Effective immediately, even subscribers that were grandfathered into AT&T’s $30 monthly unlimited plan will see their wireless Internet download speeds “throttled” when they exceed three gigabytes of data usage in a billing period. Mobile subscribers that use its next generation 4G LTE network, will see their internet speeds reduced after using five gigabytes of data in a billing period. This move to throttle unlimited data plans by AT&T comes after its January price increases by 33% some of its tiered pricing plans.
Others Join AT&T in Throttling Heaviest Users
Verizon Wireless eliminated unlimited data plans in July, but it is also throttling the top 5% of its users in congested cell site areas. T-Mobile terms and conditions allow it to reduce mobile data speeds when customers reach 5GB of usage in a billing cycle. MetroPCS Communications also is considering tiered pricing to increase its revenue. For now, Sprint has not announced any changes to its unlimited wireless data plans.
With new limits and throttling of data usage, eliminating corporate liable (paid) devices or using fixed stipends can have unintended consequences. Employees that have limited data plans or receive a text message from their telecom carrier warning that they are close to their cap in the current billing cycle may ignore important work related e-mails. Employees may also encounter slow mobile service when they have a critical message to send to prospective clients or business associates. In some cases, employees may try to use public Wi-Fi hot spots to resume their work. However, that option opens the enterprise up to data traffic that is unsecured and more vulnerable.
Steps to Take Now
Enterprises must monitor how much mobile data employees use each month. A good WEM program will provide reports and help optimize this usage to service plans that are most appropriate for employees. Organizations should also review their mobile policies and set guidelines on applications and devices that employees can use. A policy that sets expectations and guidelines for data usage that is combined with proactive monitoring of data usage can help reduce costs and avoid throttling. Wireless service providers will continue to face pressures due to limits on wireless spectrum and capacity limits, so this isn’t an issue that will go away anytime soon.