Not too long ago AT&T changed the “unlimited” data plans that some of us were grandfathered into from 5GB to 22GB. That’s right, unlimited meant 5GB, after which your connection would be throttled in some unpredictable way and you’d curse a little (or a lot) about how it was 201x and you’re still getting nickel-and-dimed by the telcos.
To be sure, 5GB is a lot of data — and AT&T’s LTE service in Silicon Valley is FAST — but given the insatiable way I devour information each day (e.g., Twitter, hundreds of RSS feeds for which I download images, Snapchat, Facebook, etc.), it’s just not enough to last me a full month, even if I switch to WiFi at work and other places when, for example, I’m streaming a relatively long video.
When AT&T announced in September that these old-timer plans were being bumped 440% to 22GB, I was surprised. Happy as shit, but surprised. I thought immediately that I probably could just turn off WiFi and go LTE-only. Again, AT&T LTE in the Bay Area is fast; like, orders of magnitude faster than the (only-option-available) AT&T DSL line at my apartment. (Trust me, the irony (and tragedy?) of that is not lost at me.)
Since the change went into effect that’s exactly what I’ve done. It’s awesome. I don’t think about data-use any more. If I do go over I know that it’s probably going to be in the last week of the month and that it simply means my connection will be throttled only when there is network congestion in the area, not turned off completely (or suddenly $10/Mb or whatever).
And let’s not forget the latency…that sweet, sweet, barely noticeable LTE latency. It makes everything feel faster, and on mobile especially this makes a huge difference. LTE-only is a great experience.
Did AT&T do this out of the kindness of their hearts? Of course not — they had both the FTC and FCC breathing down their necks over their throttling nonsense. But, the genie’s out of the bottle now, and there’s no putting his fast ass back in there.
For those curious, I use an app called Dataman Pro to monitor my data usage. It’s super simple, has a nice widget that shows percentage of data used, and offers a number of different notification options (e.g., tell me when I’ve used up half of my data for the month).