Even with the tethering, Spaccarelli's data usage wasn't excessive, he said — about 5 gigabytes per month. AT&T's Hartlove told Nadel about the tethering, and Spaccarelli admitted to it.
Earlier this month, a Southern California woman won a small-claims action against Honda over the gas mileage she got out of her Civic hybrid car. She was awarded $9,867. Meanwhile, a pending class action against Honda over the same issue would net Civic owners a few hundred dollars each. The plaintiff, Heather Peters, is an ex-lawyer who had opted out of the settlement.
AT&T's throttling of "unlimited" data comes as it tries to deal with limited capacity on its wireless network. When the iPhone was new, AT&T had ample capacity on its network, and wanted to lure customers with the peace of mind offered by unlimited plans. Now, a majority of AT&T subscribers on contract-based plans have smartphones, and the proportion is growing every month. That's putting a big load on AT&T's network.
Verizon Wireless and T-Mobile USA also throttle users, but their policies are gentler. Verizon only throttles if the specific cell tower a "heavy user" subscriber's phone is communicating with is congested at that moment. T-Mobile's throttling levels are higher for the same price, and the levels are spelled out ahead of time. AT&T subscribers have no way of knowing if they'll be throttled before a warning message drops in. If they keep using their phones, throttling kicks in a few days later.
AP Technology Writer Peter Svensson reported from New York. He can be reached at http://www.twitter.com/petersvensson
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