Blogs » Digital Babble » AT&T limits "unlimited data" plan


If you are one of AT&T's customers grandfathered in to their unlimited data plan, prepare to be throttled. Or, shall I say, prepare to have your data throttled if you go over your data limit.

What's this all about, you ask? How can my "unlimited data plan" be limited?

AT&T's data throttling, or slowing down service, for its unlimited data plan customers has been reported since last year. The company has targeted customers who were in the top 5 percent of data users.

Most of AT&T's customers with this plan are iPhone users who purchased their phones between June 2007 and June 2010. AT&T dropped the unlimited data plan option in June of 2010. The unlimited data plan costs customers $30. Under AT&T new data plan, $30 now gets you 3 gigabytes of data. [Source:]

After complaints from customers about data throttling, AT&T released the following statement on Thursday, “Our unlimited plan customers have told us they want more clarity around how the program works and what they can expect."

Here is AT&T's description of how they will handle data usage for unlimited plans:

If you have a smartphone that works on our 3G or 4G network and still have an unlimited data plan:

You'll receive a text message when your usage approaches 3GB in one billing cycle.Each time you use 3GB or more in a billing cycle, your data speeds will be reduced for the rest of that billing cycle and then go back to normal. The next time you exceed that usage level, your speeds will be reduced without another text message reminder.

If you have a 4G LTE smartphone and still have an unlimited data plan, the same process applies at 5GB of data usage, instead of 3GB.

Over on his TechBlog, Dwight Silverman did his own investigation and wrote about customers in the Houston area affected by AT&T's data throttling. Silverman brings out some thought provoking questions as to the reasons behind this data throttling, and he asks, "Is AT&T’s throttling policy more than just a way to manage data usage on its overloaded network? Is it also a way to get people to switch to a limited-tier plan?"

Not many mobile companies offer unlimited data plans. I believe Sprint may be the only carrier offering such a plan as of this moment. Verizon offered an unlimited plan for a while, but stopped that last year.

Have any of you experienced data throttling from AT&T? Would you consider changing to a company that offered unlimited data plans?

I am one of the customers with this "unlimited" data plan from AT&T. So far I have yet to receive a warning message that some have received from AT&T. I don't use that much data, so right now it is not a concern.

You can read more about AT&T's data usage on their website at