Exactly how important is for users to know about speed throttling from U.S. carriers?. Image Source: Gadget Review

Many U.S. carriers throttle the speed of their customers’ data plans when they go beyond certain data limits. Throttling bandwidth means to slow down internet speeds for certain services purposely. It is a practice that runs against the Net Neutrality Rule of the Federal Communications Commission.

Carriers offer juicy promises with unlimited data caps across several devices: smartphone, tablets, computers, TVs, etc. However, they tend to treat different services with different advantages, meaning a Netflix stream might not download as fast as scrolling down on the Facebook app.

The Net Neutrality forbids throttling internet speeds, and states carries should treat every kind of Internet services the same, so users should find the same download and upload speeds across all their devices, apps, and services.

The Net Neutrality act says all data must be treated the same, and T-Mobile's One puts limits on videos
The Net Neutrality Act says all data must be treated the same, and T-Mobile’s One puts limits on videos. Image credit: the Huffington Post.

Customers should learn how to free data schemes: first of all, users should know never to trust a carrier’s unlimited data plans as there is always a hidden limit.

The current discussion:  data cap exemption policies

AT&T carrier unleashed its most ambitious TV streaming service package to date.  When the customers subscribe to DirecTV, the satellite TV service AT&T bought in 2015; the company will offer an unlimited amount of TV on their mobile devices.

AT&T will use DirecTV’s data cap exemption to boost its new DirecTV Now streaming service.  Verizon is preparing a similar free data scheme.

The FCC wrote to both companies explaining how prioritizing an internet service because of a partnership of an appropriate fee violates the Net Neutrality rules.

Google, Apple, AT&T and Comcast join FCC's Strike Force to tackle robocalls
The Federal Communications Commission claims how speed throttling is a menace to the Net Neutrality agreement. Image credit: AMS News.

How to avoid free data schemes?

A broadband test:  can alert users if the carrier is slowing down their internet speeds. Speedtest.com offers free test by just clicking the test button. It will automatically choose a nearby server and try downloading and uploading files. The results should be similar to the plan’s original offer.

The “fair usage policy: “any unlimited data plan includes a “fair usage” policy. The plan is usually hidden in illegible fine print on the website or the marketing material. The obscure rule says when and why the carrier will slow down the internet speeds of the user.

Users can recognize the existence of the policy if there is an asterisk next to the “unlimited” word with a footnote that states “terms and conditions apply.”

Monitoring the data plan: users should find out exactly how much the data plan offers. On mobile devices, it goes from 1GB to 4GB per month. Android users can track the data caps with the data usage monitor on the settings menu (Android 4.0 onwards).

Other applications on the Play Store or App Store offer the same service, such as Onavo Count, 3G watchdog, and My Data Manager.

It's important to know how to avoid free data schemes from the major carrier companies in the United States. Image Source: CS Monitor
It’s important to know how to avoid free data schemes from the major carrier companies in the United States. Image Source: CS Monitor

Use Wi-Fi and avoid streaming services:  Wi-Fi is always the better option unless the users are planning to do banking and payment on a public Wi-Fi. Also, streaming services like YouTube, Netflix, and Pandora consume the most data.

Why do carriers throttle speed?

 Data caps exist because hen few users generate massive loads on a network, it means slow speeds for everyone else.

Despite the clear answer, data caps remain a sensitive matter on the U.S. While carriers are trying to keep the networks as fast as they can with increasingly demanding services all over the place, customers are asking to get what they paid for and do whatever they please with their data plans.

Source: Ars Technica

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