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Data throttling is a tactic used by telecom companies to reduce the speeds you get on your devices. This can be very frustrating if you are an AT&T customer and you use plans like the AT&T gigapower plan or the AT&T prepaid plan to access unlimited or high speed kpbs.
Technically data throttling and deprioritization are two different things. Data throttling is when you have an AT&T plan with a data cap and you go over that threshold. If you pay for a certain amount of data each month and you surpass it, for the remainder of the month AT&T will significantly slow down your speeds. If you have an unlimited plan this is not supposed to happen.
However, deprioritization can happen to anyone and in effect it means the exact same thing: your data is slowed down.
The reason for this is that major carriers tend to share towers so if you are in a busy area or you are using an AT&T tower and then your cell phone pings off a tower that’s owned by Verizon Wireless or T-Mobile, you are not as big a priority as a Verizon Wireless customer or a T-Mobile customer. The results? They significantly throttle your speeds and slow it down.
Unfortunately, this type of data throttling can happen to anyone no matter where you are, without warning, and at any time.
There are ways that you can check to see if things like your internet are being throttled by running an internet speed test, and then using a VPN to run another speed test and see if there is a difference. If your network is experiencing data throttling, you should see the speed dramatically improve if you are using a VPN which masks your location. If there’s no change then it is probably not data throttling or deprioritization. The same type of test can be run on any type of mobile device if you do a speed test for your phone.
AT&T does not actually provide text in your contract that specifies the terms data throttling or deprioritization. However, it is still in your AT&T user agreement when you sign up for a new plan or renew an existing plan.
AT&T specifically says that with an unlimited plan they reserve the right to still temporarily slow your speed that anytime whenever their network is busy. They don’t have to provide you with any warning or explain what it means specifically for Network to be busy.
They also stipulate that plans with a specific amount of data will be slowed down or deprioritized once the amount of data you pay for with your plan has been met during a billing cycle. AT&T claims that they will text you if you don’t have an unlimited plan when you reach the 75% mark for your available data so that you have some sort of warning. The deprioritization goes away once you move into the next billing cycle.
AT&T has been fined because of the discrepancies between what are marketed as unlimited plans and data throttling. The reason for this is that they don’t make it clear in their marketing information which can qualify as deceptive marketing practices, and they also fail to make it clear in the actual language of your contract.
What should you do if you believe AT&T is throttling your data? What can you do when a new billing cycle has started but they are still giving you slow speeds?
AT&T customer service has multiple numbers you can use depending on how you want to reach out to them. If, for example, you are using a cell phone through which you have AT&T service, you can dial 611.
If you are not using a song that is linked through AT&T you can reach out to customer service using the mobility support number at: 800.331.0500.
If you have questions about throttling on your AT&T prepaid or AT&T gigapower plan, or throttling with your hotspot plan, you can contact AT&T customer service at 800.288.2020.
If you have proof from the different tests that data throttling has taken place, AT&T might be more willing to listen to you and potentially offer a resolution. You can review more ways to contact AT&T here.
If you have tried to reach out to AT&T customer service and they won’t help you or they have not given you a satisfactory resolution, you do have another option. You can use arbitration.
Arbitration is a form of dispute resolution where you can bring your dispute against AT&T before an independent arbitrator. Your AT&T contract is designed to prevent you from using things like class action lawsuits against the company but it allows for things like arbitration.
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