Consumer Protection

Throttling


Some cellular telephone providers have begun to employ a tactic called throttling to address ever-increasing traffic over cell networks. Throttling takes place when a cell consumer with an “unlimited” data plan has the speed of their data connection substantially reduced to discourage additional data usage. Usually a cell phone company will trigger a throttle when the consumer goes over a certain level of data usage (typically, the top 5 percent of data users.) Throttling can reduce a phone’s download speed by a factor of 10 or more. This can cause significant inconvenience to consumers, and in many cases hampers the effectiveness of the smart phone that the consumer purchased.

Tips:

  • Shop around for a carrier that does not employ throttling. Be mindful that although the provider may be marketing the data plan as “unlimited,” there may be fine print in the contract that allows throttling.
  • Prior to selecting a cellular provider or purchasing an unlimited data plan, ask the provider about their throttling practices for unlimited data users.
  • Some cellular companies will provide text notifications to users prior to triggering the data throttle. Ask your provider if they will notify you prior to employing throttling on your mobile device.
  • If you experience throttling, request a breakdown of when and where the data was downloaded so that you may understand your data usage and change habits accordingly.
  • If you have a WiFi connection in your home, you may consider connecting your mobile device to your home WiFi so that any data streaming within range of the WiFi connection will run through your home network and not your cellular network.
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