Here's a shocker: in order to conserve precious bandwidth, AT&T plans to start throttling data for the top 5% of users that were grandfathered in on unlimited data plans back in the day. An AT&T spokesperson danced around the subject quite delicately, making sure to note that most users won't be affected by the change:
In what can only be described as a real sphincter-clencher for Sprint customers, the nation's last true unlimited smartphone data provider has made a move that may signal the eventual end of that philosophy.
Yesterday, Sprint announced that customers on its Virgin-branded pre-paid arm, Virgin Mobile, will now be subjected to data throttling after 2.5GB of usage in a month. Sprint claims this will only affect 3% of all Virgin mobile data subscribers. The throttling will limit data hogs to a paltry 256Kbits/s once they've capped out at the 2.5GB mark in a single month - which is actually a little better than what T-Mobile does (dropping people to EDGE speeds).
Sprint has been making great strides to bash its competitors and show us who has the real unlimited data plan as of late, but this new ad puts it all on the table: Verizon and AT&T charge overage fees for anything more than 2GB and T-Mobile throttles your speed after a certain amount of consumed bandwidth, but The Now Network gives you unlimited data, sans-catch for one price. Have a look:
The more Sprint ads I see, the more I want to jump ship from Verizon, so they must be doing something right.
With all the data plan drama lately, is anyone else is thinking about jumping to The Now Network?
It seems the explosive growth of smartphone use has had some unintended consequences: U.S. carriers are moving towards tiered data. While some carriers have had "soft" caps for years, we've recently seen a move towards hard caps. "Tiered" plans have long been standard in other parts of the world, but the simple difference is that US carriers charge significantly more across the board - be it basic plans (just minutes), add-on's (such as texting), or data (whether used on a plan or as-you-go).
Update: According to two separate Verizon memos intercepted by Droid-life, existing Verizon customers can keep their existing data plan pricing when renewing or upgrading. Unfortunately, as with all offers of this type, just how long it will last remains to be seen. But, given that the BIONIC is coming some time soon-ish, it seems very likely that existing Verizon customers will be able to get the device without being forced into tiered data.
This should sate a lot of potentially angry current Verizon customers, but will definitely punish those coming over from AT&T for the iPhone 5 later this year.
Nielsenwire released new smartphone figures this morning, with a focus on data consumption. Topping the list of the data consumers amongst the smartphone OS's was, of course, Android.
The average Android user utilizes 582MB (or roughly .6GB) of data per month - far less than what is allocated by any of the major carrier's plans. We often hear about consumers becoming feisty over data plan tier-ification or throttling, but how many people do these caps and throttles actually affect? According to Nielsen, less than 3% of smartphone users average data consumption exceeding 2GB per month. Now, this is combining all platforms - though Android obviously makes up the majority.
Nielson's latest statistics show little change over last month's, with Android, iOS, and BlackBerry holding first, second, and third place, respectively. Admittedly, the numbers for Android and iOS dropped a percent each to 36% and 26% while BlackBerry moved up a percent to 23%, but still - relatively unchanged.
However, this month's report included an interesting look at data usage. Perhaps due to the much larger community of power users, Android owners suck down 582 MB of data per month, 90 MB (18%) more than iOS (492 MB). This comes despite the fact that less users on a whole seem to actively engage in heavy data-consumption activities:
- 74 percent of Android smartphone owners and 79 percent of iPhone owners report having downloaded apps in the past 30 days
- 43 percent of Android owners and 46 percent of iPhone owners say they streamed online music or mobile radio in the past 30 days
- 35 percent of Android smartphone consumers and 37 percent of iPhone owners report having watched video or mobile TV in the past 30 days
Earlier this month we told you that T-Mobile was working to revamp a couple of its pre-paid plans to include unlimited data, and that is finally official as of today.
(Note from David: Except, that data isn't really, truly unlimited. I mean, if you count 2G EDGE [which is what you get when you exceed your cap] as "data," then yes - you can have all the EDGE you can eat. But that's like eating sand. And not beach sand, either - it's dirty playground sand. That is T-Mobile's definition of "unlimited data," and it's nothing but marketing department spew, plain and simple.
We knew it was coming. We've known for a while, in fact. But as summer draws near, reality is starting to set in: unlimited data is coming to an end on Verizon. For real. Here's what you need to know (based on what we know): Verizon's CFO told Reuters at a tech conference that tiered data will be implemented this summer, and that all unlimited data options will be eliminated. There was also a suggestion that family plans may (eventually - not with the launch of tiers) get data pooled in a fashion similar to minutes - eliminating the need for individual data plans.
On May 22, T-Mobile will be lifting the figurative data gate on its web70 and web50 plans, offering users unlimited data to go along with the unlimited talk and text that is already a part of the deal. As it stands right now, the web70 plan has a 2GB data cap, while the web50 plan only allows for a measly 100MB of data usage. While the latter will get the benefit of unlimited data, there will still be one restriction: the speed will be throttled after 100MB. Fortunately for web70 users, that plan will not suffer the same effect, so you'll be able to surf and download at 3G/4G speeds to your heart's content.