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If you are an iPhone user on a grandfathered unlimited data plan with AT&T, be careful how much data you use. You won’t get charged extra for using too much, but you will see your speeds drop from 3G to 2G. This only applies to the top five percent of data users, but it is still pretty ridiculous. If you are in that group, you will receive a text message telling you that your data is being throttled.

This sets a dangerous precedent for cell phone carriers. They offer unlimited data, but punish the users that actually make use of it to the fullest extent. The reports of this first came out in October, but it seems as though AT&T is finally taking action in a more visible way. AT&T claims this is more targeted at jailbreakers, but the fact is, regular users could easily hit high amounts of data without jailbreaking their phone.

At this point, it is unknown whether other US carriers will follow their lead, but now that the anger is already directed at AT&T for being the first, it would certainly be easier for others to follow.

If you are a high data user, try to be more cautious, as the last thing you want is to see your speeds drop considerably.

Source: Cult of Mac

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  1. Johnsmith807
    February 7, 2012 at 9:11 pm

    we r being throttled too. i use it to stream sirius radio at work and there is no wifi there. i asked when i bought the phone if there would be a speed/data limit and they said no, im good to go, no restrictions. this was two years ago but im still on the same contract.  no im being punished for being loyal. i saw a guy later say data is an option, not true, when u buy the iphone they force you to buy the data.

  2. Ed
    January 27, 2012 at 2:17 pm

    I got pinched this month. 2 gb and I have throttled data. This is their ploy to get rid of unlimited
    data. With the new data plans for $30 you get 3 Gb. So why do I get throttled at 2?
    I am now going to abuse data so bad. I pay for unlimited data and now I will use it
    24 hours a day. Everybody should do this and maybe they will rethink what they are doing.
    I know that won't happen, they will probably just throttle your data further.

  3. Vaughn Logan
    January 20, 2012 at 10:43 pm

    *** MUST READ ***


  4. guest
    December 28, 2011 at 10:30 pm

    im sick of at&t.  i only used between 4 and 6gb a month. i pay for 4 phones, over $400 a month. one phone goes over and then its useless for what i use it for.  i've decided to do a reverse boycott. now when i get home or go to bed, i set my phone on the charger, turn on netflix, find a long movie and keep replaying it over and over. even slowed down i use 50mb an hour.  now this month im going to use about 19 to 20gb. if more people do this maybe they would rethink their punishment and fix what is really wrong in the first place. their shitty network. i hope this spreads

    • Tina
      December 30, 2011 at 10:04 am

      Interesting idea.

    • Jerryt75
      January 5, 2012 at 8:55 pm

      I am doing the same thing. I use my data completely Legit. I would never jailbreak my phone to get internet tethering. Since I got their notice I have been streaming as much as I can. I usually use the WiFi at my work but I have turned it off to use more of AT&T's "unlimited" data and I plan on doing that until my contract runs out and then looking at other options. I use it a lot for Netflix, HBO Go, Hulu+, Pandora Facebook, Words with Friends, Google Calendar and a lot more. Now its all on AT&T network and no wifi.

    • Imcoopdog
      January 20, 2012 at 7:32 pm

      They cut me back as well, good plan I will follow, I hope AT&T likes Netflix, See if we cant get that number to 40GB

    • Triplec92
      January 27, 2012 at 6:34 am

      I have been doing the same! using slacker radio endlessly. My guess is it will just piss them off and they will terminate me. Im ready for court If there was another network with good unlimited data speeds and good coverage i would switch. I liked AT&T until this. too bad there is no good network in the USA mostly due to network restrictions

    • Raobee
      February 12, 2012 at 12:22 am

      I was thinking the same thing. I'll start tonight

    • Kim
      February 14, 2012 at 6:18 am

      Funny thing I've been doing that for quite a while. I'm glad I'm not the only tryin to punish AT&T. Honestly, I have wifi at home and work but refuse to use it because I pay for 4 Internet iPhone plans and at one time they were all unlimited. Of course, with the tiered plans, I have changed everyone else on the $25 plan besides me. It's sick when the rest of the family might use a fourth of the allotted 2gb per month. 4 iPhone plans should give us at least 8gb as a family without any throttled speeds. But instead AT&T wants to punish the unlimited. I'd say the answer is make a family plan for data that can be shared for a smaller fee and I would leave my wifi on all the time. I too like the others purposely stream movies for that reason lol!

  5. Arthur McKenzie
    December 13, 2011 at 9:59 pm

    In my country there is something called a Fair Usage Policy that lets telecom operators throttle speed after a specific amount of data transfer (usually after 5-10GB of usage).

    • James Bruce
      December 15, 2011 at 9:35 am

      Only nasty operators. Sky Unlimited is 100% unlimited, so is Virgin Media between 9pm - 9am. I assume you mean UK, because thats the only country in the world that markets unlimited(*subject to fair use) internet!

  6. Anonymous
    December 13, 2011 at 6:03 pm

    That would explain the message I got yesterday.  Wonderful.

    • Dave LeClair
      December 15, 2011 at 9:16 am

      Oh no, you are the 5%? If you don't mind me asking, what do you use so much data on?

      • Anonymous
        December 15, 2011 at 1:00 pm

        Dave, I drive a lot when I work and use the map function, Yelp for locating good places to eat wherever I am, Pandora to listen to music, Downcast to download and listen to podcasts, Evernote to save things I won't remember and still be able to find them (phenomenal app), Simplenote to keep a running log of the work I do for billing and for report-writing purposes, Dropbox to keep certain documents I use regularly, and Facebook, Twitter, and G+ apps for viewing and sending posts (with Hootsuite for Twitter and Facebook, generally).  I also use Google Calendar on my iPhone to make and remember my appointments.  All of these, in one way or the other, use data if I'm not in an area where there is Wi-Fi available and, frankly, sometimes I forget to use Wi-Fi when it is available because I'd never run afoul of AT&T's data limits in the past. This is, of course, because I am a grandfathered user with presumably no limits on the amount of bandwidth I have used.  Apparently, the limit issue hasn't changed, but I assume nothing in the contract prohibits them from throttling the speed for users who burn up lots of bandwidth.  

        I'd be more upset about this if AT&T were throttling my bandwidth without telling me.  Given the notice and what appears to be common knowledge about this practice, I'm only upset about it to the extent that what appears to be a 2 or 4 gig limit before throttling seems paltry to me.  For now, I'll just have to be more careful about my usage.  I've reset my usage stats so I can keep better track and will adjust my use behavior, which I imagine is exactly what AT&T wants.  I can always vote with my feet by leaving AT&T, and that's an option I'll consider if I feel I can do better elsewhere.  It's a fine line given the hassle involved in changing carriers and the knowledge that even were I to do so nothing stops the carrier I move to from adopting a similar practice in the future.  

        • Dave LeClair
          December 20, 2011 at 10:44 pm

          Wow, so you are using your data completely legit and still getting throttled, that seems unreasonable to me, but I suppose as long as you are careful you will be able to keep it in check.

  7. lyric
    December 13, 2011 at 2:06 pm

    AT&T does indeed charge additional fees if you exceed your 2GB of bandwidth.  The charge is assessed in 1GB blocks at $10 per GB.

    • Dave LeClair
      December 15, 2011 at 9:16 am

      This more applies to people with unlimited, who are using tons of gigs of data.

  8. Anonymous
    December 13, 2011 at 1:32 pm

    Are they allowed to do that?

    • Nick
      December 13, 2011 at 1:52 pm

      They can do whatever they want. A) Data is a feature and there's no contract on features, so if you don't like it, you can add/delete it without penalty and B) No where in the verbiage for the data plans does it guarantee speed, just total data allowed. Even when throttled, you still have unlimited data, it's just slower.

      • Anonymous
        December 13, 2011 at 1:57 pm

        Unless the unlimited speed is in the contract. In that case, you could probably sue them. Especially in the USA, where you can sue anyone for anything ;)

  9. Nick
    December 13, 2011 at 11:47 am

    T-Mobile has throttled for some time and this was news a couple of weeks ago