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AT&T Explains Data Throttling, Says Users Are to Blame

AT&T Explains Data Throttling, Says Users Are to Blame

AT&T’s data throttling practices have seen a great deal of attention recently, due to the carrier crippling the speeds of unlimited data plan holders after just 2GB of monthly data usage. BGR points to a report issued yesterday by AT&T explaining the practice. Unfortunately, their explanation involves blaming their customers.

BRG reports (emphasis is my own):

Senior EVP of AT&T technology and network operations John Donovan wrote on a company blog that data traffic on AT&T’s network has grown a staggering 20,000% over the past five years. Usage has doubled between 2010 and 2011 according to the executive, due in large part to the proliferation of smartphones. AT&T sold more smartphones in the fourth quarter of 2011 than in any other quarter in its history. And because its smartphone subscribers use so much data, AT&T seems to suggest it has no choice but to put measures such as data throttling in place.

But wait, there’s more! It gets even better. Once Donovan has finished complaining that their customers use too much data, he then goes on to spread the blame towards too many new customers signing on with AT&T, and that too many users are upgrading to smartphones.

Ok, Donovan. That’s all well and good, but I missed the part where that’s my problem. Or any AT&T customer’s problem for that matter. I simply cannot understand how it’s fair for AT&T to punish, or even bully their customers due to their own failures.

The fact of the matter is that this is not the fault of AT&T’s customers. They just want to use what they paid for, and what AT&T so eagerly wanted to collect their money for. It’s AT&T’s fault. It’s not like AT&T is going broke. They have money. They could be investing more of that money into improving their network by adding new data pipes and additional towers to prevent congestion. No matter how much Donovan says AT&T is investing, the fact of the matter is that they can do better.

But even if there was nothing that AT&T could be doing about the problem, it’s just not responsible for a company to blame its customers for problems like this. In fact, it’s just plain pathetic. How about “We’re sorry, unlimited plan holders. We didn’t plan for the future. That’s our problem.” Would that be so hard to say?

And instead of throttling data after a scant 2GB of monthly use in an attempt to bully their customers into switching to tiered data plans, why not simply make those plans more appealing? Offer discounts and incentives? Surely that would be a fairer and much more reasonable response than blaming your customers.

So typical. AT&T wants customers. They want to collect money from those customers. But they don’t want to do what it takes to ensure those customers are happy, and that they get what they’ve paid for. Typical corporate arrogance. Anti-consumer nonsense of the highest order.

If you think you can stomach it, Donovan’s comments in full can be read on AT&T’s Innovation Space blog.

  1. Anonymous says:

    This is a really stupid, cheap, mud-slinging “article” pandering to like-minded big-business haters.

    “But they don’t want to do what it takes to ensure those customers are happy, and that they get what they’ve paid for.”

    This is horse puckey. What about their bid to buy T-Mobile in part to broaden their bandwidth? Oh no. You boys and your government cronies shot that one down real good.

    There’s no punishment going on here. Just some temporary apportioning as necessary until they can indeed increase their bandwidth. The chicken or the egg had to come first. Were they working all along to expand their pipes? Most likely. But when the iPhone burst upon the scene, NO ONE could have predicted the volume of demand for smartphones.

    And they can’t just snap their fingers no matter HOW much money they have and simply throw some magical switch to provide the bandwidth. It takes lots and lots of expensive infrastructure as well as skilled workers as well as a lot of permitting on all sorts of levels to allow all the new equipment to be installed.

    Has anyone ever seen a 20-something telephone company worker? 30-something? 40-something? Try 50-60 something old guys who are still working and are the only guys left who know how to handle all the technology and who can actually hold down a job.

    AT&T will weather this storm. It’s just going to take a while. Data throttling is a small price to pay in the interim.

    1. Harold Haynes says:

      Spoken like someone who works for AT&T…  The bottomline is AT&T sold us unlimited data for a price.  Then they changed the rules mid contract.  My contract is up this summer and I will be leaving.  Good riddance AT&T.

      1. Anonymous says:

        I’m an AT&T customer, you idiot. You won’t be missed.

        1. No need for hostility. Let’s keep things civil.

          1. Harold Haynes says:

            You can’t keep down a good troll.  Anyone that defends AT&T’s abhorrent practices are suspect. 

          2. Anonymous says:

            I’m not hostile. Just calling a spade a spade.

            But your slanted article didn’t exactly dissuade this type of stupid grumbling, when you neglected to quote the following from the linked article:

            “Donovan offers no real solution, however he does stress AT&T’s continued investment in its network. “AT&T has invested more than $95 billion in its wireless and wireline networks over the past five years,” Donovan wrote. “In 2011, we invested $20 billion in our networks, and completed more than 150,000 wireless network improvements. And we expect to invest about $20 billion again in 2012 with a focus on wireless, including more 4G LTE deployment, the roll-out of distributed antenna systems in key venues across the U.S. and adding even more AT&T Wi-Fi Hot Spots to the nation’s largest Wi-Fi network.
            “AT&T’s plan to address network issues by acquiring T-Mobile USA from Deutsche Telecom for $39 billion wascanceled late last year after the United States Justice Department sued to block the deal.”

          3. Dataslave says:

            At&t is throttling you whiter you want to acknowledge it or not, I went from Walking along at 3g speed to falling into the tar pits “on 3g” And I’m one of the few who still has the unlimited plan,Grandfathered in and all. At&t Is the scum of the earth and If you can get your hands on any of the leaks read there shoddy and extremely suspicious business practices, educate yourself and stop being a dick hole.

          4. I disagree with him also. But we don’t need to resort to name calling here. Let’s keep it friendly.

          5. Anonymous says:

            You call BOTH mine and his “hostility”? Sheesh.

          6. There’s simply no need to hurl insults, that’s all.

          7. Dataslave says:

            You post an article That is meant to get people rilled up and you bitch about it? Delete my comment or not unless I’m getting super creative about it then leave off.

          8. Anonymous says:

            Now HERE’S hostility for you, JGK. ME get educated, Dataslave? How about YOU learning how to SPELL!!

            I think these jokers are PAID to spew! Funny way to make a living.

  2. Aylett2004 says:

    I stay with AT&T only grudgingly, and look forward to the day when it becomes nothing more than a dumb data-pipe provider. In fact, i’d pay quite a bit out of pocket (think, a few thousand dollars) to buy them, fire everyone, and turn their infrastrcture over to apple/google. Anyone wanna start a collection?

    1. Rosie from Calabria says:

      Hey dont blame the employees. Just fire the CEO’s and High-levels.  The employees had nothing to do with this situation.. In fact, San Antonio based AT&T likes getting rid of as many people as they can.. I agree with ALEC M. This is a terrible situation.  I cant wait to see what they do about it.

  3. AlecM says:

    Whatever they are saying – any excuse for throttling to that level at 2GB is just disingenuous … throttling to, say, Edge levels would have given their claims some credibility (or holding off to at least 3G to match one of their limited tiers)

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