AT&T Customers will Pay More for Unlimited Data Plans Starting in February

AT&T Customers will Pay More for Unlimited Data Plans Starting in February
Image: Pixabay
December 2, 2015

Those lucky enough to be grandfathered in to AT&T's unlimited data plan will have to fork over some extra money following the first rate hike for the data plan in seven years.

Customers will be charged an additional $5 a month beginning February 2016. AT&T is waiving the termination fee for impacted lines should customers cancel within 60 days of the rate increase appearing on their bills.

In a release, AT&T wrote that the price increase won't affect current unlimited data speeds and will only see reduced speeds if customers exceed 22GB of data in a billing cycle and are in a congested area.

AT&T first began offering unlimited data plans in 2007, before the ubiquity of smart phones. New customers are no longer offered the option, but those who had the plans were grandfathered in. Existing customers were also sold plans that were labeled as unlimited.

According to a Federal Communications Commission (FCC) complaint, in 2011 the company implemented a maximum bit rate policy and capped the maximum data speeds for unlimited customers after they used a set amount of data within a billing cycle.

Commonly known as throttling, AT&T slowed down the speeds at which users could browse the internet, check their email, stream music or watch videos. Thousands of customers complained to the FCC saying that they were misled to believe that their data plans were unlimited, when in fact they weren't. Those that wanted to cancel were locked into long term contracts with hefty termination fees.

As a result, the FCC in June said it would fine AT&T $100 million, but according to a Politico article published in late November, the agency had yet to collect any of that money.