The seemingly-inevitable-end of unlimited data plans draws nearer

Adriene Hill Aug 1, 2011

AT&T will begin throttlingthe top 5 percent of data users on its unlimited data plans in October. The change applies to users who were grandfathered into the unlimited plans, before AT&T dumped them last year.

Want to avoid that fate? Here’s what AT&T has to say:

Typically what puts someone in the top 5 percent is streaming very large amounts of video and music daily over the wireless network, not Wi-Fi. Streaming video apps, remote web camera apps, sending large data files (like video) and some online gaming are examples of applications that can use data quickly.

It’s the latest sign that mobile phone companies can’t keep up with data demand. According to Credit Suisse, North American mobile networks were at 80 percent capacity in July.

My new Spotify app probably isn’t helping the situation.

Where are data plans headed? A new article in PC World has some suggestions–including “social networking” data plans that allow users unlimited access to Facebook and Twitter and data caps that limit usage during peak hours.

Will the New York Times’ David Pogue and his iPhone sing-along buddies wind up disappointed?

We’re here to help you navigate this changed world and economy.

Our mission at Marketplace is to raise the economic intelligence of the country. It’s a tough task, but it’s never been more important.

In the past year, we’ve seen record unemployment, stimulus bills, and reddit users influencing the stock market. Marketplace helps you understand it all, will fact-based, approachable, and unbiased reporting.

Generous support from listeners and readers is what powers our nonprofit news—and your donation today will help provide this essential service. For just $5/month, you can sustain independent journalism that keeps you and thousands of others informed.