AT&T throttles “unlimited data” even when there’s no congestion

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It’s no secret that AT&T throttles its users unlimited data connections. The company has been rather open about the policy. However, the carrier insisted that the practice is used to reign in the biggest bandwidth consumers, only necessary to keep network congestion at a minimum. Well, that doesn’t seem to be the case. Big Blue’s info page for “customers with legacy unlimited data plans” explains that when folks hit the 5GB threshold, they’re gonna experience reduced speeds until the billing cycle is up.

A while back, we reported that AT&T had stopped throttling unlimited data users except in cases when the network is congested. We were wrong. AT&T did change its policy to stop the automatic throttling of many unlimited data plans, but the company’s older, more draconian throttling policy still applies to customers with unlimited LTE data. AT&T told Ars the policy will be changed for all customers sometime in 2015, but it did not say whether that will happen closer to the beginning of the year or the end of the year.  Here’s how it works: Customers who have 3G or non-LTE 4G phones and “legacy unlimited data plans” are throttled for the remainder of the billing period after they exceed 3GB of data in a month, but only “at times and in areas that are experiencing network congestion.” 4G and LTE are practically synonymous these days, but AT&T also applies the 4G label to its HSPA+ network technology. 4G LTE customers with unlimited plans aren’t throttled until they reach 5GB of data. However, these customers are throttled for the remainder of the month at all times of the day and night regardless of whether the network is congested.

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