Limiting “unlimited” cell phone plans … it’s called “throttling”

Late last year, AT&T started slowing down data service for the top 5 percent of its smartphone subscribers with “unlimited” plans — often to speeds slower than AT&T provides to subscribers on limited or “tiered” plans.

When slowed down, the phone can still be used for calls and text messaging, but Web browsing is painfully slow, and video streaming doesn’t work at all.

AT&T’s throttling of “unlimited” data comes as it tries to deal with limited capacity on its wireless network.

When the iPhone was new, AT&T had ample capacity on its network, and wanted to lure customers with the peace of mind offered by unlimited plans.

One ‘throttled’ subscriber took AT&T to court … and won !

Judge Awards IPhone User $850 In Throttling Case

When AT&T started slowing down the data service for his iPhone, Matt Spaccarelli took the country’s largest telecommunications company to small claims court. And won.

His award: $850.

The judge said it wasn’t fair for the company to purposely slow down his iPhone, when it had sold him an “unlimited data” plan.

Verizon Wireless and T-Mobile USA also throttle users, but their policies are gentler.

Verizon only throttles if the specific cell tower a “heavy user” subscriber’s phone is communicating with is congested at that moment.

Thanks to TH for feeding the lead.

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