AT&T Puts the 'Limit' in Unlimited Data

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The data dependent army of tweeters are fuming over AT&T's announcing that it will cap its unlimited data plans. The carrier announced on Thursday afternoon that it will throttle the 3G and 4G connection speeds for users who consume more than 3 gigabytes per month. (This is the geeky grown-up equivalent of getting time out for running around at recess too much for some people.)

Predictably, the news has taken Twitter by storm. MSNBC tech writer Rosa Golijan sounded snarky as she tweeted, "Oh, look! AT&T clarified the limits of its "unlimited" data plans,"  Blogger and CUNY journalism professor Jeff Jarvis simply sounded angry, "That's not 'unlimited,' AT&T. That's fucking fraud." Some people, like The Wall Street Journal's Amy Schatzp, kept a level head, tweeting, "AT&T is ending unlimited data plans, penalizing customers…"

It's not entirely true that this is the end of unlimited data. Data throttling simply means files will upload and download more slowly if you've hit your limit. And it's also not a surprise. Everybody knew that something like this was coming, though. AT&T already introduced a tiered system that offered different amounts of data for different prices in an effort to manage the strain that smartphones (honestly, mostly iPhones) bring to its network. Then again, it's worth pointing out that AT&T no longer has a monopoly on the iPhone, and we can be sure that the famously unlimited data-dispensing underdog Sprint will take advantage of consumers' rage.

This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.