Last updated: March 3, 2012 - 5:40pm
Sometimes, all-you-can-eat does not mean all you can eat. Smartphone users who try to get the most out of their devices are learning exactly what that means, even while paying for plans that promise unlimited consumption.
Some of the nation’s largest wireless phone companies are getting around those plans by slowing down a smartphone’s Internet transfer speeds for heavy users. The practice serves as a backdoor limit of data by making some downloads impossible. The wireless companies say they are trying to find a fair way to manage the swelling demand for mobile data, but consumers are feeling cheated and suspect some carriers are trying to lure them into higher-cost data plans.
Parul Desai, policy counsel for telecommunications at Consumers Union, an advocacy group, said carriers had not shown evidence for how and when their networks needed to be throttled. “Is this an issue of where you’re trying to squeeze consumers into limited data plans?” she said. “Are you just trying to move people over to higher-priced plans?”
David Isenberg, who worked at AT&T Labs Research for 12 years before leaving to start an independent telecom consulting firm, said that carriers could reduce network speeds based on the states of their networks, not specific customer usage. He said carriers could measure their networks in real time to know when there was congestion and when throttling was necessary. “That would be a slightly less stupid way of managing their capacity,” he said.
- A Week in Barcelona
- A loophole means unlimited data for AT&T iPhone
- Verizon Offers a Trade-Off on Data Plans
- Online bandwidth hogs to be cut off at trough?
- Consumers wary of metered plans
- Getting What You Pay For on the Mobile Internet
- Wireless data plans put spotlight on FCC billing protection
- Dear AT&T: Soon We'll All Be Data Hogs
- Analyst: Carriers set to introduce usage-based mobile data pricing
- Is Throttling Smartphones Pointless? Study Suggests So
- If 2 GB is excessive, why is AT&T selling 3-GB mobile data plans?
- AT&T relents on unlimited data throttling, increases cap to 3GB for HSPA+ and 5GB for LTE
- New AT&T smartphone users won't get one-price Net
- New iPhone Carriers Aim To Control, Or Profit From, Mobile Data Consumption
- Faster cellphones to bring a wave of new services and charges