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AT&T To Start Data Throttling Heaviest Users

timothy posted more than 2 years ago | from the sounds-like-a-martial-arts-demonstration dept.

AT&T 207

greymond writes "AT&T has announced that starting on Oct. 1 it will throttle the data speeds of users with unlimited data plans who exceed bandwidth thresholds on its 3G network. AT&T is following in the tracks Verizon and Virgin Mobile in reducing data throughput speeds of its heaviest mobile data users."

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breach of contract (3, Insightful)

samantha (68231) | more than 2 years ago | (#36928776)

I signed up for unlimited back years ago. Not for unlimited with limits that reduce speed. This is an arbitrary change of contract.

Re:breach of contract (1)

Abstrackt (609015) | more than 2 years ago | (#36928792)

I think you'll find they have provisions that allow them to do this. I think it's utter bullshit but it's there.

Re:breach of contract (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#36929334)

Not sure about the OP, but I know I never signed a single thing regarding my unlimited plan.

I wonder if this type of "terms of service" contract is really even enforceable....

Re:breach of contract (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#36929740)

Not sure about the OP, but I know I never signed a single thing regarding my unlimited plan.

Then I assume you crossed your heart and hoped to die and stuck a needle in your eye to activate your service?

Re:breach of contract (2, Insightful)

PopeRatzo (965947) | about 3 years ago | (#36929814)

I think you'll find they have provisions that allow them to do this.

The "provision" that allows them to do this is the decision of the Supreme Court in Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission which enables AT&T to give unlimited amounts of money to elect (or defeat) politicians.

As long as Citizens United is the law of the land, there will never, ever be another law enforced that protects consumers from anything a large corporations decides to do. The government acting as a counterbalance to corporate power is now an historical relic. The Savings and Loan Scandal back in the 80s, when crooked bankers were put in jail? That will never happen again. Tobacco companies being fined billions for lying about the safety of their products? Never again. Even the occasional attorney general who takes his job seriously and busts a company for dumping toxic waste into the municipal water supply, rare as it was, has now become extinct.

You work for AT&T now. AT&T (and Exxon, and ADM, etc) are the government now.

The "provision" that allows AT$T to "do this" is a gang of 5 ideologues named Scalia, Thomas, Alito, Roberts and Kennedy. Politicians in black robes. Extremist activists masquerading as "originalists" who devalued the human right of free speech by giving it to nonhuman entities. Bad enough that an earlier court decided that "money = speech" (something that diverse thinkers such as Jefferson and Madison both specifically rejected).

Re:breach of contract (1)

firex726 (1188453) | more than 2 years ago | (#36928798)

Cant you get out of your contract without penalty for that now?

isn't there some kind of 45 day grace period where they are required to let you out if the terms of the contract change at their discretion?

Re:breach of contract (1)

Gerzel (240421) | about 3 years ago | (#36929720)

Perhaps. Though why would they put that in their contract?

Its capitalism at work. I

Re:breach of contract (1)

BetaDays (2355424) | about 3 years ago | (#36930024)

even if there is where would you go everybody will start doing this

Re:breach of contract (1)

QuantumRiff (120817) | about 3 years ago | (#36930224)

Yes, he can. Where is he going to go now for unlimited mobile internet though? every single company has limits.. (bandwith limits and caps remind me more and more of baggage fees..)

Re:breach of contract (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36928800)

This is AT&T here. I don't think I have seen a contract of theirs that didn't include a clause to waive the right to sue. Also a clause which says that they can change the terms of service without notifying the customer.

Re:breach of contract (4, Insightful)

Mia'cova (691309) | more than 2 years ago | (#36928840)

A change in terms offers you the chance to get out of your contract. But that's fine for them as they want to transition everyone off unlimited plans anyways.. That said, they probably also had no guarantee of data speed/service provided in the contract. Limiting speed is possibly within their right without modifying any contract terms.. Those service agreements don't exactly work to the consumer's advantage.

Re:breach of contract (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36928916)

Your contract ended after the term was up. They're no longer ablated by the contract any more than you are. If you signed a 2 year, so did they. After that 2 years, they're not obligated any longer.

To bad, so sad.

Re:breach of contract (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#36929942)

Too bad that you're unable to spell small words.

Re:breach of contract (1)

guspasho (941623) | about 3 years ago | (#36929368)

Well, you can always cancel your service. You might even be able to get out of the cancellation fee since they broke the contract. But then again, that's exactly what they want you to do. They don't want anyone to keep the unlimited plan.

no you signed for unlimited with no overages (1)

Joe_Dragon (2206452) | about 3 years ago | (#36929408)

And that is US data only

Ahead of the US (2, Informative)

genjix (959457) | more than 2 years ago | (#36928814)

Here in the UK, this has been already happening with British Telecom (BT) for years.

I remember being on 'unlimited' dial-up and getting a letter saying that my speeds are going to be throttled at peak times due to heavy bandwidth usage.

Misrepresentation at it's best.

Re:Ahead of the US (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36929078)

You are aware that this article is about phones right?

Re:Ahead of the US (0)

similar_name (1164087) | about 3 years ago | (#36929280)

genjix made a comment about the past and throttling unlimited data plans over dial-up on a phone network that completely relates to the article about throttling unlimited data plans over 3g on a phone network. I'm not sure the point you're making.

Re:Ahead of the US (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#36930180)

Are you serious?

isn't it already throttled? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36928820)

it is hella slow, I travel to the US a lot for work and mostly use my Sprint 4G mifi while I'm walking around.

Re:isn't it already throttled? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36929256)

If you aren't from the US and, more specifically, from the San Francisco Bay Area, please don't use the term "hella". Thank you.

very old news (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36928830)

I dropped their 3g service last year when they implemented this. Apparently, 30gig/month via 3G was a lot.

The only thing I miss is being able to tell a client: "Let me pull into the next parking lot and I'll log in and fix it for you."

Re:very old news (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36928962)

30 gig a month IS a lot, over even the fastest 3g.

Re:very old news (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#36929422)

I've pulled a few movies down, and barely hit 15GB, during a month where I was moving from an old place, into a new place and didn't have wired internet yet. 30GB is a lot fore any wireless plan, by almost any definition. Though, with more streaming services, I wonder what 2 hours a night 3 nights a week of 480p content from youtube, hulu or netflix would add up to.

Re:very old news (2)

PNutts (199112) | about 3 years ago | (#36929746)

I wonder what 2 hours a night 3 nights a week of 480p content from youtube, hulu or netflix would add up to.

About 30 pounds.

AT&T is already slow shit (2, Informative)

hsmith (818216) | more than 2 years ago | (#36928838)

So they plan to make their shit service even worse?

Re:AT&T is already slow shit (4, Insightful)

icebike (68054) | more than 2 years ago | (#36929126)

So they plan to make their shit service even worse?

No, they are making it better.

As soon as they get rid of the guys pulling 30 to 100 gig a month there will be some bandwidth for the rest of us.

Yes, we would all like a 3g network that could be used like a cable modem, but the the fact of the matter is that
wireless is more constrained for bandwidth than wireline, and even wireline is getting caps.

Yes it would be nice if unlimited meant truly unlimited, but we are all adult enough to realize that was never the case in any market for any commodity at any time in the history of earth. There are always limits.

The reasonable expectation was always around 5 gig a month.

This is where everyone jumps in and claims that when they said unlimited they are bound to that and should support it.
Well, guess what, they still do support it. It will just flow slower. You can still get as much as you want across your
unlimited 3g plan, its just that you won't want to anymore.

The idea that on demand TV and streaming media should all go to the internet was ill-conceived and is proving inconvenient for both wired and wireless usage.
There is a reason multicast was invented.

Re:AT&T is already slow shit (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#36929688)

Dictionary.com : unlimited [reference.com]

  1. not limited; unrestricted; unconfined...
  2. without any qualification or exception; unconditional...

Just reading the AT&T website :

Stay connected anytime, all the time. For a low monthly fee, Messaging & Data Unlimited gives you unlimited text, picture, video, and instant messaging, as well as unlimited access to mobile Web, search, email, apps, and more.

Plain and simple, it's marketing speak, apparently with no truth behind it.

These new changes sure sound like a restriction / condition to me. As I see it, go ahead and make the changes. Just be sure to remove references to the term "unlimited."

Re:AT&T is already slow shit (1)

PNutts (199112) | about 3 years ago | (#36929762)

Even with a dictionary you fail to grasp the meaning of "unlimited"?

Re:AT&T is already slow shit (1)

PaladinAlpha (645879) | about 3 years ago | (#36929918)

They are not changing your ability to 'access' anything. Nowhere in that thing you quipped did it say "unlimited obligation on the part of AT&T to deliver the technically fastest possible throughput to your particular device". You still have unlimited access, i.e. at any time you can access the web.

Re:AT&T is already slow shit (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#36929760)

They should be reasonable enough to not sell unlimited plans with their current business model. But they did. Because it sells and there are no repercussions for lying. At any rate :) the 'few people' that are affected by throttling may not be as big of an effect as the 1.1 million wireless customers they added in the last quarter (which was down from a year ago, and close to 100 million total). So as usage (in both number of consumers and per consumer) goes up and thresholds come down, we'll all be throttled at some point. I prefer increasing infrastructure investment. But with AT&T trying to buy t-mobile there aren't a lot of options left so there are few choices for me if I want wireless.

Although profits were down 10% AT&T still reported $3.6 billion in net income over 3 months. Putting that money in their network or paying off their $65 billion of debt were down the list after paying 'investors' .$60 last quarter (down from $.67) on a $30 stock and buying one of the few competitors left.

I'm just throwing out crazy ideas but what if there were a multitude of companies. What if they competed in such a way that one could decide to truly offer unlimited but capped how many users to put on their network. Another could decide to put more people on their network and make tiered networks or offer a low cost low data speed plan. They could share an infrastructure and buy and sell bandwidth on an open market. Imagine the possibilities...

I hope that someday people realize government and business have different roles. Infrastructures require economies of scale. They are a benefit to society and should be developed, maintained and invested in by the people by means of their government. What goes on and across those infrastructures should be developed, maintained and invested in by a vibrant business marketplace with many players. We should also recognize that infrastructure within a state should be largely controlled by the state with the federal government stepping in when necessary to ensure the states connect to each other.

The government needs to provide society with the foundation to grow a healthy free market. There's a place for both and people too.

Re:AT&T is already slow shit (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#36929844)

The idea that on demand TV and streaming media should all go to the internet was ill-conceived and is proving inconvenient for both wired and wireless usage.
There is a reason multicast was invented.

On-demand multicast pooling with start time voting, a car pooling solution in the internet for this bandwidth starved world.. If only the content providers would not consider distributed caching as a copyright violation.

Re:AT&T is already slow shit (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#36929850)

This is where everyone jumps in and claims that when they said unlimited they are bound to that and should support it. Well, guess what, they still do support it.

Actually, no. If they throttle it, then you are limited to whatever the speed cap is times the number of hours per month.
 
Come to think of it, that's really what they should have advertised in the first place, since even with the "unlimited" plan you are only limited to the maximum theoretical speed per hour times the number of hours in a month.

Re:AT&T is already slow shit (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#36930006)

Wrong. This is being done to curb those streaming media sources. Apple wants to own everything through iTunes. If they can shut down streaming websites, and make on demand TV through the iphone damn near impossible, people will be forced to turn to their download based iTunes program paying out the ass for each episode/movie/file/yada yada yada. The service can handle it - they just want to put less money into their infrastructure and more in their pockets. It's not like they aren't making money.

Re:AT&T is already slow shit (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#36930230)

Wow, someone managed to turn AT&T pulling crap in to a rant against Apple. Well, this is Slashdot after all.

Re:AT&T is already slow shit (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#36930018)

>>The idea that on demand TV and streaming media should all go to the internet was ill-conceived and is proving inconvenient for both wired and wireless usage.
There is a reason multicast was invented.

lol, what?

On Demand TV and streaming media going on the internet was not ill-conceived or inconvenient. It has proven to be one of the things they did right, even if they have been trying to hamstring it themselves and are being drug kicking and screaming into it.

The constraints are there for wireless, that I agree with, but a lot of that also has to deal with refusal to build out your infrastructure and buying out all your competition while raising your prices so you don't need to.

But wired connections, all I can tell you is get the hell out of here if you think it is bad. The only thing holding it back is the fact that the content creators are also the internet and TV providers and they are trying to keep charging more than their product is worse while neglecting their upgrades to their infrastructure to keep up with demand and throttling people instead trying to kill online streaming or at least be able to double dip on what they charge.

Remember what happened when they were giving billions to upgrade their networks? I do, the government forgot to put in stipulations on what would happen if they didn't do it so instead of investing the billions, their CEOs and share holders got insane bonuses that yet.

Sorry, the internet has problems, but streaming TV isn't one of them. And to be honest, the only problems I have seen that it does have is how the major owners refuse to upgrade as they should have been and government and corporate attempts to control the beast. The beast as is, was the best thing that could have happened out of it. The problem is that the best thing that could happen wasn't in their best interests personally so they are trying to shove the gene back in the bottle.

Edit: Captcha == rubbish

Re:AT&T is already slow shit (1)

Nyder (754090) | about 3 years ago | (#36930090)

No, they are making it better.

As soon as they get rid of the guys pulling 30 to 100 gig a month there will be some bandwidth for the rest of us.

Yes, we would all like a 3g network that could be used like a cable modem, but the the fact of the matter is that
wireless is more constrained for bandwidth than wireline, and even wireline is getting caps.

...

Um, no. You are buying towing the company line there.

First off, there isn't a wired problem. Well, there is, as in the ISP don't bother installing more lines for peeps. Don't bother upgrading peeps connections, etc, and are over subscribing their lines, all for their bottom line.

Now with wireless, we have the same problem. the co's don't want to spend money upgrading their stuff to run with demand of what they are selling, so they are making it seem like it's the customers fault, or some of the customers fault, which the truth is, the company over subscribed what they could handle and are way too cheap to fix that.

Re:AT&T is already slow shit (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#36930214)

No, they are making it better.

As soon as they get rid of the guys pulling 30 to 100 gig a month there will be some bandwidth for the rest of us.

Yes, we would all like a 3g network that could be used like a cable modem, but the the fact of the matter is that
wireless is more constrained for bandwidth than wireline, and even wireline is getting caps.

Yes it would be nice if unlimited meant truly unlimited, but we are all adult enough to realize that was never the case in any market for any commodity at any time in the history of earth. There are always limits.

ed.

I believe Sprint [phandroid.com] begs [thedroidguy.com] to differ.

disclaimer: happy sprint customer for 5+ years, my bill is even always the same, to the penny.....

Re:AT&T is already slow shit (1)

sjames (1099) | about 3 years ago | (#36930228)

So, why do they keep advertising all the amazing bandwidth burning things you can do if you sign up with AT&T?

They invite heavy use and then cry about it whenever someone actually takes them at their word. The nerve of those evil nasty customers using what they paid for! Now, AT&T (hereinafter known as the paragon of virtue) will make everything all better for everyone by not giving people what they pay for. In other news, chocolate rations have been increased from 13 grams to 9 grams.

based on... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36928842)

I think that should read users who exceed usage thresholds.

I wish I was throttled! (1)

blahbooboo (839709) | more than 2 years ago | (#36928850)

I would LOVE to be throttled! That would mean I actually maintained connection long enough to use the data at a high speed to be in the top x% of users.

Counting down my last month until I switch to Verizon...

Re:I wish I was throttled! (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36928890)

I'm sorry to hear your mom's basement has such shitty reception of AT&T's signals. I hope things go much better for you with Verizon.

Re:I wish I was throttled! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36929008)

I would LOVE to be throttled! That would mean I actually maintained connection long enough to use the data at a high speed to be in the top x% of users.

Counting down my last month until I switch to Verizon...

Are you sure? Be careful what you wish for...

http://mobile.slashdot.org/story/11/06/21/1341248/Verizon-To-Drop-Unlimited-Data-Plans-In-Two-Weeks/ [slashdot.org]

parenting (1)

StripedCow (776465) | more than 2 years ago | (#36928858)

The worship of corporations has come so far that customers are allowing companies to spank them when their behavior goes against the established business models?

Re:parenting (1)

Macrat (638047) | more than 2 years ago | (#36928956)

Welcome to the Corporate States of America

Re:parenting (1)

Nate B. (2907) | more than 2 years ago | (#36929152)

Well, this is cheaper for the carriers to implement than building the infrastructure to support their over selling.

This is an ass-backward industry. (1)

Foxhoundz (2015516) | more than 2 years ago | (#36928864)

Instead of coming up with new and innovative ways to increase data usage while lightning the workload on the network, they punish all of their customers to save a few bucks here and there.

Re:This is an ass-backward industry. (1)

PNutts (199112) | about 3 years ago | (#36929776)

I'm an AT&T customer and I'm not being punished by this action. In fact, since I'm not in the top 5% of data users (as the others have already said) I actually might benefit from this.

Re:This is an ass-backward industry. (1)

Foxhoundz (2015516) | about 3 years ago | (#36929976)

Well, I'm referring to the telecom industry as a whole. AT&T just instated a 150 GB limit for its DSL users, a time when high-definition streaming is becoming a norm. I'm sure this is the case for a few other ISPs out there. While other countries are investing in their communications infrastructure, these companies here in the United States are trying to profit from every ounce of bandwidth they provide us. I have yet to see Verizon or AT&T experiment with high-speed networks or city-wide WiFi like Google has done in Mountain View ( http://wifi.google.com/ [google.com] ). As long as customers don't complain too much, these companies have no incentives to provide better infrastructure for its users.

Re:This is an ass-backward industry. (1)

Fnord666 (889225) | about 3 years ago | (#36930142)

I'm an AT&T customer and I'm not being punished by this action. In fact, since I'm not in the top 5% of data users (as the others have already said) I actually might benefit from this.

Eventually you will be in the top 5%.

There already is a throttle (1)

mwfischer (1919758) | more than 2 years ago | (#36928878)

It's called the AT&T network.

Entirely the wrong approach. (4, Funny)

Mia'cova (691309) | more than 2 years ago | (#36928932)

I hate how these statistics are worded to vilify these users. First, it's the top 5% vs the average of the other 95%. Hell, they don't even filter out the bottom 5% to balance that out who likely use close to zero data. By removing the top 5% from the average, the average is going to be reduced dramatically, unlike the median would be. 2nd, the services they claim as being the data hogs are the same services that are most heavily advertised. And when defined this way, even if top users find more efficient ways to get their content, eg pandora starts to cache up to 2 hours of songs in advance whenever connected to wifi, there will always be a top 5%. Without setting actual hard limits, eg 50x the median user's usage of the previous month, it's impossible to know where you stand without much greater transparency. It's also frustrating that off-peak usage and edge/hspa/lte are costed the same. 1GB on edge is obviously more destructive to the network than 1GB on LTE.

Overall, it's a system that is somewhat fair but doesn't offer the user the tools or opportunity to optimize their usage. It's in everyone's best interest to maximize available bandwidth. The networks need to make the users partners rather than enemies. For example, have an unlimited plan with peak-usage throttling and offer rebates, free music/apps/whatever bonuses to good network citizens. If there was an actual thank you and reward for downloading/pre-caching my music rather than streaming it, I'd certainly prefer that option. But if they only punish, I'm going to give them the middle-finger and abuse 'their' network.

Re:Entirely the wrong approach. (2)

TaoPhoenix (980487) | about 3 years ago | (#36929822)

"Move to the cloud! Work wirelessly from your phone line on your mobile device using data -heavy apps! Why bother downloading a song once and playing it ten times on a local player when you can stream it from your phone any time you want it! Join social networks where it will take you extra bandwidth to load all the ads from companies that sell your data on 42 meg pages for a twelve line text update! ...

"Introducing our new unlimited data plan where we throttle it without limiting it!"

So (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36928948)

So, Are they saying they can't handle all this data on there network? Did they over sell what they had?
So whats up AT&T, you just can't handle all this new internet stuff? maybe you should just stick with telephone stuff. Let others with better networks handle this other stuff.

Oblig (1)

NoKaOi (1415755) | more than 2 years ago | (#36928966)

AT&T: We have altered the deal. Pray we do not alter it again.

Do you think it's coincidence that this comes when they're buying up the competition? I have been staying with AT&T specifically because of my unlimited data plan. I'll be switching to a different provider when this takes effect, thank you very much. Unfortunately most people don't know the difference, they just know that the guy at the store said they can watch Youtube and use Facebook with plan X. I wouldn't mind non-unlimited plans if they charged a reasonable amount for overage. Unfortunately that doesn't seem to exist in the US.

Re:Oblig (0)

maxume (22995) | more than 2 years ago | (#36929252)

After this change, AT&T will be charging $0 for overages, with the caveat that the service isn't as good during the overage period.

I think the cell phone companies do very nicely for themselves, but to me, the people paying them a lot for crappy service are 50% of the problem, because there is no reason to offer better, cheaper service when people are falling all over themselves to pay for your expensive crappy service.

When telecos function as a cartel (5, Insightful)

HangingChad (677530) | more than 2 years ago | (#36928968)

AT&T has you by the nads. You have a hard time finding phone service where you don't waive your right to sue and the carrier can make changes any time they want.

There's always some pompous horses ass who jumps in to say, "If you don't like the terms, don't sign the contract." But when you can't get service anywhere without those stipulations, there is no consumer choice. The wireless carriers operate as a cartel, not a free market.

Markets are not free if they're not also fair. And when one side can change the terms of a contract at any time, it's not fair.

Re:When telecos function as a cartel (1, Informative)

roman_mir (125474) | about 3 years ago | (#36929398)

something to look at [mises.org]

The biggest myth of all in this regard is the notion that telephone service is a natural monopoly. Economists have taught generations of students that telephone service is a "classic" example of market failure and that government regulation in the "public interest" was necessary. But as Adam D. Thierer recently proved, there is nothing at all "natural about the telephone monopoly enjoyed by AT&T for so many decades; it was purely a creation of government intervention."

Once AT&T's initial patents expired in 1893, dozens of competitors
sprung up. "By the end of 1894 over 80 new independent competitors had already grabbed 5 percent of total market share . . . after the turn of the century, over 3,000 competitors existed. In some states there were over 200 telephone companies operating simultaneously. By 1907, AT&T's competitors had captured 51 percent of the telephone market and prices were being driven sharply down by the competition. Moreover, there was no evidence of economies of scale, and entry barriers were obviously almost nonexistent, contrary to the standard account of the theory of natural monopoly as applied to the telephone industry"

The eventual creation of the telephone monopoly was the result of
a conspiracy between AT&T and politicians who wanted to offer "universal telephone service" as a pork-barrel entitlement to their constituents. Politicians began denouncing competition as "duplicative," "destructive," and "wasteful," and various economists were paid to attend congressional hearings in which they somberly declared telephony a natural monopoly.

"There is nothing to be gained by competition in the local telephone business," one congressional hearing concluded.

The crusade to create a monopolistic telephone industry by govern-
ment fiat finally succeeded when the federal government used World War I as a n excuse to nationalize the industry in 1918. AT&T still operated its phone system, but it was controlled by a government commission headed by the Postmaster General. Like so many other instances of government regulation, AT&T quickly "capturedn the regulators and used the regulatory apparatus to eliminate its competitors. "By 1925 not only had virtually every state established strict rate regulation guidelines, but local telephone competition was either discouraged or explicitly prohibited
within many of those jurisdictions."

The complete demise of competition in the industry, Thierer con-
cludes, was brought about by the following forces: exclusionary licensing policies; protected monopolies for "dominant carriers"; guaranteed revenues or regulated phone companies; the mandated government policy of "universal telephone entitlement" which called for a single provider to more easily carry out regulatory commands; and rate regulation designed to achieve the socialistic objective of "universal service."

That free-market competition was the source of the telephone monopoly in the early twentieth century is the biggest lie ever told by the economics profession. The free market never "failed"; it was government that failed to permit free-market competition as it concocted its corporatist scheme to the benefit of the phone companies, a t the expense of consumers and potential competitors.

Re:When telecos function as a cartel (1, Interesting)

Duradin (1261418) | about 3 years ago | (#36929692)

So, that free market would get a dial tone out to the never-going-to-be-profitable like the failed government monopolies did?

Re:When telecos function as a cartel (2)

hedwards (940851) | about 3 years ago | (#36930234)

I see our resident troll is putting up some more copy pasta.

You do realize that the original telecommunications monopoly was created on purpose specifically because it was the only way to ensure that there was enough money to build out the infrastructure, right? I guess the other alternatives having none and government ownership were even less palatable at the time.

If you don't believe in natural monopolies, then how precisely do you explain the tendencies of corporations to buy out the competitors or run them out of business? I'm curious as to why it's in the best interest of any corporation to tolerate competitors without regulators telling them to.

Re:When telecos function as a cartel (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#36929560)

Worse yet, you don't even sign a contract. AT&T even doesn't tell you when your contract is "renewed". Make a change to your plan? Oh, that's another 2 years. We didn't tell you that? Oh, too bad.

One of our "representatives" told you you could roam but we charged you anyway? Too bad.

I'm just glad I don't use them anymore. Dishonesty is not a good policy and they've lost my business forever because of it.

Re:When telecos function as a cartel (1)

dissy (172727) | about 3 years ago | (#36929640)

AT&T has you by the nads.

This is especially true if they plan to *start* throttling users.

I might fire up the browser on my phone twice or maybe three times a week.
It takes at least 15 seconds to fully load the front Google search page!
Waiting at least a full minute for the search results to come back.
Most websites with any content end up timing out for the first couple reloads

If they already provide only 0.5k/sec or less to normal usage customers, I can't imagine how painful it will be once you get throttled...

Some of us... (4, Insightful)

U8MyData (1281010) | more than 2 years ago | (#36928994)

...are relegated to tethered phones for internet access where we are so rural as to not have a choice other than satellite and they have similar restrictions. I am not on AT&T but I thought about writing my carrier's (the big V) CEO and issuing a challenge. Go a month with your "surfing habits" with only a tethered phone and your data service plan. No cheating now, tell me if you think it is fair, usable, and how far you get while on the web before you hit your limit. It doesn't take long trust me. Even then I cut back on what I do with it. Being a systems professional, it's not unheard of to download a MS Partner ISO, or a linux distro from time to time, but now if I did that it would either kill my data allotment or my pocket book. If you can't handle the data requirements that your product offerings require, don't you think there is a problem there? Oh, and the best that big V will do is 10GB plan at an additional $80 making my monthy bill equivalent to a small car payment. I can drive my phone!

Move? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36929234)

Seriously, to hell with you people who want to live in the country but have all of the benefits of urban living.

Re:Move? (1)

PNutts (199112) | about 3 years ago | (#36929816)

Seriously, to hell with you people who want to live in the country but have all of the benefits of urban living.

Yeah, like those buildings called supermarkets where bread and meat and fruits and vegetables magically appear out of thin air.

Re:Move? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#36930132)

Don't be absurd. We're not talking about basic needs, we're talking about benefits. If you live in the city you don't complain about the lack of hiking trails downtown. If you want to hike you drive out to the country. Likewise if you live in the country and want an awesome internet connection you should drive into town and use an internet cafe.

Re:Some of us... (2)

maxume (22995) | about 3 years ago | (#36929262)

Verizon has no desire to be your only connectivity service.

They want to be your high-end, portable connectivity service, they set rates accordingly.

Re:Some of us... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#36930056)

Verizon didn't force you to live in your area.

RaceToTheBottom tag? (3, Informative)

erroneus (253617) | more than 2 years ago | (#36929002)

It's always another ratcheted step in their race to the bottom. One of them pulls some kind of stunt, waits for backlash... if it's sufficiently small enough, they keep it and their increased benefits. The others will follow suit as they see they can do it and get away with it as well.

This will keep going on and on until we see some legislation to stop it. And before anyone says "but we don't need any more laws!" I would like to hear what ELSE could make them change their behavior? No significant numbers of people will stop using their services because of it. So what else is there but law?

Re:RaceToTheBottom tag? (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#36929442)

How about lowering the licensing costs for startup competition to use the spectrum?

I already have a 20Mb pipe available at the office, which is only needed to handle the nightly traffic spikes from updating customers.

I can build a picocell gsm provider big enough to service several hundred people across 1/4 of my town for less than $10,000.
There is a market here for this type of internet connection, I'm certain I could sell it.

However, the fcc license fee for doing this would completely dwarf all other costs.

Additionally, I can easily setup a wired isp for just my neighborhood for less than $5000. (i already have most of the equipment)
The cable is cheap, but the local large isp managed to get city planning to deny my application for access to the right-of way.

Instead, I tried setting up a wireless service using 802.11.
The fcc has come knocking 3 times to measure the signal strength of my radio.

So lets start by relaxing/removing some of the existing laws before we start trying to pass more.

 

Fuck you, ATT. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36929092)

eom

am I the only person who thinks this a good thing? (3, Interesting)

enigmatichmachine (214829) | more than 2 years ago | (#36929102)

I mean, I want my service to work, because it's not overloaded all the time, and this fixes that problem without
a. Hard caps
b. overages.

seems to me, saying you'll get 3g speeds for the first 2gb/mo, and edge speeds after that is the best way to solve the problem. SO long as it's publicized. if you don't like it, too bad, I'm tired of shitty service because some folks use their hacked Iphones to download torrents all day.

that said, if the service still sucks, or the cap it too low, leave.

Re:am I the only person who thinks this a good thi (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36929174)

if you don't like it, too bad, I'm tired of shitty service because some folks use their hacked Iphones to download torrents all day.

And this is the greatest accomplishment companies like AT&T have ever managed to pull off.

You've now got fools blaming other customers instead of the shit ass product.

Re:am I the only person who thinks this a good thi (3, Insightful)

Osgeld (1900440) | more than 2 years ago | (#36929176)

or the CEO could go without his new jet this month and actually expand their spread so thin you can see though it decade old network ... many have signed into this thing as unlimited, not unlimted as long as it doesnt effect ATT, I went through the exact same thing with them on long distance and dialup, its their oldest trick

They offer you the moon for a penny and when it starts to catch up with them and bite them in the ass they change your contract and sometimes they might even bother to inform you, most of the time they just add charges and hope you wont bitch

Try telling that to a Clearwire Customer. (1)

tysonedwards (969693) | about 3 years ago | (#36929312)

I am a Clearwire Customer.
In my area, I can not get Cable or DSL. I am in a city with 180,000 people living in it, so it isn't a small place by any stretch of the imagination.

I got in bed with Clearwire after they were advertising uncapped, unthrottled, unlimited speeds faster than DSL. I signed up for a 2 year contract with them, that I can not physically leave without paying $500 to do so.

When I was getting less than stellar speeds (28Kbps Down / 5Mbps Up), I called to complain and was informed that I was in their top 5% of users on my connected tower, and that as such I am being "managed", and was told how this is significantly different than being "throttled".

When I asked how much I had used to get up to their top 5%, I found out that I was sitting at 38MB downloaded for the month. After repeated calls to attempt to figure out how this made sense that web browsing for a day using my same dial-up habits put me in their top 5%, I found out from one of their senior technicians that I was one of two people who actually use service off of my tower.

They told me that the only way to get unmanaged would be to move to an area with more customers, or convince more of my neighbors to come on board as it would shift that top 5% figure to one of them instead.

The bottom line is that at this point, it will cost me more to cancel with them on day two than it will for me to wait out my contract ($19.95 per month * 24 months = 478.80).

In the mean time, I use my iPhone as my primary method of internet connectivity to browse the web faster than I do with my Dial-up account when I really need to do something in a hurry for work.

When there is no visibility as to what those invisible limits are, than what are you going to do? If you are legitimately within the top 5% of users when using next to nothing after all...

Re:am I the only person who thinks this a good thi (1)

MobileTatsu-NJG (946591) | about 3 years ago | (#36929644)

I mean, I want my service to work, because it's not overloaded all the time, and this fixes that problem...

To be fair, we don't actually know this. There is no data, they just say "top 5%". They don't say "... that download this many bits" or "... in this particular city where it's incredibly bad.." or anything like that. They don't even actually say "We'll recoup enough resources to make YOUR connection faster".

I'm not saying this to be nitpicky, rather I'm pointing this out because AT&T is currently trying to make their case that they should be able to purchase T-Mobile. Generally speaking, though, the LAST thing I'd believe is their PR spin.

Re:am I the only person who thinks this a good thi (1)

forand (530402) | about 3 years ago | (#36929842)

Why not charge per bit instead of per bit per month. Then I would agree with you, but if they want to charge a fee per bit per month then we are just paying them to keep service low. Per bit we are paying them to improve bandwidth. If we use more they WANT to make it easier for us to use even more. But as it stands they have no interest in investing in the infrastructure, only in removing 'offending' customers who are trying to get the most out of what they are being charged for.

Re:am I the only person who thinks this a good thi (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#36930042)

I mean, I want my service to work, because it's not overloaded all the tim ...
if the service still sucks, or the cap it too low, leave.

You're not heeding your own advice, it seems.

Headline should state instead... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36929164)

that "Heaviest bandwidth users start ditching AT&T".

In other news, top 5% telecom companies depeered. (1)

DamnStupidElf (649844) | about 3 years ago | (#36929284)

A spokesman from Level3 was quoted as saying "AT&T just uses such a tremendous amount of the world's Internet bandwidth. What else could we do?"

It doesn't take much to be a "heavy" user.... (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#36929340)

I'm on an unlimited plan and recently I called AT&T to see if I could drop my plan to a lower usage plan and (hopefully) save money. The nice lady on the phone looked up my usage, laughed and said that I was "double" the usage rate of the next lower plan both in terms of voice as well as data. The thing is, yes I live by my phone. (I run my own business.) But really, I very rarely watch any videos with my phone. (Though perhaps every other month I'll watch a video on NetFlix) I mostly use my phone for e-mail and for reading various news websites -- being a news junkie -- and yet I'm a "heavy user".

So, from my point of view speaking as one who rarely uses high-data intensive applications, if you aren't a "heavy user", you don't use your phone at all ....

I thought they do it already (1)

ugen (93902) | about 3 years ago | (#36929352)

I thought they were throttling me ever since I got the contract. How else would you explain the lethargic data rates I am getting - what feels like 56Kbit modem or less. Oh, wait, someone can download too much data at those speeds and they'll throttle them *even more*? Oh, the humanity.

whew (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#36929420)

Makes me glad I use T-Mobile. Oh, wait. Sh*t.

Re:whew (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#36930112)

This. Exactly this.

Where I live, my options are:

  • Sprint -- won't let me use my own phone, unless I buy it from them. (Secondarily, none of the phones I want owrk with their network -- but even if one did... pray that they let me buy it from them, or fuck off.)
  • Verizon -- Same thing.
  • Centennial -- regional GSM operator, let you use any GSM device you like, best coverage, good national roaming agreements, reasonable data plans (but not quite as good as T-mo). Oh, wait ATT bought them out last year, and jacked up all the prices. FFFUUUUUU
  • T-mobile -- clearly the good guys among national operators, unlimited data for cheap, they haven't throttled me even in a couple months when I exceeded 70GB (as policy, they may at their option throttle excessive users -- will not cut you off or hit you with a charge!), and they even offer IPv6. Oh wait. FFFFFFUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUU
  • AT&T -- the big bad bastards, and now they face no meaningful competition.

Can anyone recommend me a good brand of anal lube, and somewhere I can buy it in bulk? Something tells me I'll be needing a lot...

ho80 (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#36929466)

Come on 3ab7...and

Wait (1)

ericartman (955413) | about 3 years ago | (#36929474)

You mean AT&T actually connects cell phone calls?, wow wish I signed up for that option, I keep getting 2 week old text messages. Maybe

barking up the wrong tree (1)

skoony (998136) | about 3 years ago | (#36929502)

the heavy users are us. facebook,twitter,slashdot,digg,add infitum. along with all the add servers needed to service a reasonably popular web page are the real bandwidth hogs. the interconnects we make suck it all up. but anyway we can blame bittorent. get a sloww connection and see what is actaully is loading regards, mike

I work for a phone company... (1, Interesting)

Charliemopps (1157495) | about 3 years ago | (#36929668)

I work for a phone company... and over the years I've made my way up the ladder to the point that now VPs will actually talk to me occasionally. Now, trust me... I'm a hardcore "information wants to be free / net neutrality / anti-software patent" type of person. Look at any of my previous posts on the subject to see this. But recently I got to sit in on a meeting with one of our top VPs who revealed what's "really" going on with this subject. While I still don't agree with bandwidth caps, throttling or traffic shaping, I think his point of view makes a little more sense to me now and is worthy of mention.

Their main concern is what they are calling "free riders." This isn't the customer, and they are in no way mad at the customer. They, in fact, wish this entire subject didn't exist. They aren't worrying about people downloading music, browsing or anything of that nature. Their first concern was You tube... and service like it. At first it was a bit annoying... you-tube setup a service where you could stream video to the customer and in exchange the customer would view adds. Youtube made ad revenue at almost no cost. The ISP saw this as an annoyance because to generate more ad revenue Youtube and service like it forced the user to re-download the same content every time they watched it... or at least made that the most convenient method for the user to use. Now the user is not only sucking up a lot more bandwidth, but they are very concerned about latency and download speeds even at peak hours. All of this to support Youtubes profit model that the ISP has no part of. Now this sort of service was annoying to them for a while, but later it got worse. Netflix put huge strains on their networks. Not only did it increase the amount of bandwidth people used, it also focused all their use to very specific time periods during the week. It was the ISP was a grocery store and some other vendor setup a cart in the middle of their store with "FREE CANDY FRIDAYS AT 8PM" The stores flooded with customers, the bathrooms are wrecked and there are lines of people at the front desk bitching that they cant get to the milk because of the swarm of children in the center isles. Despite all the media hype over Netflix, this wasn't really the last straw... The final nail in the coffin were services that most people don't know exist. In recent years many companies have started selling devices with network connections... in fact, most devices have them now. These connections offer users added services to their devices, like weather updates, firmware updates, games, trivia, TV guides, the works. But few users realize they are trading something for these services. As soon as these devices are hooked up there is almost a continuous stream of data going back to the vendors servers. They're monitoring their customers device usage and rarely even notifying. What's worse is these devices continue to communicate or at least attempt to communicate with their home service even if the vendor no longer cares to receive it. They have no vested intrest in the health of the network their equipment is hooked up to, so they use the cheapest most bandwidth intensive methods available. Why pay for software to compress your data when you don't have to pay for the bandwidth? The customer pays for that right?

These types of service were scary enough, but then Direct TV went over the top. When their receiver is hooked up to the customers internet connection and the customer trys to watch certain movies, the receiver starts downloading the movie from the home network FIRST to save the satellite provider bandwidth. So, what you have, in effect, is one ISP hijacking another ISP to deliver content. This threw the telecoms into a frenzy. All they could see was danger. If Direct TV or a local cable company had equipment hooked up to the telecoms network and the user had unlimited bandwidth and little incentive to pay much attention to how much their equipment was using, the competitor could quite easily cripple the telco.

I think the answer will never be in capping bandwidth. But I can understand their concerns. I think more transparency in how much data and what kind of data a device is using is a better option. But I have to say, I can now see what's got them so concerned.

Re:I work for a phone company... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#36929988)

If you work for a phone company, you should understand that Youtube and companies like it pay for bandwidth just like everyone else. Surely you also understand peering. You bosses are greedy idiots that would like nothing more than to double dip.

Re:I work for a phone company... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#36930010)

Your analogy sucks. You don't give money every month to shop at the grocery store. You shop there for free and use the bathrooms for free as long as you buy stuff.

Re:I work for a phone company... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#36930014)

Someone mod the parent up... a very insightful post.

I'm a 3G customer in a rural area (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#36930030)

Other than satellite (POTS lines are so bad here that I can't even get dial-up) 3G is my only option. I pay into it every month. Month after month, and now year after year. And my service continues to go DOWN in quality. VZW can't deliver 500MB of data spread over the course of an entire DAY without choking because of parasitic providers? Bulls***. They'll gladly take our money but then don't want to invest in upgrading the infrastructure.

Obscene profits over quality of service, PERIOD. Go play your violin somewhere else.

Re:I work for a phone company... (1)

kidgenius (704962) | about 3 years ago | (#36930036)

Your analogy about the store was quite faulty. A slightly better analogy would be to think of it more like a mall. So you have a vendor in one of those stores that is paying the owners of the mall a fee to rent out space there. Now, if that vendor starts doing stuff like offering "FREE CANDY!" and it floods the mall with people, to the detriment of other patrons and shop owners, then yes, that's a problem. But, there are ways to fix that though. In addition, companies like netflix aren't hijacking a connection. They pay for their internet service so they can stream you video. And they almost certainly pay through the nose for the amount of data they push out onto the network. Youtube does the same thing. As does Google, Microsoft, Apple and any other cloud based service. Those guys are all paying a metric farkload of money. If you as an ISP can't afford to provide a service then you have 3 choices. Either raise the price to make more money, reduce the service to a point where you can, or a combination of the 2. The BEST analogy is something we've had for quite sometime, and that's the power companies. For instance, if I want to run 30 AC units off of my line, I pay for every kWh I use. If someone comes out with a new device that uses tons of power, they aren't "leaching" off my power company, as I am paying for that usage. The power company doesn't care how I use my power or what I use it for, as I am paying them all the same. In addition, I get better rates if I use power at lower demand times. If I choose to watch Netflix at 8pm, it sucks, but so does running my AC at 3PM in the afternoon. I can also go over to plans that give me a better rate if I keep my kW usage below certain levels at any given point, just like if I was to keep my total downloads to less than 5mb/s at any time. These kind of options help the power company meet their goals of trying to supply a finite resource at any given point in time. If I decide to reduce my usage by switching over to lower wattage lights, that means I use less juice and it pays more. This would be analogous to using compression schemes on my data. The power company and the way they operate would be a perfect analogue for an ISP.

Wind does it here in Canada (3, Informative)

nebular (76369) | about 3 years ago | (#36929676)

Wind Mobile does this in Canada. They say you have unlimited but if you go over 2GB, I think, they de-prioritize you and you get throttled if the network needs you throttled.

I agree with it completely, so long as they tell everyone exactly where the line is

Re:Wind does it here in Canada (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#36930204)

It's over 5 GB, not 2GB. Although you do get throttled to a pretty slow speed: 512 kb down and 128 kb up.

Source: http://www2.windmobile.ca/WIND%20Docs/Fair-Usage-Policy.pdf

"AT&T To Start Data Throttling Heaviest Users" (0)

Tetsujin (103070) | about 3 years ago | (#36929716)

Once we explained to your mom that this was about data throttling and not erotic asphyxiation, she complained bitterly that this would interfere with her ability to post to the Craigslist personals section, and additionally objected to having been the first one singled out by AT&T for this.

I'm excited about this. (2)

whois (27479) | about 3 years ago | (#36929734)

I'm mostly excited about all the choices we have here in America and the fact that all of them give you the same bandwidth throttling option. In a world out there filled with choice it's important to know that we can go to any provider and get the same thing no matter what we want.

What a line of bullshit. (1)

Montezumaa (1674080) | about 3 years ago | (#36929794)

So, AT&T is telling us that we(the customers) are causing harm to the network by using what we were fucking promised. AT&T states that we, as "unlimited" customers, will see a decrease in speed, if we are found to be using "too much data". What the fuck is "too much data"? We don't want to hear about fucking percentages; we want hard data.

I found it even more hilarious when AT&T, in this press release states the following:

"The bottom line is our customers have options. They can choose to stay on their unlimited plans and use unlimited amounts of data, but may experience reduced speeds at some point if they are an extraordinarily heavy data user. If speed is more important, they may wish to switch to a tiered usage plan, where customers can pay for more data if they need it and will not see reduced speeds."

http://www.att.com/gen/press-room?pid=20535&cdvn=news&newsarticleid=32318&mapcode=corporate [att.com]

So, even though we are trying to use what we paid for, and that high usage is causing AT&T a lot of network problems, we will not be affected by the throttling if we pay more money. Excuse me? Either the network cannot handle the traffic, or it can't. With AT&T making almost $20 billion USD, in profit each year, I see no reason why any of us should be paying more for a service we were promised, contractually, would be "unlimited".

What is the excuse going to be? "Limited spectrum"? First off, AT&T is the largest hoarder of spectrum in the United States, if not the world. Secondly, spectrum is no boundary. If AT&T cannot handle the traffic on its network, then it needs to install more towers and improve the overall infrastructure. The number of wireless subscribers that can be handled in a given area is spectrum, multiplied by the number of towers in the area. Of course, AT&T only wants people to focus on the spectrum portion of the equation.

AT&T failed to sufficiently plan for the increased demand for mobile data. Coupled with that, AT&T has failed to completely roll out UMTS/HSDPA over their entire network. severely lagging behind Verizon. I still have yet to see a 3G indicator show up on my phone within 25 miles from where I live. I live close to an interstate highway, and in the metro Atlanta area. Yet, Verizon(yet another company unprepared, but not quite as badly), has EVDO out here, and it has been out here for years.

With all of this, AT&T has also refused to roll out DSL and there are no other options for "broadband" where I live. So, I am a little confused as to what the hell I am supposed to do for data access on my phone. Use one of the non-existent "hotspots" in my area, or use my non-existent DSL service? Oh, wait, AT&T doesn't want us to focus on this problem either.

I have yet to see a commercial that states, directly from AT&T, just how behind the company is in meeting the demands on its customers. All I am seeing is some nice music, happy people, and pretty pictures, while AT&T uses a plethora of euphemisms to describe how it will fuck us, and its employees over, when it takes over T-Mobile. Oh, shit, sorry, we are not supposed to pay attention to that.

Well, you may have not noticed any of this, but your brain did.

AT&T To Start Data Throttling Heaviest Users (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#36930146)

In true Slashdot fashion, I didn't read the article or the summary, only the title. But frankly, I think this is a great idea since obesity is such a serious problem in the United States. If AT&T begins throttling data for these heaviest users then maybe they'll actually go outside and get some exercise. Though to be fair, AT&T should base it on something like BMI so as not to penalize users who happen to be tall but who are not overweight.

What I don't understand is (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#36930264)

There is plenty of bandwidth on the wired side. If you need more, there is always data compression and even plenty of dark fiber laying around,provided it was you who laid it first. Renting it out means spending your money on rental fees.

AT&T bought the big one when it signed up for iPhone and they figure that t-mobile is going to solve all their problems. Wrong.

The loyal clientele is going to take them to the toilette where they are going to get the beating out of their lives when the new idevices and 3G/4G devices fold up their network and you can not even make a phone call on it.

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