Sunday, 4 March 2012

The AT&T Scam

AT&T is in the news, once again, trying to make their unlimited data plans not look like a rip off. But as is the case with so many things from AT&T all is not what it seems.

Back in June 2007 AT&T jumped on the smart phone bandwagon, offering unlimited data plans - when the first iPhone came out. By June 2010 AT&T realized their network could not actually handle the unlimited data their customers were using; and began throttling the speed for heavy users.

For those that do not know 'throttling' is the term for slowing down data; which I presume AT&T thought would mean that the heavy users would become frustrated and stop using data for a while.

Even though AT&T has now stopped selling unlimited data plans they still have customers that have unlimited data plans from 2007-2010.

So AT&T recently announced that all customers on an unlimited data would be throttled after reaching a certain limit of data. For 3G users this limit is 3GB; and for LTE users the limit is 5G.

Verizon hit the same problem. They offered unlimited plans but in July 2011 ended the sale of the unlimited plan; and moved to a tier system for data usage. Like AT&T Verizon honored all those that had purchased an unlimited plan and allowed them to continue. The difference being that Verizon doesn't 4G and LTE devices; after all that is what they were built for. Why give a free app to watch the NFL if you have to worry about data?

Sprint and MetroPCS are the only two major US cell phone operators that offer a real unlimited data plan with no throttling; although with the way the cell phone business is that may change.

But the throttling of data is not the scam.

We have all seen the 4G commercials from AT&T. In fact it is hard to miss them; unless you turn your TV off for the next couple of years.

And this is where the scam comes in - AT&T has no 4G network. They are selling a 3G network as a 4G network.

What AT&T and T-Mobile did was to re-brand their enhanced 3G networks (sometimes called 3.5G) by simply renaming them “4G” networks. The problem is that the enhanced 3G networks of both T-Mobile and AT&T are based on GSM technology, so they are still voice networks that are essentially retrofitted to handle data.

So where is the scam? Classing an enhanced 3G network as a 4G network. It would be like classing a ISDN line as a high speed connection.

If you use your cell phone for making calls and the occasional text message any network is fine for that. You want to surf the net and watch live TV on your cell phone you may want to avoid the AT&T 4G scam and look elsewhere.


  1. Seems although AT&T get all the heat that Verizon does slow down the heavier data users.

  2. Ya but Verizon throttling you'll rarely if ever notice. It just acts like your using a busy tower then when it's not busy or you switch towers it's all back to normal. AT&T isnt controlling bandwidth their strong arming all unlimited plans to switch to $10gb plans. That's it period. If so congested why can I pay $100 for 10gb up to as much as I can use as long as I pay. My payment of $10 per GB is only going into the profit pool it's doing nothing to improve their so called congestion. It's a scam a marketing lie.


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