AT&T Ending Unlimited Data Plans

    March 1, 2012

A report from the Wall Street Journal says that AT&T had decided to eliminate unlimited data plans, saying that it will no longer let customers use more than a set amount of data per month without penalty.

Under a new policy, AT&T will slow download speeds for unlimited 3G and 4G smartphone customers who exceed 3 gigs and 4G LTE users who exceed 5 gigs of data in a month. AT&T had previously been slowing speeds, or throttling, customers who were in the top 5% of data users in their respective market, sometimes without even notifying them.

We had hoped that the throttling conversation had ended once AT&T unveiled their tier pricing structure. But here we are again.

AT&T is having a very hard time managing the capacity on its network in the face of heavy data consumption by iPhone users and a limited supply of wireless spectrum. The carrier is spending billions to build out a new 4G network that can handle more data traffic. AT&T, and other carriers, has been pushing Congress and the FCC to release more licenses for spectrum. Spectrum from old analog television broadcasting signals is the main need that a lot of the main carriers are looking to when talking about expanding.

In 2008 during a wireless spectrum auction, AT&T bought 227 licenses totaling $6.6 billion in the 12 MHz bandwidth rang. In February, congress approved a bill to auction off more spectrum.