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Could throttled data be the new normal in the US?

speed limitAccording to most experts in the mobile industry, unthrottled unlimited data is simply not sustainable. There is only so much spectrum available to each mobile operator in the US, and consumer data consumption is steadily rising with no indication that it’s going to slow down anytime soon.

While Verizon and AT&T have resorted to hard data caps and big overages if people go over their caps, T-Mobile and Sprint have been experimenting with something different. Both carriers have plans that offer set amounts of high speed data, with heavy throttling for anyone who goes over. This way, they can offer “unlimited” data, while still preserving their spectrum so that everyone can use it. Additionally, Sprint is probably the most proactive carrier in the US when it comes to prioritizing its users; in other words, during times of congestion, Sprint will give certain users access to the fast lanes, while throttling other users who either use too much data (i.e. data hogs) or those who don’t pay enough (i.e. prepaid users or Framily plan users).

I’m wondering if this might start to change, though. Lately, AT&T has been experimenting with its prepaid brands Aio and Cricket by offering set amounts of throttled data – the fastest any customer of Cricket will ever be able to download something is 8Mbps on LTE, or 4Mbps on HSPA+. Period.

In the US, cable companies have long offered different tiered pricing plans, giving consumers large buckets of data at different speeds depending on how much they pay the cable company each month. Pay more money, and you’ll get faster data. Could cell phone companies follow suit in an effort to further control the spectrum crunch?

How would you feel about paying, say, $10/month on T-Mobile for uncapped data throttled at 1Mbps? $20 for 4Mbps, $30 for 10Mbps, and $40 for completely unthrottled data? I’m pulling these numbers out of thin air, but I have a feeling that this is something the US market will see sooner, rather than later.

What do you think? Would you prefer to see something like this instead of data caps? Or maybe even this used in conjunction with data caps, kind of like what Cricket is doing today?

Sound off below!

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John F

John was the editor-in-chief at Pocketables. His articles generally focus on all things Google, including Chrome and Android, although his love of new gadgets and technology doesn't stop there. His current arsenal includes the Nexus 6 by Motorola, the 2013 Nexus 7 by ASUS, the Nexus 9 by HTC, the LG G Watch, and the Chromebook Pixel, among others.

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