AT&T relents on 'unlimited data' plan limits
AT&T Inc. said it will start slowing the data speeds of customers with unlimited wireless plans once they reach a certain threshold, seeking to cope with soaring mobile traffic and limited network capacity.
Customers will experience slower access speeds if their data usage exceeds 3 gigabytes a month, AT&T, the second-largest wireless carrier, said on its website. For customers with so-called long term evolution, or LTE, devices, the limit is 5 gigabytes a month, the Dallas-based carrier said.
AT&T is struggling to accommodate rising data traffic on its network as the popularity of smartphones and tablet computers increases. CEO Randall Stephenson said in December that the failed acquisition of T-Mobile USA -- a deal AT&T abandoned amid regulatory opposition -- would result in capacity constraints and higher prices.
The new data caps only apply to existing customers with contracts that include unlimited data, plans that the carrier doesn't offer to new subscribers anymore. The new limits represent a change to a previous AT&T policy of reducing speeds to the 5 percent of unlimited users who used the most data.