By Jason Simpson
This morning, I almost swerved off the road when I received a text message from AT&T:
“ATT Free Message: Your data usage has reached 3GB this month. Using more than 3GB in future billing cycles will result in reduced speeds. You can use Wi-Fi to help avoid reduced speeds.”
This can’t be right, I have unlimited data.
I was one of the owners of an original iPhone. I waited in line for hours to get it. At parties, I like to drop in a certain amount of sass and swag over how I was an original iPhone user. I’m proud and I know it. And with the sense of pride I feel over this, AT&T has ‘grandfathered’ me in to an unlimited data package for a set price. Because of their status, they no longer need to offer unlimited as an option.
Once I parked, I quickly dialed AT&T customer service and got in touch with Michele, a very nice representative from New York. She informed me that although I did technically have unlimited data, my speed would be cut in half for any data usage not on Wi-Fi until my billing cycle ended.
“If you notice something that typically took two seconds, now takes longer than five seconds, please call us back,” she said.
Just yesterday, my friend wanted to join my plan so I called AT&T and they informed me that 3GB is their maximum data package. To me, this is just a number, and I’m assuming that to many people it is just a number as well. I like the number three, but I don’t know how much data three gigabytes consists of. My iPhone has 16GB of storage, so does that mean new customers can transmit one-fifth of their phone per month before they are charged overages?
The term is “throttling” and AT&T is doing it to clear the network for all users. They are slowing down the top 5 percent of users in an effort to make the network faster for others.
According to AT&T’s website: “In response to soaring mobile broadband usage and the limited availability of wireless spectrum, we implemented a network management program back in 2011 to help ensure the best possible mobile broadband experience for all of our customers…Do you have an unlimited data plan? If so, we have information to help you manage your account if you use more than 3GB, which means you are in the top 5 percent of data users in our network. If you have a 4G LTE Smartphone with monthly data usage over 5GB, you’ll also be interested in this information.”
Clever writing makes this seem like they are doing everyone a favor, but I can’t count seconds while I’m downloading things. I’m just not that clever.
According to the tech blogs, if you reach your cap, AT&T will reduce you to 2G speeds, the speed of the original iPhone. According to AT&T’s data calculator, 3GB of data is enough to transmit 35 hours of streaming music, download 50 songs, or send 800 emails with photos attached to them. I am an avid Instagram user and I also went on a few road trips over spring break. In the car, I connected my iPhone to my friend’s car stereo so that we could listen to Pandora. One of my destinations was a cabin in the middle of Alabama with 4G coverage (hooray) and no Wi-Fi capabilities (boo). I’m supposing this are where my infractions occurred.
Will I leave AT&T over this? I’m not sure.
I will more closely monitor my usage and hopefully spread the word about the new meaning of the word “unlimited” to my fellow AT&T iPhone users.Contact Jason Simpson.