When AT&T introduced its new tiered data plans in 2010, it only kept the unlimited plan for original iPhone owners who didn’t choose to join a new plan. As time passed, AT&T announced in July of 2011 that they would begin throttling unlimited users who fell under the top 5% of heaviest data users. On average, it takes around 10GB to reach the top 5%.

However, over the last few months, many users have reported AT&T is throttling their unlimited data plan when they’re only at 2GB of data used. A southern Californian man took action and sued AT&T in small claims court. A judge ruled in the customer’s favor, who was awarded $850…

Spaccarelli said his phone is being throttled after he’s used 1.5 gigabytes to 2 gigabytes of data within a new billing cycle. Meanwhile, AT&T provides 3 gigabytes of data to subscribers on a tiered plan that costs the same — $30 per month.

The unlimited data plan costs $30 per month and AT&T’s new 3GB data plan is priced the same. Many users feel that it’s unfair to be throttled at 2GB, when users under the 3GB plan aren’t throttled.

Currently, a surprising 17 million users are still on AT&T’s unlimited data plan — which represents about half of their network. That means a large amount of customers could also challenge AT&T in small claims court.

There’s no word if AT&T will appeal the California court’s decision to award the upset customer $850.

The court chose to award the man $85 for each of the 10 months left on his AT&T contract. He earned almost a year of free phone service. Not bad.

Verizon and T-Mobile also throttle users, but are much gentler with their policies.

Are you among the customers being throttled?


  • I get throttled every month since this started but I’m to the point that I don’t care anymore because once they throttle me I just use as much data as I want because they can’t slow me down anymore.

    • Anonymous

      I’ve gotten the text warning saying I was getting close a few times, but they never throttled me. If the day ever comes that they do throttle me thats when I start up the biggest data hogging thing that I can use while throttled and just let it run 24/7.

      I know I was over 5Gb this past period and was not throttled. Different areas, different limits.

  • Anonymous

    Class action please

    • Anonymous

      If you have a class action each member of the class will see much less than $850. It’ll take years and the lawyers are the only ones who make out. Small claims court is the best way to go. You’re not allowed to have lawyers represent you. The judge is your jury and cases are heard much faster. The max amount you can sue for in small claims differs by state usually between $1000-$2000. Also you will not be allowed to be included in any class action suits and if you’re already a part of one you probably forfeited your right to sue on your own for that issue.

      • The advantage in this case, for class action, is that it will stop the throttling for the remainder of your plan/contract/period. That alone is better than even the $850.
        Now, the question is…. Is he being throttled even after the lawsuit was won?

        I do not want to cancel my service/plan with ATT, i just want them to honor their portion of unlimited.

  • We need to have a class action lawsuit to teach them a lesson.

  • I’m being throttled every month too!!! Class action lawsuit please!

  • i still have unlimited data 😀

    • Anonymous

      so does the person in this article…which is why the lawsuit was filed.

  • I haven’t been throttled yet, but my roommate has. If they do throttle me, I’m just going to keep using up data all day/night and leave my phone going till the end of the month.

  • Anonymous

    Question: Do we have unlimted data & unlimited data at a specific speed?

    I have the unlimited data plan as well. I havent been throttled and pray i dont. I assume AT&T would just say you do have unlimited data…we are just going to give it to you slowly. Are they technically covered? Why do i need a paralegal just to surf the net on my phone? This upsets me.

  • I have been throttled for the last 3 months at around 1.5GB. I’d join the class action suit.

    • Anonymous

      Ive gotten the same rude response. Yet they (AT&T) couldn’t respond when I ask ” sir, when I sign up for unlimited , it advertised unlimited 3G , doesn’t 3G determine the speed with in itself? , and by throttling me to edge speeds , doesn’t that classifys as false advertising” , he ignored the questions , and started reding my data consumption. Plus it’s a given we consume a lot of data, that why we got unlimited

      • Anonymous

        Same here happened to me when i ask that same Question then the at&t Man just transferred me to another AT&T person and took for ever to pick up the phone and they said they will reset my Data speed which they didn’t its the same slow speed. my friend has the same phone on a 2 gig data plan and his data speed is so much faster.
        AT&T SUCKS!

  • Anonymous

    I KNEW THIS CRAP WASN’T RIGHT. IDB, when you get wind of a authentic site to sign up for a class action lawsuit , could you PLEEEAASSE share?

  • Anonymous

    Get Zumocast or something like that, turn off wifi and just stream movies from your pc. Could also run torrents. Stick it to Man!

    • zumocast doesn’t work for the iphone anymore

      • Anonymous

        Hadn’t used it in a long time the encoding gave it a long lag. Anything similar, but maybe a bit faster?

  • Class action please

  • Lets all do this!!!! Maybe we can bankrupt ATT and be free for ever!!!!!

  • Anonymous

    Why do we pay AT&T for “Unlimited data” If there is a limit to the “Unlimited Data”! I use Netflix everyday since the 3gs & iphone 4/s came out because i still have “Unlimited Data” but recently i got throttled for going over 3 gigs of data in 4 days!
    Did the definition of Unlimited Data changed to 3gigs limited only?
    My contract says unlimited which means there is No LIMIT to the unlimited Data! WTF? Am i right!
    AT&T Went from nice affordable company to a Money hungry unreasonable Gritty AHole Company!
    I know i’m right But what do you think Am i right or am i Wrong?

  • Look, I’m big on law and if the words “unlimited data plan” and “data throttling” exist in the same contact then that contract is now null and void. People need to learn that two contradicting terms for the same covered part of a contract make it void. I told AT&T already if they throttle me then I will cancel my contract free of charge… they backed down. I have now used 20gb this month and no throttling as of yet.

    • I don’t believe that, after a phone call, they stopped throttling you??

  • I recommend this course of action: I called AT$T and told the customer service rep to let me talk to their boss. I told their boss in a very calm and friendly, but forceful manner, that throttling my data speed was unacceptable, and I was going to give them 3 choices and I would proceed accordingly.

    1) Leave my data consumption alone for the remainder of my contract (June 2012).

    2) Let me out of my contract with no ETF’s (Early Termination Fees) on all of the lines on my account.

    3) Pay a corporate lawyer (probably $1,000/hr) to represent them in small claims court in the county of my residence for violating the contract.

    After about 10 min on hold, I was informed that they would let me out of my contract with no ETF’s on all of my lines. I requested that the answer be put in writing and then proceded to port my numbers over to brand new Sprint iPhones with unlimited data.

    They KNOW they’re on shakey ground. Don’t be afraid to call them on it.

    • Anonymous

      I am surprised by their decision. They must really have some problems to choose loosing customers rather than upgrade towers.

  • does the throttling begin when you get the -dear ATT user please use wifi- text message from AT&T?

  • They don’t throttle tiered data users because they’re trying to get unlimited users to switch over to a more expensive plan. They switched my unlimited plan to 4 gb. I usually use 10 gbs but get charged $10 for every addional gb. I’m paying $100 just in data but it pissese off the way they dO things do I don’t care and keep hogging the data. And since I live out in the country there’s no Internet I can have, satellite by at&t but with a bandwith of 1 mbs it’s not worth it.

  • I called At&t and they told me the something they said that I have the unlimited data plan. but they are going to slow it down I only use 3 or 4gb we have to do something ppl.

  • I have the original unlimited data, and i was doing great now i am slowed. I was using 3.38mbps on any given day now i am reduced to 0.20mbps.

  • Wick Beavers

    I really despise ATT now that they are throttling my unlimited data plan.
    Can’t wait til my contract is up!