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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.