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snafu321's profile

Tutor

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4 Messages

Tue, Jul 7, 2015 1:58 PM

Unlimited data plan overage: HSPA+ turned off, only LTE worked

Recently I received a text that I was at 75% of my 5GB "limit" (although I have an grandfathered unlimited data plan) and after I hit the "limit", the 4G HSPA+ on my phone would no longer work, and I had to turn on LTE. Normally I have LTE turned off because I find it drains my battery, but I could not get any data through on regular 4G HSPA+ without turning on LTE. 

 

For a few days I thought there was something wrong with my phone, and I even tried switching SIM cards with a friend but nothing worked. Then I considered that AT&T had used this ploy to throttle my service (although I am not sure why turning off 4G HSPA+ is considered a throttle). And this is what they did, because when my bill reset, everything went back to normal and my 4G HSPA+ works, with the LTE turned off.

 

Has anyone else encountered this? When I contacted customer service, they told me that this was due to network congestion and I was being throttled during peak hours of network use. I explained that I tried several times to turn my phone back to "normal", even in the middle of the night when I couldn't sleep. So I don't think this is what they were trying to do, most likely it was another one of their tactics to get unlimited data users onto their tiered plans. 

 

Just curious if anyone else has had this issue. 

sandblaster

ACE - Expert

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54.5K Messages

6 y ago

Your 4G was not turned off but it probably was being throttled. This is not new, throttling has been in effect the last 5 years for unlimited data plan users. The only difference is the notification, they did not do that before.

Tutor

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4 Messages

6 y ago

I understand that it was throttled, but what I don't understand is why my phone would not connect to cellular data via 4G, only LTE. I guess I am missing how this is throttling. To me, throttling means slowing down. Isn't LTE faster? 

Mofiki

Mentor

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63 Messages

6 y ago

4G and LTE are both 4G, the difference is LTE is a little faster so that has nothing to do with throttling since your issue is going the wrong direcrion. This said you will be throttled when you hit a cap but you generally won't notice unless your downloading torrents or something.
GeekBoy

Master

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4.1K Messages

6 y ago

If you re-read the information on AT&T throttling, they tell you that with an LTE capable device, you will have 5GB of "unlimited" data with no risk of throttling. After that, you may get throttled if you attempt to use data, and the network you are using is congested. It sounds to me like you had exceeded the 5GB usage point, and the 4G/HSPA+ network you were connecting to was congested, so you got throttled. When you turned on your LTE, that network was not congested, so you were not throttled on that network, and you were able to continue to use data at full speed. I can't say specifically that is what happened to you, but it would explain what you have described to us.

Tutor

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4 Messages

6 y ago

And that would make sense, but not for 5 full days...at different points of the day. Because I tried to turn off LTE at different times, even in the middle of the night, and it didn't go back to 4G. That is where I am confused (and a bit frustrated with the throttling practices). I know I went over the 5GB limit, but if the HSPA+ band was "congested", I would think it would not be congested conveniently all hours of the day until my bill reset itself. 

Tutor

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4 Messages

6 y ago

And, thank you for your response. I forgot to say that. 

zentec

Scholar

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133 Messages

6 y ago


@Mofiki wrote:
4G and LTE are both 4G, the difference is LTE is a little faster so that has nothing to do with throttling since your issue is going the wrong direcrion. This said you will be throttled when you hit a cap but you generally won't notice unless your downloading torrents or something.

I don't think the two modes discussed are similar.  Here's why:

 

AT&T's own web site, when explaining throttling, says the limits are 3 gigabytes for 3G/4G and LTE is 5 gigabytes.  In the operational eyes of AT&T, there is a distinction.

 

For the customer, many smartphones permit the user to select 4G and LTE as operational modes.  The OP does this to conserve battery life because LTE uses more bandwidth and more signal bandwidth takes more juice.  If they were "both 4G", then why bother?  Since the OP has an unlimited grandfathered plan, we can assume this is a smartphone. 

 

Finally, they are technically different despite the marketing department taking over the moniker "LTE".  They are different systems, starting with how the signals are modulated.  The curious can continue the exploration of this fascinating topic on their own with Google.

 

I point these out because the OP says that once the limit was reached, the 4G systems quit responding for data where LTE still worked.  It seems completely plausible that AT&T's "congestion management" system is broken by seeing the OP over the 3 gigabyte limit and attempted to throttle.  Since it worked on LTE, that limit is 2 gigabytes higher and throttling was not employed.

 

AT&T (and the community here) needs to carefully consider whether the network management has an issue, not whether throttling is appropriate or other customer relations issues.  Throttling is one thing, cutting off service, whether intentional or the result of misconfigured systems, is completely another matter and something appears to have done just that.

 

I highly doubt the OP was using torrents on the phone.  Does anyone actually do that?

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