Unlimited Data*

I’m really getting fed up with all of these services offering “Unlimited Data” with a little asterisk next to it. When you finally make your way down to the fine print, you end up learning that your unlimited data plan is anything but.

AT&T

It seems like AT&T is the ringleader in this mess—starting first by removing the unlimited data plans for iPhone and continuing now by adding a data cap to their Internet customers! You heard me right, as of May 2nd, AT&T now caps Internet usage on both DSL and Uverse accounts! For DSL customers, the cap is set at 150GB of data transfer per month. Uverse customers get 250GB of data transfer. It’s not clear whether the TV portion of Uverse is included in the 250GB. In either case, AT&T will send you two warnings if you exceed these caps. On the third time, you will be billed $10 for each 50GB you go over.

When asked why they did this, AT&T’s response was:

AT&T has experienced a dramatic increase in the amount of data that is sent and received over its wireline broadband networks. This dramatic increase is driven primarily by a small fraction of our customers. In fact, the top 2% of customers use about 20% of the total capacity on our network. A single high traffic user can utilize the same amount of data capacity as 19 typical households. Lopsided usage patterns can cause congestion at certain points in the network, which can slow Internet speeds and interfere with other customers’ access to and use of the network.

For complete details on AT&T’s new data caps, check out ATT.com.

Verizon

Fortunately, for those of you lucky enough to get FiOS, you don’t have to worry! When it comes to fiber optic Internet lines directly to your home, Verizon got it right. Each home is outfitted with a direct fiber line to Verizon which minimizes slowdowns and network congestion which has caused AT&T to limit their customers.

The same might not be said about Verizon Wireless when the iPhone 5 comes out. Rumors are abound that Verizon will cap their wireless data plans for smartphones soon. Of course we’ve heard this before, so maybe nothing will come out of it, but the thought is still daunting. It’s a fair statement to say that most people will never reach a data cap, but just the thought of having a limitation there is agonizing. Nobody wants to be surprised with a cell phone bill that has suddenly increased due to unknown overages.

According to Mobiledia, this rumor looks to be coming true.

Sprint

Sprint appears to have the best “Unlimited” service you can get. According to one of their commercials, “only Sprint gives you true unlimited” and it would seem so. Nowhere on their website do they say anything about data caps, speed throttling, etc.

httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NlkT7gRM0xo

My two cents

If you’re going to cap your data plans, do it. But, don’t sell them as unlimited just because your definition is that your customers won’t reach the cap, thereby making it feel unlimited! To me, this is false advertising at its worst.

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