds in order to reduce excessive use on its unlimited data plans, though it does not throttle data speeds for the 15 million smartphone customers on tiered data plans. In mid-January, AT&T unveiled new tiered data price plans, offering 300 MB of data for $20, 3 GB for $30 and 5 GB for $50.
A different AT&T rep subsequently told Cozen that data speeds are only throttled when a customer uses "an extraordinary amount of data in a single billing period." Yet other AT&T customers who, like Cozen, are on older unlimited service plans have recently complained of similar throttling experiences, though they also did not consume seemingly exorbitant amounts of data.
Mobile operators have begun favoring tiered pricing schemes rather than all-you-can-eat data plans and are increasingly throttling service to users on existing unlimited plans. Even Sprint Nextel (NYSE:S) prepaid brand Virgin Mobile recently announced it would begin smartphone data throttling.
AT&T increases pricing, usage thresholds on smartphone data plans
Virgin Mobile to begin smartphone data throttling in March