Unlimited data plans hold surprises for some customers - WAOW - Newsline 9, Wausau News, Weather, Sports

Unlimited data plans hold surprises for some customers

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WAUSAU (WAOW) --  Unlimited data sounds great, but cell phone users, like Taylor Zblewski say, it comes with a catch.

"I use my phone for everything," Zblewski says. "Sometimes it is so slow."

Zblewski says even though she pays for unlimited data, her phone does not always cooperate.

"When I am texting a lot, it won't scroll down and it lags," Zblewski explains.

Some area cell phone providers say they use certain practices to slow down high-data users.  For example, AT&T says they slow speeds for people who frequently download. In a statement, a company representative says customers with unlimited data, "may experience reduced speeds once their usage in a billing cycle reaches the level that puts them among the top 5 percent of heaviest data users."

The tactic is called "throttling." And other area providers say they do it too.

Verizon Wireless released a statement to all of its customers saying, "to optimize our network, we manage data connection speeds for a small subset of customers...and only in places and at times of 3G network congestion."

Zblewski is on the AT&T network. She says it's frustrating to pay for service that is not always reliable.

"Sometimes it can be extremely slow. To the point where I have to restart it," Zblewski said.

But, other local providers say they don't practice throttling. Sprint claims it offers the only truly unlimited plan. But, it will cost you. While most data plans are $30 a month, Sprint's unlimited plan charges almost $80.

In a statement, a company representative said, "it includes unlimited data, unlimited texting and unlimited calling to and from any mobile in America while on the Sprint network."

 But, for phone users like Zblewski, she says unlimited should be unlimited, with the same speed, no matter how much you use your phone.

"On commercials they say oh it's going to be so fast, the fastest...well we're not receiving that," Zblewski said.

We asked these area cell providers why throttling is necessary. Many of them said that high-data users slow down the entire network and they must maintain the tactic to keep the majority of their customers happy.

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