Is Throttling Smartphones Pointless? Study Suggests So
By BRIAN X. CHEN February 23, 2012
AT&T, Verizon Wireless and T-Mobile USA all practice data throttling, which involves slowing Internet transfer speeds for cellphone customers who use too much data. This policy applies only to customers with unlimited data plans, and the cellphone companies say it is intended to prevent data hogs from overloading the network and clogging it for everyone else. However, a new study suggests that throttling doesn't address excessive data use at all.
Validas, a company that analyzes wireless bills, said it looked at data from 55,000 cellphone bills from AT&T and Verizon subscribers in2011. Depending on the conditions of their networks, AT&T and Verizon sometimes throttle customers who are in the top 5 percent of data users. So Validas analyzed data use on bills from unlimited data plans and customers on limited, tiered plans to calculate the amount of data used by the top 5 percent for each type of customer.
The results? For Verizon bills, the top 5 percent of data customers on unlimited plans used nearly the same amount of data as those on tiered plans. And for AT&T, the top 5 percent of customers on unlimited data plans used only slightly more data than those on limited plans.