You probably remember how AT&T last year began throttling the top 5% of its data users with the aim of offering a more stable data connection to the rest of its users, but what does that actually mean in the real world?

While AT&T no-longer offers an unlimited plan there are plenty of iPhone users who have been allowed to keep their old unlimited plan as part of their upgrades only to receive an SMS saying they have been throttled. The question is, what does that throttling actually mean?

AppAdvice decided to put that to the test, and they’ve compiled a video showing the affects a throttled AT&T 3G connection can have on the most basic of iPhone tasks…

The results are pretty dramatic, with loading of Google Maps and web pages being painfully slow. If you’re ever on GPRS or EDGE connections with your iPhone then you’ll know what to expect, but when you’re on what appears to be a solid 3G connection then the results are pretty jarring.

The video also demonstrates just how much we rely on our data connections these days, especially with our always-connected iPhones. It also shows just how important it is for carriers to at the very least get their 3G networks working properly, with 4G networks set to become a necessity as our hunger for data continues to grow.

  • i Wonder how much usage needs to occur before your throttled..

    • Anonymous

      Thats relative per month looking at that text message

    • They throttled me after 4gb

      • KewlDewd

        I’m just over 6gb with 2 days left in the billing cycle and no throttle. I’ve had higher months, but not often. Never received a text threatening throttle, either.

      • Yea weird.i used almost 3GB last month and about 5GB the month before..

      • 8gb and got throttled… :/

  • I’ve been dealing with this, via Verizon. I’m not even within 500 MB, and I’m being slowed down. My 3G drops out, then turning into an O. From my understanding, this means 56K, or what we refer to as Dial-Up. The fact that we let these carriers do this, is beyond logic and reason, but carriers can’t kill us for using the services that we’ve paid for. It’s unreal, fair, and not what we pay for.

    • Dude you arnt being throttled your just in a crappy service area Happens to my sister all The time at home

  • AT&T honestly pisses me off. I have unlimited data and they slowed down my Internet after my second day into my cycle. I know for a fact I ddnt use that much Internet and they said I went over the 2 gig limit. That whole month using my iPhone was hell!

    • Anonymous

      You are not lying, I really think At&T uses past and current cycle usage to throttle folks. I was told on my 2nd day of my cycle used over 30 GB , even tho my iPhone says I used lessed than 2gb. It’s sum fuc kery going on at at&t

  • Complete BS that companies are doing this. Must be for people who have unlimited data only right?

  • I got the same text. When I looked at my usage at AT&T’s website, I didnt even reach the 2GB usage for the billing cycle.

  • I spend most of my time at work or at home and have wi-fi in both places, but any time I’m out and about, I’m listening to fstream, Pandora, the NPR app, or watching Hulu. I still have an old unlimited plan but I’ve still never gone over 3 gigabytes or so. I haven’t gotten any texts from AT&T or experienced any noticeable throttling.

    What are the 5% doing to consume so much data? Is there some superfun but data-intensive thing I’m missing out on?

    • Yes. SlingPlayer. I use 10-15 GB per month on AT$T. No problems with throttling yet.

      • Anonymous

        Sorry I use veetle dot com , no hardware or jailbreak needed

  • Calvin Moon

    I wonder if the “Top 5%” threshold will increase after people start jumping into the LTE data plans. Currently I get throttled @ 2GB ;P

    Any thoughts? The only reason I’m still on unlimited data plan is for this to happen.

  • mike76618

    Same thing happening to me…. And I’m using my iPhone 3g. I don’t think there is any way I could have joined the top 5% with this slow phone. My guess is that they’re using past billing cycles. Or for whoever used to tether in the past. Does anyone know if they can take the throttling off?

  • I have an unlimited plan and I’m being throttled down to .05 Mbs where it was 2.87 Mbs on 3G. This is usually occurring after downloading 4gb of data and on about the 20th day of the billing cycle. Part of this my be based on location. Where there are more users the top 5% may be lower or more likely to be enforced.

    • KewlDewd

      Probably so. I’m in a big city and I’ve had months of well over 5gb. Never been throttled.

  • I received that text in November. During that month I exceed 10gb. Since then I have slowed down dramatically and I just checked and my data usage is only at 500mb and my next cycle is in 10 days. I did not notice any slowdown although. I do live in the ny/nj area where AT&T’s 3G smokes Verizon’s 3G network anyday. Just tested now with speedtest app and I got 3.2 down and 1.9 up. My girlfriends Verizon 4S can’t even come close to that. I’m on a regular 4 also. So maybe they are forgiving with the throttling cause I don’t think I’m being throttled anymore.

  • The only time I got this message was when I used 5gb in 1 month.

  • im surprise there is no jailbreak tweak to hide you from this.. if its even possible to do such a thing?

    • I understand you can while tethering, But how could you hide data usage at all from your provider?

    • I understand you can while tethering, But how could you hide data usage at all from your provider?

  • I have a feeling someone is going to find something wrong with this and sue them. I’m less then 1gb and i already got the message saying im close to the top 5%?!

  • it already happened to me, i live in NYC and it only took less than 3gb to jump into those 5%
    att said that it depends on the area where i live