AT&T's excuse for data throttling: You
Cisco's release of its study on mobile data usage proves that throttling at 2GB is not going to work. AT&T's response to it? Woe is us! Data's increasing exponentially, and we're trying!
AT&T says that its data traffic increased 20,000 percent since 2007, with the amount of bandwidth consumed doubling every year since then. "The growth is now driven primarily by smartphones", senior executive vice president John Donovan writes in a blog post. "Add to that new customer additions and the continuing trend of upgrades from feature phones to smartphones, and you have a wireless data tsunami".
Let's translate this out of marketing speak. "Hey, we paid Apple millions for the exclusive rights to the iPhone. We told you all how much you can't live without it, and it was true! Then we added a full line of Android phones to the mix. Now we can't keep up!"
The "data tsunami" is completely AT&T's own doing. It sold us on expensive smartphones with equally expensive data plans, and consumers bit hard. Then on top of this, the carrier told us: "Hey, you can use all the data you want, we'll look the other way".
Never at any point do I remember any of the carriers publicly acknowledging this would be impossible to maintain forever. Is that the consumer's fault?
AT&T's backdoor move to start throttling on as little as 2GB of monthly data showed how serious the carrier is in doing away with any unlimited data plan left. And Fox News' Shepard Smith couldn't have put it any better.
Even if you hate Fox, please watch the video. Smith is one of the "top five percenters". His frustration with the plan sums up what a lot of us long-time AT&T customers feel: that we were lied to and the rules of the game have been changed midstream.
As I said Tuesday, it's not the responsibility of the user to fix the bandwidth problem. This was created by the carrier's insistence on pushing smartphone plans on every user it could, and all of a sudden realizing "wait, we can't handle the traffic". This problem was created by the carriers, not consumers.
I hear lots of excuses, but little in the way of solutions.
One last thing that deserves mention: Wi-Fi is not an acceptable solution to this mess. Donovan mentions the work to add more hotspots to AT&T's network as part of "enhancements" to service. It's not. The whole purpose of a cell phone is to use it just about anywhere. We shouldn't have to run to the nearest hotspot to use the thing.
Expanding Wi-Fi doesn't deal with the problem; it's kicking the can down the curb and letting the Internet deal with the problem that AT&T says you created. AT&T, you got yourself into this mess. Now it's your responsibility to find a way out. This isn't Google giving away service for free. We pay you for data. We keep up our end of the agreement, how about you keep up yours.