AT&T stopped offering unlimited data plans for its cell phone customers long ago, but allowed those who already subscribed to such a plan to be grandfathered in. However, recently it's become very obvious that, grandfathered in or not, AT&T wants you off of the unlimited plan, and that they'd annoy you with slow data speeds in an effort to nudge you towards a tiered plan. Some users were seeing their speeds throttled down after using just 2 GB of data on their "unlimited" plans. After enough people complained, and enough press covered it, AT&T has finally decided upon what the throttling rules will be for unlimited data customers. 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 3 GB in one billing cycle.
- Each time you use 3 GB 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 5 GB of data usage, instead of 3 GB.
So, there you have it. If you have an unlimited 3G data plan, then you can use up to 3 GB of data in a given billing cycle before your speeds are throttled down to super-slow for the remainder of the cycle. Once a new cycle begins, the process starts again. As for you unlimited 4G LTE AT&T customers, you get 5 GB instead of 3 GB. Kind of horrible, since 4G LTE is supposed to let you get faster data speeds and all the advertisements around it show customers using it to stream movies and TV shows, and yet AT&T is saying if you do that a couple of times, then for the rest of the month your data speeds will be nowhere near what 4G LTE is advertised as.
T-Mobile on Wednesday announced an unlimited talk, text, and data plan for $79.99 per month, though the carrier will throttle data speeds after a user consumes 2GB, so it's not exactly unlimited.
With the plan, dubbed T-Mobile Even More Unlimited, users get unlimited calling and text messages and up to 2GB of data at normal speeds. If a user exceeds 2GB in a one-month period, however, they will experience "reduced speeds until their new billing cycle starts," T-Mobile said.
T-Mobile will alert users via text message if they are approaching 2GB of data usage. This might not be a major issue for the average user, who uses about 1GB per month, but if you have a particularly data-intensive month, plan on some slow-loading Web sites by the end of your billing cycle.