What happens when AT&T sends Fox News' Shep Smith a text message letting him know that he's in the top 5% of data users and will be throttled? A hilarious rant about AT&T ensues, complete with comparison to crack cocaine. Check it out:

They hook you first - it's like giving you crack. It's all-you-can-eat crack, until, until, until you like a lot of crack and then you gotta pay them.

He's clearly so bothered by AT&T's decision to throttle that he won't even let Lance Ulanoff from Mashable get a word in.

As if Ma Bell needed any more bad press. Priceless.

Thanks, Bryan!

Cameron Summerson
Cameron is a self-made geek, Android enthusiast, horror movie fanatic, musician, and cyclist. When he's not pounding keys here at AP, you can find him spending time with his wife and kids, plucking away on the 6-string, spinning on the streets, or watching The Texas Chainsaw Massacre on repeat.

  • Bryan

    I really hope all this bad PR forces their hand to stop this crap. Thanks for the credit on the article Art!

    • doug

      Bad PR isn;t gonna stop ATT. nothing can....it is the Death Star...

    • iphonesinthebackdoor

      ive been throttled before and wow, it is totally unusable. i would rather them tell me to f off in stead of pretend to allow me connectivity. we will eventually have to ban together to fight these satanic (lol) corps. verizon has stated that it is much cheaper and efficient on their 4g, so guess they want to charge you more just cuz its faster, im fine with that, but come on, dont bend me over that much.

  • Ronnie

    I love this guy. Good for him for calling out AT&T on their BS.

  • http://www.thepowerbase.com Dean Howell

    Haha... Who eats crack? I smoke it...

  • Caleb B

    AT&T is just getting hammered. I wish I would have known how shitty they were 4 months ago when I signed up with them.

  • Deltaechoe

    I'm kind of glad I'm on verizon and the FCC won't let them throttle 4g, but I will say this, I think this may be the only time I have ever watched fox news and agreed with a reporter on it

    • Tony

      inorite? lol

      I'm sad that Verizon does this on their 3G network though. I'm so glad I unthrottled the 3G on my Bionic, it was unusable while throttled. I wish I had 4G where I live.

    • http://silverfang77.tumblr.com Silver Fang

      Is that real and true? The carriers are prohibited from throttling and capping LTE?

      • Deltaechoe

        From my limited understanding of legal matters, one of the stipulations of Verizon purchasing the LTE 700 mhz spectrum was that they cannot degrade the ability of the end user to access their network.

        That isn't to say there are loopholes that verizon can use to get around, but, they can't just throttle you without providing good reason to the FCC without risking legal damages so they probably won't for now.

        • EVO

          That is why you have to pay so much to Verizon for their service which isn't any better then the other carriers. They are have bad and good. AT&T and Verizon are on the same boat with over charging for crappy service that is always down. But what can we do put to keep over paying and deal with the crappy service from Verizon and AT&T.

  • Perry A

    Glad to see AT&T getting called out on this.

    It's only going to get worse because as they keep cutting down the top 5% it's going to keep lowering the average and will therefore set the throttling bar lower. People who may be near the top 5% now will be part of it before too long, and then it'll hit people who were a little below that, and then a little below that, and so on.

  • Geoff

    I can't stand Shep ... nor Fox news ... but kudos to them for finally covering something about this story in a way that no one else mainstream has bothered to do yet.

    The problem with AT&T's system is ... eventually everyone on unlimited is going to get hit and they know it. They've already started hitting people who actually use less on their unlimited plan than 3GB ... which is a plan that costs the same as the unlimited plan. It makes no sense. If you had a 3GB service and used 2.5GB it would mean nothing ... but pay the same amount and use the same amount and get throttled to the point of modem speeds.

    I haven't been hit on this yet. But I regularly use 2GB / month. I imagine if they don't stop this policy that I'll start getting notices in a few months.

    Verizon's throttling actually works without pissing people off. I'm stuck with AT&T due to policies where I work, and don't particularly like Verizon either, but if I wasn't stuck I would consider leaving.

    • Deltaechoe

      Verizon's throttling works because they really don't throttle very many users and for right now they don't throttle the 4g at all (or i would have had it happen to me a lot by now).

      The reason AT&T keeps throttling lower and lower is because the end users are using less and less data on average because the throttle keeps getting lower. Eventually AT&T users (unlimited) are going to be throttled at less than a gig of data and it will keep going down until they get a tiered plan. It's a vicious cycle and an extremely underhanded (and tip toeing the line of illegal, but hasn't quite crossed over yet) business practice.

      AT&T is probably coming close to drawing the wrath of the FCC at this point for unfair penalties against the end user, but something really needs to push them over that edge. The more bad press the better, it's what keeps these companies in line because most people are too lemming like to say anything. They just tend to bend over and take it (no offense to anyone out there, it's just human nature). In a sense Shep is absolutely correct, it's like AT&T got everyone started on all the drugs (data) they could get and are slowly dwindling the supply until more money comes through.

      Anyway, the throttling situations are starting to come into the mainstream media spotlight and we are going to see these issues start to explode before long, and when I say explode, I don't just mean the enthusiasts are going to have a problem with it. The normal end users are going to take part once they realize that they are being conned.

      • http://codytoombs.wordpress.com Cody

        You guys crack me up...In no place does it say this guy (or anybody else) is actually getting throttled anywhere in the vicinity of 2 gig (the guy from mashable is an idiot who made up the numbers he's spouting). It's good you guys are also making up your own facts ;)

        Don't misunderstand me, I am pissed at the idea that they are clearly violating their own contract which guarantees usable service. This does constitute a bait-and-switch, and since they require signed contracts it also becomes Fraud with Intent. I don't want a petition like everybody else is calling for, I want a class action suit with a payout and mandatory sanctions requiring fulfillment of their terms of contract.

        I do agree with the final point Deltaechoe made, now that this is hitting mainstream media (and who knew Fox "News" would find a way to be useful), it's possible to create an uproar about these bad business practices. I've said for a while that getting large numbers of people angry is the easiest way to fix a big problem. This easily could become another SOPA-like issue since AT&T isn't the only one guilty of doing this crap.

  • Ignacio armijo

    Loved the video, kinda suprised since it's fox news, so passionate lol. Here goes me wishing Sprint doesnt end their unlimited plans any time soon...one can dream.....

    • JSmith

      LOL, Sprint just lets everyone throttle each other!

      "Let's grow our customer base, but we don't need to improve accessibility any time soon."

      • Freak4Dell

        Sprint: We literally can't throttle you, because if we did, you'd have no data at all.

  • Bryan

    It's funny, they say "unlimited" users cause damage to the network by using "massive" amounts of data. Yet, a tiered subscriber can use the exact same amount and there's no damage done.

    I'm not anti-business and making money, I am however, anti-slimy business practices and this is one of them.

    The short of it is this, if you're a tiered subscriber, you're welcome to use ALL the data you're willing to PAY for. Apparently, that somehow negates any "damaging" effects the network may sustain. <---all about the money,period.

  • Shane

    Someone should start one of those white house petitions that helped rally the internet against SOPA.

  • http://silverfang77.tumblr.com Silver Fang

    Tiering data is simply a way for these greedy carriers to make even more money. I want to see the FCC and FTC get them for violating the public trust (the wireless spectrum is public property, not the carriers') and fraud (we signed contracts for unlimited and now we're being punished if we actually use it).

    Perhaps a massive petition campaign would work, just like the campaign against that $2 convenience fee VZW was going to charge people to pay bills online last month.

  • Matt

    good for him to draw attention to this shady crap all the carriers are doing. i hope at&t takes a good hit to their PR. there's absolutely no reason any unlimited user should be throttled until they cross that first tier.

    why don't these carriers just grow some balls and do away with their "unlimited" plans already? it may piss off less people, actually. especially considering the long, drawn-out crap going on now.

    • Deltaechoe

      If they nullified the unlimited data plans completely, they would have to let quite a few people out of contracts free. That's a risk for lost revenue and AT&T doesn't want that at all. This is the main reason why the unlimited data plan still "exists" although in its current form I don't think you really can call it unlimited realistically (legally you still can)

      • Silver Fang

        Legal needs to start conforming to actual.

      • Matt

        does that mean that when someone renews at the end of their contract period (2 years?) that right now they renew that same unlimited contract? can't they just swap it out after everyone goes month-to-month? you want a new subsidized phone? sign this tiered contract.

        • Deltaechoe

          Once your unlimited contract is up, AT&T is under absolutely no obligation to allow you to have an unlimited data plan

        • Matt

          So wouldn't this have solved itself by now? @Deltaechoe - Sorry, can't reply directy to you anymore.

        • Deltaechoe

          We hit the reply wall, and not necessarily. AT&T is still grandfathering to give long time users the illusion of having unlimited data. This way, the end user feels like they are being treated well for their loyalty and are less likely to migrate to another carrier.

          It's a all a marketing strategy by AT&T, pretend you are rewarding loyalty and people will stick with you.

        • Freak4Dell

          That's what Sprint does when it comes up with new plans. As much as I hated that practice, it is the most fair way to get customers off of a legacy plan.

      • Freak4Dell

        But where are the customers going to go? The MVNOs and Sprint are the only ones left with unlimited. The MVNOs always have some sort of downside, whether it's lack of phone choice, lack of speed, whatever. Sprint gives you unlimited dial up. Right now, customers have limited choices if they want unlimited data, so the money AT&T would lose by ending unlimited completely isn't that big a deal, since not too many customers would actually leave.

        • Deltaechoe

          To AT&T (or any big corporation) any lost revenue looks awful to them.

  • Tomas – University Place, WA

    AT&T Wireless is NOT the old Ma Bell, it is Cingular under a different name that they bought.

    Ma Bell is alive and well - with the legal right to still even use the Bell logos - as the local wireline telephone companies.

    (Actually, calling AT&T Wireless "Ma Bell" is insulting to those of us who actually used to work for Ma Bell...)

    • Rich M

      Te old Ma Bell is dead and gone. At the beginning of the 21st Century, it was eaten by one it's own Baby Bells (SBC), who then acquired Cingular in this acquisition.
      SBC decided to use the AT&T name as it was more recognizable universally than SBC.

  • Tuman

    Go Republic Wireless, if they want you to relly on your wifi, then go Republic Wireless.
    The big cell phone companies can go down the sink, this is capitalism guys, hit them where it hurts, their wallets.
    Go republic wireless and use wifi all the time for 19 bucks all you can eat.

  • Micah

    Any network that throttles their users shouldn't be able to advertise it as unlimited. If they do they should be able to be fined for false advertisement!

    • Freak4Dell

      How is it false advertisement? They're not cutting of your data completely, so it is still unlimited.

      Throttling is absolutely fine, but it should be clearly outlined what the throttle point is, and you should be able to buy up to a higher throttle point if you want. T-Mobile is the only one that has this right.

  • Mark

    Old news. T-Mobile has been doing this for a long time now. You're "unlimited" but not really "unlimited". Go over 5GB and you're slowed down to dial up speeds.

  • ken

    I love the fox news comments. Give the other side a try gentlemen. You may discover you know a lot less than you think you do.


    • http://codytoombs.wordpress.com Cody

      It's Fox News, they make it their business to know less than anybody thinks they do.

    • Freak4Dell

      Psshhh...everybody knows all the other media outlets are completely unbiased and 100% informative. Noob.

  • Sean Prescott

    Some people posting on this article are retards. Phones are getting more advanced and with social media being so popular data access is climbing up so fast.

    I KNOW users who got throttled at 1.5 - 2 GB's. It's not supposed to happen until they reach 5GB (soft limit). They are going to get people off the unlimited data plans because they want to turn major profits. AT&T reported significant profits last year but fail to address their network issues.

    When LTE fully drops I guarantee you they will jack up their prices. I'm going to roll on the floor laughing when they introduce their Family Data Share plans which should be pretty soon because of how asinine they prices will be.

    A friend of mines got throttled and her data was pretty much useless. She was trying to access a website and the page would take 5 minutes to load. I had to turn on my Hotspot on my phone and let her use the internet.

  • Joe

    SO TRUE!! There is a difference between access and speed. And the AT&T TOS clearly outlines their policy...maybe "Shep" should have read what he more than likely blindly accepted.

    • Deltaechoe

      This coming from someone who probably hits agree all the time without reading the end user license agreement. They are not clearly outlined for the average end user. Maybe someone who is a lawyer, but most of us lack the ability to concentrate on tiny print for that long.

  • Hal Motley

    Here in Britain some phone contracts offer unlimited calls, texts and 3G data.

    The truth is that nothing in real life is unlimited and that all carriers have a finite number in their fair usage policy which is part of the contract.

    What everyone should do is research what their carrier's fair usage policy and make sure they stick to it, to prevent extra charges or slowness.

  • jack pollard

    This is unbelievable, I have been a loyal ATT customer through thick and thin, but @ 2.1 G I was notified I was in the top 5%! Some lawyer who is reading this, please contact me because we need a class action law suit NOW!!!! This is an example of deceptive practices. Actually a very very clear example of it! Unlimited = < 2G? ATT show us your stats! I pay around $250 per month that another carrier will be getting soon!