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Description: Cell phone users risk slow service if they overuse their data plans. CNN’s Christine Romans reports.


Date: Feb 14, 2012

Questions for discussion:

  1. Is this a fair policy that the data providers are implementing on big users of data?  Why or Why not?

18 Responses to “Don’t Overuse your Phone’s Data Plan”

  1. Salma H.

    Honestly, this does not surprise me one bit. Phone companies always find a way to ‘screw’ the customers over, one way or another! It seems a bit ridiculous to me however, that one can pay a large bill each month to receive ‘unlimited’ services when in reality they are paying for it with the unfortunate slow service. It is most definitely unfair, but shows you that technology comes with more than one price! Beware of those phone companies, as they will continue digging deep into your wallet as soon as you sign on the dotted line. I wonder how exactly they determine the top 5% of data users, and if it is limited to the United States only? Either way, I am glad I am not with any of those mentioned phone companies, as I am sure I would receive a couple text messages notifying me of my over use 🙂

  2. Mr. White

    I have never heard that this is happening and I do not know anything about it. I think it is important that I provide a disclaimer so that nobody takes my post too seriously.

    As an uninformed spectator all I can do is raise questions about the issue. First, was this an ad hoc solution that the phone providers made unbeknownst to their customers? Second, did these service providers engage in any illegal business practices?

    Whether or not this is fair is comes down to if the service providers exercised some level of due diligence in communicating the issue to their clients before they signed up for the unlimited data plan. If the issue was in fact communicated ahead of time then it is perfectly fair. Rules are rules and everyone needs to play a fair game of ball. However, if all the sudden the providers realized that they had made an error and decided to fix it by unexpectedly slowing down the service of heavy data users, then I definitely think that the customers of these providers got screwed. The other major issue that I wonder about is if there was any collusion between the providers. The report mentioned that all the major companies are now operating the same way. Did these phone providers get together behind closed doors and agree it would be in everyone’s best interest if they all began slowing down the data of heavy users? I don’t know. I am just asking questions.

  3. Chance Engel

    No i do not think that this is a fair policy. All of the phone companies are constantly preaching how fast their phone internet speed is and try to use it as a selling point on their products. If you are using any smart phone for its purposes as a smart phone (ie. internet and other features) then you basically need unlimited data or you will exceed usage every month and have to pay costly bills. The fact that they are restricting unlimited use is ridiculous. if they dont think that you should be able to use truly unlimited internet then they should not be able to offer that to you.

  4. Mattie E

    I have to say that this does not surprise me at all! Cell phone companies are notorious for constantly finding new ways to get money out of their customers. I think this is unfair, especially if a customer is paying for an unlimited data plan. Last time I checked, unlimited meant never-ending, and it seems as though the cell phone companies don’t want to honour this. They are giving poor service to paying customers, and I imagine unlimited data isn’t cheap! If I was paying for unlimited data, and then experienced slower internet speed because I had used “too much” data, I would be very upset! Customers that don’t pay for unlimited data receive good service, so why should those who are paying more get worse service? I think this is a very poor way to treat customers and a sure way to lose business. If the service providers have such a problem with heavy data users, then the option of unlimited data shouldn’t exist.

  5. Ali Almasoud

    That is for sure not fair. I feel there is no way I can understand cell phone companies policy even if it is illustrated in the contract. They always want to get as much money as possible out of the customer pocket. Besides they try to provide a lower service for those who use the internet very much when they have unlimited data plan, if I get a 1 GB for example, and exceed the data limit, they charge too much money and they won’t stop the service just to keep taking money out of my pocket. I have noticed that this happen a lot if you have signed a long term contract with low price smart phones, perhaps they just try to get the value back! now i try to use local wireless network as much as possible just to not go over the limit and I use it only when there is no way to access a local area network.

  6. crystal s.

    No, I do not think that companies such as AT&T and Verizon should penalize those cell phone users who use a lot of data or storage space. I mean if you pay for it then you should be able to use all of your data space, right? And even if you go over then you are charged additional costs that the cell phone provider profits from, so why are they trying to slow down the usage rate? I think that these cell phone providers are unable to keep up with the enormous amounts of data that is being used so in order to find satisfying solutions for customers their only option is to try and slow down the process while they find a solution to the data usage problem. With todays technological advancements everything is done online from banking, shopping, looking for the right restaurant, checking the weather, playing a game, or chatting with someone through a social media such as facebook; texting is also a major form of communication now because it is cheaper than buying minutes to actually talk with someone on the phone. Cell phone providers are stalling the usage rate in order to find a way of storing the massive amounts of data that each consumer uses. So why don’t they just admit that is the problem? Because then they will lose customers and that means loss of $$$.

  7. Le Liu

    A cell phoned data plan is offered for Internet-ready cell phones so that the phones can surf the Web and send and receive email. Many smartphones are able to access the latest high-speed networks (Maxwell Payne).Usually, the cell phone data plan cost $30 a month and the users can access to certain amount bandwidth. People purchase the function due to its benefit like checking emails, chatting with friends and using it as GPS even. I do not think it is fair for the customers that the provider implements the data plan. Customer pay money to get the service, and the provider should provide service as they promised. Moreover, customer buys the plan because they do enjoy the benefits and the provider should recognize that customers probably are going to use it a lot. The provider should try to make further technical development rather than manipulating customers.

  8. Veronica

    Nothing suprises me coming from a cell phone company. I have been with the same company for years and it always seems that they can tack on extra charges for something or my usage is way higher then where it should be. I think the reason for the lack of service on high data users (“unlimted data”) is done intentionally. How much does it cost for companies to fill their offices with employees waiting to take our calls about problems? Or the cost of issuing new phones when something goes wrong? Companies want the newbies, once you are roped into the company you are stuck there until your contract goes up or you buy yourself out of a contract because you’re tired of the crap with that company (all the same) whereas a newbie is freshmeat.

  9. Veronica

    I guess I should add, you should get what you pay for, if it’s not going to function as advertised it shouldn’t be offered. But the cell phone companies know they can get away with it because of contracts, dependancy on technology and the cost attached to owning a cell phone and switching plans/ carriers.

  10. Ryan Huntley

    First of all, I would be interested to see who this “Top 5% of data” user’s consists of. Are these people business professionals that require mobile data for running business operations or your average Joe watching cat videos on Youtube? Different people have different internet connectivity need, and without more specific data it’s hard to factor individual users into the equation.
    All things being equal though, I think that internet browsing done on a mobile device is primarily for convenience, and that a mobile device shouldn’t be used as a primary browsing platform to begin with. Said convenience use to me includes checking movie times, comparing prices in stores, checking directions, etc. This is primarily what I use my data plan for and I have yet to use more than the 1 gigabyte that’s included in my plan with Bell.
    From a technical stand point, I can see how a person consuming the band width of several users becomes essentially uneconomical for the phone company to service. I think as users we have to consider that there is a cost-benefit ratio that’s attached to our phone plans, and as such I don’t think it’s unreasonable for phone companies to control our data speed as a means of controlling costs.

  11. Amby O

    This is a terrible disgusting way that phone companies scheme to try to screw customers over. Of course “unlimited” anything is really not unlimited. As a customer, you have to be careful what you use on your phone and how far you use it because in the end, you may end up paying way more than what you bargained for. It’s terrible on the phone companies side because they lure you into thinking that you can go over and beyond what they offer you because it’s unlimited but thats not the case at all. I noticed as a customer of unlimited data that yes, i do pay a lot for this and i noticed that once it starts getting to the full capacity of my usage, it starts to slow down. I don’t think phone companies should do that because it’s not fair to customers. Phone companies will start to lose customers if they carry on on this path. If you promise me something as an individual, i expect you to pull through and do as you say. If you do otherwise, I don’t think i would find it fair and it can possibly push me to not trusting you and leaving you (as the phone company). Stick to your promises and don’t be a fraud!

  12. Misbah Dar

    It is a fair policy that the data providers are implementing on big users of data because they have to make more money one way or another. The more you use the more you have to pay. Also, the rate at which the data is being used is ridiculous, it is unlimited and shouldn’t be restricted to a limit. Policy is just like the internet there is a fees everyone pays to have the internet access but to add other applications to use such as word processing there is an extra fees associated with it. Nothing is free in this world; it comes with a price tag. The more upgraded you would like to be and the more you would like to use the plan, more fees is associated with that plan. This is just the beginning of the data users and there is going to be a lot of users in the meantime and in the future then the data providers would have to increase their limit to be able to provide more better service to the majority of the world. 5% of the users seem like a very limited amount of people. There is probably a lot more people using the data then you can imagine.

  13. Reply

    Ugh, really?
    I actually never heard of this happening around me at all. I definitely think it is NOT a fair policy, not because they control the traffic, but because people in the first place made a contract with a “unlimited” data plan. It’s not surprising that cell phone companies come up with this kind of idea but I think that those cell phone companies should not have came up with the “unlimited data plan” idea at the first place if they were not able to provide that exact unlimited data plan. Cell phone companies are not a non-profit organizations, in other words, they exist to make some bucks, so I understand that they come up with plans that helps them to make money. However, I think it is wrong to penalize customers over their inaccurate projection (possibility of providing unlimited data plans).

  14. Xuan Wang

    Of course it is not a fair policy to provide slower speed for the unlimited user only because they are big users of data. Customers have paid to the service which the company already earn money. It is a fair transaction between benefit and service. Before customers paying money, the companies try all their best to tell customers how good they are and attract customers with so nice advertises. But after the customer choose their service, they do not care about customers feeling any more and give some extra not nice limit. It is not a happy transaction for everyone. And it is a kind of ugly of the greedy company which want to earn money do not are about anything else.
    Change the service company is not convenient, because maybe you need to change your phone number when you change the service company. You have to tell all your friends and also your business partners. May be that is why some company can treat customs such unfair. Because they are sure that their customers do not want to leave them unless there is no other way. Even though they can leave the same cell phone number and only change the service company, it is also have to take a lot of time to know which company and which plan is better. All of this is not convenient enough.

  15. Marli Hadden

    I don’t think that it is unreasonable for service companies to slow down the usage of big data users. It makes sense for controlling traffic and allowing the networks to run faster for everyone else. That being said, if someone is paying for an unlimited data plan they should get unlimited data without any consequences. It is a little bit dishonest for service providers to start controlling data usage when the plan has already been purchased. Perhaps they should up the fee for unlimited data so that the company can better support the customers that use a lot of data. I think that it would be better business practice for the companies to be upfront about what “unlimited data” actually entails and that way the customer knows exactly what they are getting with a data plan.

  16. Jenn Burton

    If cell phone service providers are creating plans so that customers can get the best plan for them without breaking the bank, why aren’t they adapting plans when they realize a user is going over every month, or communicating the rates effectively to ensure those who do go over know how much that is going to cost them. With providers slowing service to the users it creates dislike and hate towards their provider. Users will begin to shop around for a better deal and a provider that is willing to adapt a plan for them.
    I use Rogers and before I increased my data amount I would receive a text letting me know that I was about to max out. If I did end up maxing out then they would call me and offer me a better plan to increase data without increasing the monthly cost by an astronomical amount.
    If it becomes policy to send a ‘speed bump’ to your cell to avoid over usage then what’s to say the need for smartphones wont decrease. Smartphones create convenience and ease while on the go and remove the need to only look at something while in front of the desktop. ‘Speed bumps’ will revert the users to a simple phone and increase the tasks that need to be done while at your desk, not over lunch, in a meeting, or even at home.

  17. Rod white quills

    i really don’t like what phone companies are doing to people who go over there data plans because it is so easy to go over and once you go over you are getting charged a lot of money even with an unlimited data plan they are still findings ways to say you went over on this and that and charge you. most times you don’t even know you have gone over until it is to late there has to be a wat for the phone companies to give there loyal customers some sort of warning or even a break on your bill. because as for me i try to not search things on the internet for fear of going over my plan for the month but some how my bill is always higher than it should and when we phone to inquire about the bill it is always the same you went over your data plan for the month. even if you tell them or sign up fora certain plan you always get charged even if you don’t use your phone. so no don’t go over your data paln or it will cost you big time this is from experience and stoires that i have heard. there has to be some sort of way customers can be alerted. Phone companies make enoughmoney of us why don’t they just allow you to use the data and charge you for your plan instead of going over on your data. i personally think it is just a way for them to makemoney but why thay make enough as is

  18. yue pan

    I think it is a unfair policy to customers an when they are big users of data plan. When we are choosing a plan, the phone company would tell us the plan of the relevant material. Even if we have very clear for some details, we still have problem when we use the plan in time. For example, for most customers, using their smartphones to access the Internet is a very common thing in nowadays, checking email, chatting, watching the news, and posting recent events to their friends on facebook, but these are all need the data plan to support of large discharge. As the video says, some companies reduce the speed of user to access the Internet because some customers are big users on data. This is very serious problem because the companies have no rights to do this decisions even some customers have exceed their data plan, they still will pay to the companies.

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