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AT&T touts their "future-proof" network yet still throttles some customers due to congestion

AT&T is so confident of their network that they have discussed their own effort to "future-proof against the coming influx of connected vehicles."

Published onJanuary 8, 2015


This week, AT&T made a number of different statements about how ready their network was for future data use by customers. In one speech, the CEO of AT&T, Ralph de la Vega, proudly proclaimed that AT&T had a large lead in the connected car market. By some estimates, AT&T will own over 50 percent of the growing market during 2015.

But shouldn’t AT&T be slightly worried about the potential for a network strain if the connected car market takes off and data usage increases? Nah. In fact, AT&T wants to see “more gigabytes burned up by the connected vehicle.”

AT&T is so confident of their network that Chris Penrose, senior vice president of AT&T’s Emerging Devices business, discussed AT&T’s effort to “future-proof against the coming influx of connected vehicles.” (WirelessWeek)

In terms of online video traffic, AT&T made it clear that they aren’t worried about that either. As John Donovan, senior executive vice president of AT&T’s technology and operations, told a crowd at CES this week, AT&T is ready for the increase in data demand, whether it be from YouTube or FaceTime.

“We’re world class now as knowing what our need is going to be,” John Donovan said during an appearance at the 2015 Citi Global Internet, Media & Telecommunications conference in Las Vegas on Tuesday. – FierceWireless

But wait, if AT&T is so confident of their network going forward, why are AT&T customers on an unlimited data plan still being throttled for using just several GB’s a month due to AT&T’s “network management process“? As AT&T’s own site states, AT&T throttles those unlimited data plan customers who have are using a 3G or 4G smartphone, have used between 3GB-5GB in a billing period and are located in an area that is “experiencing network congestion.”


Even though AT&T claims to throttle when “experiencing network congestion,” Ars Technica pointed out last month that AT&T was simply throttling all unlimited data plan customers after several GB’s in a billing cycle. One only needs to glance at Ars Technica, Reddit or DSLReports to see that virtually all of AT&T customers with unlimited data plans see their speeds brought to a crawl almost every month. In one instance, AT&T slowed down a customer from LTE speeds to just 0.11Mbps.

AT&T has since responded by claiming that those unlimited data plan customers in congested networks would in fact be the only ones throttled “sometime in 2015” and when it was “technologically available” to AT&T.


AT&T once told us that customers who used more than 2GB’s a month needed to be throttled and were the reason for slow speeds. Then AT&T decided that they needed to throttle customers using their network due to “fairness.” Now, AT&T seems to have given up trying to find a new excuse for throttling other than they want customers off unlimited data plans and onto their more expensive, data capped mobile plans.

But speaking of “future-proof,” AT&T seems to enjoy using the phrase when advertising services:

  • When AT&T was trying to purchase T-Mobile, they claimed that they wanted to make such a purchase to future-proof their network.
  • In 2009, AT&T’s CEO, Randall Stephenson claimed in a Wall Street Journal article that with or without iPhone exclusivity, AT&T planned to invest heavily in wireless to “future-proof” the business.
  • When AT&T is pitching their business cloud services, they assert that a business can “future-proof” the cloud with AT&T’s help.
  • When AT&T advertises their M2X services (a storage service for their Internet of Things business), they claim that customers can receive a “future-proof API.”
  • Does your business need a dedicated Internet connection? You can try AT&T’s Managed Internet Service which provides “future-proof architecture” to customers needing IP VPN solutions.
  • AT&T’s Carrier Ethernet Services Principles allow customers to connect at multiple locations in a metro area, with a variety of configurations. Of course, it is also “future-proof” as AT&T advertises.
  • When AT&T built a brand new Operations Center in New Jersey in 1998, AT&T told the New York Times that the network found in the center was designed to be ”future-proof.”

AT&T is full of “future-proof” services. Hopefully AT&T can find a way in the next few years to “future-proof” their throttling technology for customers just on unlimited data plans.

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