AT&T Mobility limits ‘unlimited’ data plans

“AT&T Inc. is effectively ending unlimited data plans, saying that it will no longer let customers use more than a set amount of data per month without penalty,” Greg Bensinger reports for The Wall Street Journal.

“Under a new policy, AT&T will slow download speeds for unlimited 3G and 4G smartphone customers who exceed 3 gigabytes and 4G LTE users who exceed 5 gigabytes of data in a given month,” Bensinger reports. “AT&T had previously been slowing speeds, or throttling, customers who were in the top 5% of data users in their respective market. AT&T has been trying to manage capacity on its network in the face of heavy data consumption by Apple Inc. iPhone users and a limited supply of wireless airwaves, or spectrum.”

Bensinger reports, “A spokesman said the new guidelines were necessary because of confusion among unlimited customers over when their download speeds would be slowed. He declined to say by how much the speeds would be decreased… AT&T, and other carriers, has been pushing Congress and the Federal Communications Commission to release more licenses for wireless airwaves, or spectrum, to help stave off a capacity crunch as more customers download video, music and photos to their smartphones.”

Read more in the full article here.

MacDailyNews Take: 3 GB is the new “unlimited.”

AT&T is banking that those with “unlimited” data plans won’t take them to the only court our contracts allow (small claims court) where, as the related article below indicates, you have a reasonable chance of winning. According to The Associated Press, AT&T has about 17 million “unlimited” smartphone subscribers, most of whom use iPhones. $850 times 17 million equals $14.45 billion.

Make ’em pay.

[Thanks to MacDailyNews Readers “Jack F.” and “ruben” for the heads up.]

Related article:
AT&T customer wins $850 in iPhone ‘throttling’ case – February 24, 2012


  1. Hmmm. So is my $29.99 unlimited iPad data plan is not actually unlimited. Interesting. I should try maxing out to see if they really want to break our contract. I could use the extra cash if the actually break the contract.

  2. Well we as AT&T customers need to show them what we think when the contract ends simply move our buisness elsewhere and even though I know unlimited is impossible it isnt for those off us who had to deal with the slow and crappy service they provided for the first few years and only to be giving the thanks being throttled .. I only hope millions more feel the way I do

    1. Little known fact, if a telco changes their contract on you, that contract is null and void. You can leave and go with another provider. Might take some doing on your part but in the end, they changed the deal.

    2. Yep. About 7 years ago Verizon wanted to give me a new phone because my old phone was “outdated” but charge 5 dollars a month more. I refused to pay, refused to pay the cancellation fee to end the contract early (6 months in on a 2 year contract).

      In the end they had to give it up because they changed the contract.

    3. By my take one need not be throttled to bring suit. I entered a contract and paid the fair even when the service was so poor that using 3gb wasn’t possible. Now that I get near the value of the contract that I’ve been paying for since ’07 knowing that future features and build out would make me want to have it they switch.

      This makes me an aggrieved party x3 iPhones. I’m hoping someone such as the woman who sued and beat Honda over the Civic Hybrid performance will come forward. She is a attorney who hasn’t been practicing for the past few years. She is sharing with others the evidence and strategy that beat Honda.

      1. Okay, thanks for the education. I guess it is individual lawsuits, then. Although with such a sweeping policy, I bet if every customer who has their data throttled takes AT&T to court, AT&T will wish they hadn’t blocked a class action lawsuit – it might be less of a headache for them. 😉

      1. A limitation on speed is just that; a limitation on speed. The data is still “unlimited”.

        I’m not saying that AT&T should be off the hook for this – they’re basically punishing their long time customers – but had the wording been “unlimited 3G data”, then consumers would have more leverage.

        With that said, it’s still a dick move by AT&T.

  3. I am grandfathered with the unlimited data plan from my old iPhone 3GS (32 GB, white) I got in 2009. Sorry AT&T… You cut my speed down I sue and rightly so.

  4. 17 million x 5% throttled and can actually prove damages = 850,000 people, $722,500,000 in damages.

    Unless you think we can successfully sue without having been throttled? In which case… sign me up 🙂

      1. I’m not sure that’s what MDN means – As far as I understand it AT&T cannot be subject to a class-action suite by Congress. But if your contract say “Unlimited” then that’s what it has to be. Someone successfully sued for breach of contract and won $850.00. MDN want’s us ALL to individually sue in Small Claims Court…

        1. Maybe I don’t understand, but I thought the whole point of a class action lawsuit is that it’s waged in such a way that the ruling applies to anyone who finds themselves in the same situation, not just the individual plaintiff. That doesn’t mean it necessarily has to be brought by Congress. Or am I misunderstanding that?

          If a class action lawsuit isn’t feasible, then I guess it would take a bunch of individual lawsuits. Which, again, would be a huge headache for AT&T. 😉

          1. Sorry – I wasn’t clear – it’s not a class-action suit by Congress, as I understand it Congress passed a law that stated AT&T (and maybe other carriers) could not be subject to a class-action suit.

            1. There is no law against class-action suits against AT&T or anyone else.

              It is in your contract with them. When you activated your plan, you signed a contract in which you have given up your right to sue, or to be a part of a class-action. Essentially, the only arbitration that you accepted in case of dispute is the small claims court. Read the contract, it’s all there.

    1. Yes. And we’d like to see AT&T hire 850,000 lawyers to defend themselves.

      Wonder how much that would cost? Or would AT&T representatives simply not show up?

      Hey, guess who wins in small claims court when only one party shows up?

      Sometimes, basic logistics can win the day.

        1. Hahaha this is getting better and better.

          When someone does something wrong, whether it be patent infringements or not delivering a promised service (unlmtd data) then SUE THEM INTO OBLIVION.

          That’s what Lord Jobs taught us 🙂

  5. I always thought that a contract couldn’t be changed after it was signed by both parts…This proves I was wrong! Maybe AT&T had a disclaimer in the microscopic print.

  6. AT&T douchebags:
    Just credit my account $850 and save yourself major headaches. Also, pool my 3 unlimited and one 3GB plan into a master 12GB plan so I don’t have to worry about any one phone exceeding the 3GB in the ass limit.

  7. More spectrum would be nice, but it’s not the only answer. Building more towers would help too. That way, you have fewer people connected to each tower.

  8. Everyone with an unlimited data plan whose data service is slowed due to what AT&T considers excessive data usage should sue for damages in small claims court. My not include all 17 million subscribers but there will be enough that when AT&T has to defend itself in each individual state county, AT&T will feel the pain.

        1. Speed is always limited and no carrier will EVER guarantee ANY speed (EDGE, 3G, 4G, LTE, whichever). There is no such thing as unlimited speed. Every mobile contract has plenty of exclusions and conditions (“depending on network congestion, signal coverage, terrain, buildings, structures, etc…”). 4G speed is only meaningful in advertising; once you actually buy the phone and sign the contract, all bets are off (on all carriers throughout the world).

          Once we admit that, we begin to debate how slow is too slow and what speed should be considered unacceptable, and nothing in the contract defines (or mentions) speeds. As I said, good luck suing.

          1. Agree with u that no carrier will guarantee speed and “exclusions and conditions (“depending on network congestion, signal coverage, terrain, buildings, structures, etc…”)” , but at the same time the speed cannot be manipulated, which is what they are doing or going to do.
            And contracts don’t mention that they can throttle if there is too much use since it would invalidate the use of the word “unlimited”. Since contracts don’t mention speed it can be “assumed” to be at the fastest speed possible without intentional interference from the carrier.

            ranting, pain killers, scotch, yawn…. good night all

  9. Class Action suit asking:
    1- To be immediately released from all contracts with AT&T, subsidiaries, contractors, business partners without penalty, refund or fee.
    2- To be refunded 25% of the monthly fee multiplied by the term in months to each customer for breach of contract.
    3- Legal fees for legal representatives.

    All right Attorneys, here is a nice fat one ripe for picking. Stop chasing ambulances and get with the program.

    For those in the (sales) service area, C-Spire now has the iPhone with a nice unlimited plan and very good nationwide coverage.

    1. Not going to happen. The contract that consumers signed with AT&T (or any other carrier in the US, for that matter) does NOT allow them to sue in court, individually, nor as a class. You gave up all your rights to sue; in case of any disputes between you and the carrier, you only accepted arbitration in a small claims court.

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