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If you’re a longtime AT&T iPhone user whose unlimited data plan was grandfathered in when AT&T stopped offering unlimited plans last year, a brand new twist on your plan might seem like a pretty significant limitation after all.

On Friday AT&T announced that, starting October 1, it will begin throttling data delivery speeds to the “top 5%” of heaviest data users.” This means their experience of the mobile Internet over AT&T’s network will slow to a crawl.

According to AT&T, this measure is a “step to manage exploding demand for mobile data,” because “many experts agree the country is facing a serious wireless spectrum crunch.”

AT&T says the throttling will only be temporary; full speed will be restored to throttled customers at the start of the each billing cycle.

In the meantime, throttled users can technically still move as much data as they want across the carrier’s network — just at very slow speeds, a process that most smartphone users would probably find unacceptable.

AT&T says it will provide some warning prior to throttling: “Before you are affected, we will provide multiple notices, including a grace period.”

But where exactly is the line that, when crossed, might put an AT&T “unlimited” customer at risk of throttling?


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