Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Why AT&T's throttling of unlimited data plans is useless

AT&T has approximately 92M cell phone subscribers. I have no idea how many of these have smartphones, but lets asssume the majority, say 90%, or roughly 83M. (I'm simplifying the maths and going with 80M.) Of those 80M, how many have unlimited data plans? Whats a good number here? 25%? Too generous? Let's go with it anyway. So, in round numbers, we'll say 20M unlimited data plans. Lets assume that another 25% are on the 3Gig plan, and the remaining 50% are on a 200Mbyte plan.

AT&T decided to throttle unlimited data users over 3GBytes. But we can still use 3GBytes at full speed. AT&T reckons that's about 5% of users, or 1M of us. Lets assume that these offenders use an additional 3GBytes of data.

Some maths:

40M x 200Mbytes = 8,000,000,000MBytes or 8,000TBytes (For the low plan users)
20M x 3GBytes = 60,000,000GBytes or 60,000Tbytes (for the 3Gig plan users)
20M x 3GBytes = 60,000,000GBytes or 60,000Tbytes (for the first 3Gig of unlimited plan users)
1M x 3GBytes = 3,000,000GBytes or 3,000Tbytes (the extra 3Gig that the offending unlimited plan users suck up, that is killing AT&Ts network)

So, out of a total of 131,000TBytes of wireless data per month, AT&Ts throttling will stop the network killing total of 3,000Tbytes. Thats a little over 2% of their monthly data that they are trying to throttle.

Will that really make a difference? Absolutely not.