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Study Finds Throttling Unlimited Data Plans Doesn’t Save Bandwidth

Submitted by on February 27, 2012 – 11:01 amNo Comment

AT&T is coming under renewed criticism after a study from wireless analysts Validas showed that the throttling of unlimited data plan customers does nothing to reduce bandwidth usage. BGR reports that the study suggested the only effect of such throttling is to push customers to tiered plans, where they continue to use the same amount of bandwidth.

“When we look at the top 5% of data users, there is virtually no difference in data consumption between those on unlimited and those on tiered plans—and yet the unlimited consumers are the ones at risk of getting their service turned off,” Validas wrote in its report. “So it’s curious that anyone would think the throttling here represents a serious effort at alleviating network bandwidth issues. After all, Sprint does seemingly fine maintaining non-throttled unlimited data for its customers.”

While all of the major carriers engage in some form of throttling, AT&T has received the most complaints after starting to limit service below 2GB of data per payment period. Verizon throttles the top 5% of data users, and T-Mobile throttles after 5GB in a billing cycle. The practice is arguably to address the bandwidth crunch that many providers are facing after the explosion of smartphones and streaming data, but appears now to be more profit driven.

What do you think? Should AT&T back off?

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