AT&T Unlimited Data Plan Now Tops Out At 22GB/Month Before Throttling

AT&T, which is currently fighting the Federal Communications Commission over a possible $100 million penalty for its practice of throttling data speeds for customers with so-called “unlimited” data plans if they used up more than 5 gigabytes of LTE data in a month, has decided to increase that monthly usage threshold all the way up to 22GB.

The company explains that while its “network management practices” — industry code for data throttling — are “used for the benefit of all our mobile broadband customers especially during periods when network demand exceeds available network resources,” these practices have evolved to reflect current data speeds and customer usage habits.

“As a result of this evolution, we recently revised our practices such that Unlimited Data Plan smartphone customers can now use 22GB of high-speed data during a billing period before becoming subject to network management practices,” explains AT&T, who reiterates that the “essential promise” of an unlimited plan isn’t really unlimited data — as common sense and the plan’s own name might imply — but having to only pay a single monthly flat rate.

Critics of AT&T’s throttling practice claim that speeds can be slowed to the point where there is little point trying to go online on your phone.

AT&T now says that even after a customer reaches the 22GB level, “speed reductions will occur only when the customer is using his or her device at times and in areas where there is network congestion.”

Unlimited subscribers who gobble up a lot of data will first receive a heads-up when the reach 16.5GB in a billing cycle, meaning they’ve used 75% of the 22GB.

Verizon, which never enacted its plan to throttle LTE data usage for its few remaining unlimited customers, recently put an end to its years-long policy of slowing 3G data speeds. The company explained that there was no point throttling service for “such a small subset of customers who were affected.”


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