Text Of FCC’s Proposed Rules: ‘Protecting And Promoting The Open Internet’

The FCC has a long document about its efforts to change the way Internet providers can handle traffic. I’ll have a post later about how these rules will affect users, but for now I’ve chopped out the most relevant portion of it and placed it here in a more reader-friendly format.

Proposed Rules

Part 8 of Title 47 of the Code of Federal Regulations is amended as follows:

No Blocking.
No Commercially Unreasonable Practices.
Other Laws and Considerations.
8.11 Definitions.
AUTHORITY: 47 U.S.C. §§ 151, 152, 154(i)-(j), 303, 316, 1302

§ 8.1

The purpose of this Part is to protect and promote the Internet as an open platform enabling consumer choice, freedom of expression, end-user control, competition, and the freedom to innovate without permission, and thereby to encourage the deployment of advanced telecommunications capability and remove barriers to infrastructure investment.

§ 8.3

(a) A person engaged in the provision of broadband Internet access service shall publicly disclose
accurate information regarding the network management practices, performance, and commercial terms of its broadband Internet access services, in a manner tailored

(i) for end users to make informed choices regarding use of such services,
(ii) for edge providers to develop, market, and maintain Internet offerings, and
(iii) for the Commission and members of the public to understand how such person complies with the requirements described in sections 8.5 and 8.7 of this chapter.

(b) In making the disclosures required by this section, a person engaged in the provision of broadband Internet access service shall include meaningful information regarding the source, timing, speed, packet loss, and duration of congestion.

(c) In making the disclosures required by this section, a person engaged in the provision of broadband Internet access service shall publicly disclose in a timely manner to end users, edge providers, and the Commission when they make changes to their network practices as well as any instances of blocking, throttling, and pay-for-priority arrangements, or the parameters of default or “best effort” service as distinct from any priority service.

§ 8.5
No Blocking.

A person engaged in the provision of fixed broadband Internet access service, insofar as such person is so engaged, shall not block lawful content, applications, services, or non-harmful devices, subject to reasonable network management.

A person engaged in the provision of mobile broadband Internet access service, insofar as such person is so engaged, shall not block consumers from accessing lawful websites, subject to reasonable network management; nor shall such person block applications that compete with the provider’s voice or video telephony services, subject to reasonable network management.

§ 8.7
No Commercially Unreasonable Practices.

A person engaged in the provision of fixed broadband Internet access service, insofar as such person is so engaged, shall not engage in commercially unreasonable practices. Reasonable network management shall not constitute a commercially unreasonable practice.

§ 8.9
Other Laws and Considerations.

Nothing in this part supersedes any obligation or authorization a provider of broadband Internet access service may have to address the needs of emergency communications or law enforcement, public safety, or national security authorities, consistent with or as permitted by applicable law, or limits the provider’s ability to do so.

Nothing in this part prohibits reasonable efforts by a provider of broadband Internet access service to address copyright infringement or other unlawful activity.

§ 8.11

(a) Block. The failure of a broadband Internet access service to provide an edge provider with a
minimum level of access that is sufficiently robust, fast, and dynamic for effective use by end users and edge providers.

(b) Broadband Internet access service. A mass-market retail service by wire or radio that provides the capability to transmit data to and receive data from all or substantially all Internet endpoints, including any capabilities that are incidental to and enable the operation of the communications service, but excluding dial-up Internet access service. This term also encompasses any service that the Commission finds to be providing a functional equivalent of the service described in the previous sentence, or that is used to evade the protections set forth in this Part.

(c) Edge Provider. Any individual or entity that provides any content, application, or service over the Internet, and any individual or entity that provides a device used for accessing any content, application, or service over the Internet.

(d) End User. Any individual or entity that uses a broadband Internet access service.

(e) Fixed broadband Internet access service. A broadband Internet access service that serves end users primarily at fixed endpoints using stationary equipment. Fixed broadband Internet access service includes fixed wireless services (including fixed unlicensed wireless services), and fixed satellite services.

(f) Mobile broadband Internet access service. A broadband Internet access service that serves end users primarily using mobile stations.

(g) Reasonable network management. A network management practice is reasonable if it is appropriate and tailored to achieving a legitimate network management purpose, taking into account the particular network architecture and technology of the broadband Internet access service.

DVD Review: Parade’s End

“They could not have picked a worse person to review this.”

Those were the reassuring and entirely accurate words from my girlfriend after finishing Parade’s End.

I’m the guy who has managed to fall asleep during Downton AbbeyPride and Prejudice, and some third British period piece that’s making me drowsy just thinking about it.

And the beginning of Parade’s End had me worried I’d need to load up on Adderall ahead of time.

The five-part BBC-HBO miniseries billed as “spanning from the Edwardian era to the chaos and destructions of World War I” stars Benedict Cumberbatch as Christopher Tietjens—a man so good, he frustrates everyone around him to the point of madness.

[one_half][quote type=”center”]The five-part BBC-HBO miniseries billed as “spanning from the Edwardian era to the chaos and destructions of World War I” stars Benedict Cumberbatch as Christopher Tietjens—a man so good, he frustrates everyone around him to the point of madness.[/quote][/one_half]

And I mean just about everyone, whether it’s government officials frustrated that he won’t tweak the numbers, his wife (played by Rebecca Hall) he married because it was the right thing to do, or even the woman everyone is convinced must be his mistress—a young suffragette Valentine Wannop, played by Adelaide Clemens (who you may remember as Catherine from The Great Gatsby.)

To a certain degree, this even extends to the viewers. Tietjens understands the upcoming conflict that will ensnarl most of Europe in the next few years with a thoroughness that likely comes from narrative hindsight.

The best way to define Tietjens is he’s the reverse Walter White. While viewers find themselves rooting for someone who should by all means be a villain in Breaking Bad, I found myself becoming more and more frustrated with Tietjens’ stoic goody-goodiness. The fact that between Ford Madox Ford’s original 1920s novels and this production a character was crafted to create this much frustration is a testament to how good this is.

Following his journey from proper member of the social hufflebruffle to the foxholes of World War I is like watching a square peg try to fit in a round hole, only to have both become squircles.

I thoroughly enjoyed watching this miniseries, especially toward the latter parts. For people who aren’t into the usual pomp and circumstance of Victorian/Edwardian England, hang in there. It’ll be worth it by the end.

But how to watch it?

Do you have HBOGO? Then don’t bother with the DVD release. You’re just paying to have it on disc with zero special features.

The Blu-Ray does promise an NPR interview with writer Tom Stoppard, which might be worth it for Shakespeare In Love fans.

If you don’t already have HBO, then the $25 being asked for on Amazon right now is a very fair price for something that will keep you engaged for five hours.

As a side suggestion for a very Benedict Cumberbatch weekend, pick this up, along with Star Trek Into Darkness and then get caught up on Sherlock on Netflix before season 3 starts, eventually.

Final Fantasy All The Bravest: The cash grab to end all cash grabs

Before putting fingers to keys, I went through many different ways to begin this review. Don’t want to start off the new site with too much hyperbole after all. But after careful thought and consideration, I could only reach this conclusion:

Final Fantasy: All The Bravest is the most asinine cash grab I have ever seen.

From the screenshots provided in the iTunes Store, it looks like you’re buying a competent game. And yes, in theory, it’s competent. Insofar as I have yet to run into a crash or terrible lag issues.

It looks like a Final Fantasy game. It sounds like a Final Fantasy game. But appearances can be deceiving.


First off a little background: The battle system in Final Fantasy games starting with Final Fantasy IV used what’s called an Active Time Battle system. Instead of both sides getting one attack per turn, a gauge fills up for each character. Once it’s filled, they can attack.

In case you didn’t notice, All The Bravest shares the acronym ATB with the battle system. The game also features the sprites, music and ideas from the first six (well, more than that, but patience) games of the series for the initial $3.99 price tag. That’s where any connection with a Final Fantasy game ends.

Gameplay goes like this: See those enemies over there? Swirl your finger over your guys until they’re dead. Rinse, repeat. There is no strategy, no complexity, just swirl and tap and hope you make it through the fight. Don’t bother worrying about what spell your mage is going to use, that’s been chosen well in advance.

What happens if you don’t succeed? Well the battle scene freezes and you’ll get a character back every three minutes. Considering your party can hold up to 40 characters with enough leveling up and posting how much the game sucks on Twitter, that could be up to two hours.

For the impatient, Square-Enix has you covered. Gold Hourglasses will replenish an entire party. And because they’re such great people, the company spots you three whole hourglasses. And then requires using one to survive the first tutorial battle.

[two_third][box] Throwing this cash grab out there makes that game that held your kid’s fish hostage unless you paid up look saintly [/box][/two_third]

Want more? Fork over 99 cents for three, $1.99 for 8, or for the super-impatient there’s a 20-pack for $2.99.

The game consists of nine worlds with tiny elements borrowed from each game. Your battle path consists of the following in each world:

1) A couple of waves of mooks

2) A mini-boss

3) A few more waves of mooks

4) A boss you probably won’t be able to beat the first time, unless you’ve been grinding properly

Any character development you might remember from those first six Final Fantasy games has been wiped clean to match the complexity of the game.


But what if you’re a masochist like me, bought the game when it first game out, beat Neoexdeath after a few rounds and have nothing left to do? Oh there’s plenty. You can go back and find every last enemy and the useless weapon drops. Or you can go to the part where this cash grab turns simply amazing.

There are three more worlds available to explore: Midgar from VII, Zanarkand from X and Archylte Steppe from XII. Each of these World Tickets cost a mere $3.99. Each. If you’re keeping track at home:

Main game $3.99
First world $3.99
Second world $3.99
Third world $3.99
Total cost so far: $15.96 + Any additional Gold Hourglasses

“Kyle,” you’re asking, “Aren’t you being a little ridiculous? $16 isn’t that much. They charge $15.99 for Final Fantasy IV by itself in the store.”

I’m just getting warmed up.


It would be one thing if the game itself was only $16. But what you’re getting in the base game and in each of the expansions is just the generic classes: the monks, the warriors, the geomancers, etc. The good stuff is still behind the counter.

After all, who wouldn’t want to bring in all-around spike-haired icon Cloud Strife from Final Fantasy VII? He’s only heralded as being one of the greatest video game characters of all time. He can be all yours for just 99 cents—if you’re lucky.

Additional characters (read: the actual characters from games, not just generic classes) are available for 99 cents each. But to head off people cherry picking their favorite characters, Square-Enix made it random. That 99 cents means you get a chance at the character of your dreams. What kind of chance?

1 in 35.

That’s right, for 99 cents each, you can take a stab and test your luck at getting the character you’re lusting after (and if you are lusting after a character in this series, stop reading and seek help). And if you’re a completionist, that’s just $34.65 out of your pocket.

Let’s add it up again:

Main game $3.99
First world $3.99
Second world $3.99
Third world $3.99
35 characters: $34.65
Total cost so far: $50.61 + Any additional Gold Hourglasses

That’s right, more than $50 on a swirl and tap adventure with no complexity or skill required.

And just to spit in your eye, it’s really easy to acquire money in this game. You can’t spend it on anything, but it’s easy to rack up more than 5 milion gil by the end of it.

Maybe if Square-Enix didn’t charge for the base game and made the characters and/or hourglasses purchasable with the gil accumulated in the game, this wouldn’t sting as much. But throwing this cash grab out there makes that game that held your kid’s fish hostage unless you paid up look saintly.



Fire sales

Thursday, June 28, is circled on many nonprofit groups’ calendars as the beginning of a major fundraising push in fireworks sales. It’s also the beginning of a busy week for TNT Fireworks area manager Aaron Crawford. The third-generation salesman is TNT’s liaison to groups from northern Sacramento County all the way to Oroville. The season is not all whistles and crackles for Crawford, however. He spends his Fourth of July holidays on the road, making sure everything is running smoothly through a large swath of the Sacramento Valley.

How did you get here?

I’m third-generation at this. My grandfather started as a nonprofit stand manager in 1958. Four years later he started as a sales rep in the Bay Area. My father followed after him working during the summers in high school and became a sales associate. I started as a little kid working a little bit, but I started working more summers, went to college, stayed on when I graduated and moved up.

What are some of the big changes in fireworks you’ve seen?

There are different chemicals now and different colors. [They’re] a lot more vibrant than they were 10 to 15 years ago when everything was a lot of silver, gold and white light. Now you’ve got reds and yellows. We’re starting to see more blues and some pinks. … There’s been a shift away from whistles and toward crackles, but I’m sure that will come back around in a couple of years.

Mostly you’re working with nonprofits?

We work 51 weeks a year working with our groups, working with local and state agencies. … With a high-school booster group, the kids graduate and the parents move on, and you train a new set of volunteers … and ensure that it will be a smooth and easy transition for them.

What do you do on the Fourth of July?

On a normal Fourth of July, I’ll be at work at 6 a.m., travel to six or seven counties making sure my nonprofit organizations are finishing up well and head home at about 1 or 2 in the morning. On those normal years I don’t usually get to light off fireworks because my neighbors really don’t appreciate me lighting fireworks when I get home.

Last year, for the first time in about 15 years, I actually shot off fireworks on the Fourth of July. I got off work at about 6 p.m. and had my little stash and went with a bunch of neighborhood families and friends and celebrated for about three hours. It was absolutely fantastic.

What is the most dangerous fireworks situation you can recall?

This is going to sound really boring, because there hasn’t been much of anything. I shoot probably 3,000 to 5,000 pieces of fireworks each year, and every once in a while you’ll get an item … you wait and make sure it’s out, and you walk up to it, and you go, “Whoop, I gotta step back.”

I’ve heard people suggesting ways to modify fireworks. My favorite is pinching off a Piccolo Petes to make it explode.

You know that doesn’t work anymore? We hear the stories like everyone else, and we do background to mitigate anybody modifying our product. I’d suggest if you try to do it, you’ll split the sides of the fountain, making it improbable to get them to go off incorrectly. There’s another thing where they’ve tried to pour out composition to make a bigger item, but there is composition in there besides the pyrotechnics—basically a silica—to make sure it doesn’t do that.

There’s something in there to keep you from doubling your pleasure?

Yeah, crimping doesn’t work, and modifying by pouring out the composition doesn’t work anymore. … You never really want to modify anything. It’s a felony. You’re breaking the law the moment you take it out of its intended packaging. The state fire marshal really doesn’t like that, and they’re very good at prosecuting those folks. A lot of times though, it just doesn’t work.

Have you noticed an impact from the recession?

We’re noticing a lot of the government organizations we work with—state and local—have been stripped to the absolute bone. They have no way to help the nonprofit groups like they had in the past. The nonprofit groups have had funding from communities dwindle, so they’ve had to be very creative with how they fundraise and how they use their money. They are definitely in need. It’s across the board. These nonprofits are the ones that are out there at the frontlines helping our communities get back on their feet, and they are struggling themselves. Any dollar we can help them raise, we’d love to do it.

Tell me about Senate Bill 1468.

It’s a fantastic Senate bill. It passed the Senate 37-0, and it’s sitting in the Assembly the last time I heard about it. We’re hoping they see their way through to passing it, and in 2014, we’ll be able to sell fireworks in the New Year’s season and give the community the ability to celebrate legally with fireworks. It’s exciting.

The man behind the puppet

Being Elmo: A Puppeteer’s Journey

If you have kids, or know someone with kids, you know Elmo; the bright-red puppet who brings joy to children’s lives on Sesame Street. But without puppeteer Kevin Clash, Elmo would have been just another discarded piece of fabric. This documentary explores the roots of Clash and his passion for puppeteering that was born out of his Baltimore childhood. It’s like Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory, except with Jim Henson instead of Gene Wilder and years of hard work and sacrifice on public-access TV instead of a golden ticket in a chocolate bar.www.netflix.com.

Forget The Cabin the Woods; try this vacation home instead

Tucker and Dale vs. Evil

Disappointed by The Cabin in the Woods? Rather than going on another Firefly binge to remember what Joss Whedon is capable of, watch Tucker and Dale vs. Evil instead. A pair of rednecks, Tucker (Alan Tudyk, a.k.a. Wash from Firefly) and Dale (Tyler Labine) try to enjoy their new vacation home in the woods. Through a series of unfortunate coincidences, the two friends are hunted by a group of preppy, horror-film-victim caricatures who channel their fear into a series of painful, mostly unintentional deaths. It’s available on Netflix and a great way to wash that terrible-horror-movie taste out of your mouth. www.netflix.com.

Find life’s random milestones

Versaries app

Keeping track of birthdays is what a calendar is for. Keeping track of random numbers and numerical coincidences is what Versaries is for. The 99-cent iPhone app keeps track of the years, days and even seconds of your life with a steampunk feel. Add in when you started dating your significant other, and you’ll be reminded of more than just your regular anniversary; recently Versaries pointed out I’d been dating my girlfriend for 80 million seconds. Time seems to fly faster when you’re not counting by years. www.versariesapp.com.

March rat-ness

I never saw myself as a rat person, until my girlfriend brought home a snail. I certainly didn’t see myself spending a weekend watching basketball with a trio of rodents.

Lacey, the ever-caring animal lover that she is, couldn’t stand to let a snail, whose shell she pulled off trying to move it out of harm’s way, suffer. This meant an urgent trip to Petco to find all of the supplies to repair its shell.

On our way around the store, we found ourselves in front of the rat cages. On top of her expertise with snails, Lacey also knows a lot about rat care. It was pretty obvious with all of the adorable eyeballs on me that we weren’t walking out of here without a new pet.

Even as we were gathering the cage, the treats and anything adorable we could bribe them with, I was having second thoughts. All of the pets I’ve ever had were rescues from the SPCA. I’d rather adopt an animal than buy one stocked on a store shelf.

As if reading my mind, the cashier at Petco mentioned they had three female rats that had been abandoned together. We weren’t walking out of there without three new pets: Olive, the skittish brown-and-white one; Abby, the black-and-white food finder; and Rosie, the tan little ball of adorable.
The early going was rough. They didn’t know who we were, we didn’t know who they were. The only way to fix this was with a weekend bonding together inside watching the NCAA men’s basketball tournament. The terrible punishments I’m willing to go through for the care of animals.

Fascinating thing about college basketball: There’s a whole lot of sneaker squeaking. Fascinating thing about rats: They love squeaking. At least these three do.

After a game or two, the girls were sneaking out of their nest to look around their cage for the noise. Rosie gave up first, going to sleep in their second home—a graham-cracker box. Olive gave up the second she realized I was paying attention to her and hid in the main nest.

Then there was Abby. She was the one brave enough to come to the edge of the cage and see what was going on. She stood up watching the second half a foul fest between Michigan State and St. Louis. Thirty-five fouls kept her on her hind legs and glued to the TV.

Sadly, with the Final Four this weekend, I’m running out of regular basketball content that doesn’t require a cable subscription. But Abby doesn’t seem to mind. She’s adapted to catching up on The Walking Dead with me—outside of the cage now. I’m a little worried how fascinated she is whensomeone gets mauled by a zombie, though. Might have to put on The Waltons to take the edge off.

Cable and Internet bundling: It’s Comcastic!

Comcast  announced it believes it’s stemming the tide in cable-cutters today, saying it lost its fewest customers in the past 5 years. In the company’s mind, it’s clearly winning the battle against people ditching its cable service.

What Comcast fails to mention though, is that through a combination of bundling and its stranglehold on the market, it’s been able to fudge its numbers.

Take for instance my own Internet plan. The plan I’m on offers me Internet access, as well as a small selection of cable channels. While I was interested solely in Internet, a Comcast rep offered me a better deal if I added that small cable selection. That group of channels is pretty much what I’d get with an OTA antenna, along with a bunch of public-access channels and some of Comcast’s On-Demand selection.

The Comcast story jogged my memory, and I remembered it was almost the end of the 6-month period. I called up Comcast today to try and get rid of that pesky cable since it wasn’t worth the price increase.

Thanks to the deal, what I would pay for just the Internet connection alone would almost double without cable. That $40 a month for my Internet/cable would shoot up to almost $75. While I was discussing options for downgrading my connection, I noticed the Comcast terms mentioned a price range that started at $52.95, depending on certain factors.

Those factors? If I kept my cable subscription, I would be paying roughly $60 for the combo of cable and Internet.

That’s right, I would get the two services for less than the one service. How on Earth could I possibly pass up that kind of deal?

This is the kind of logic that’s allowed to exist in Comcast’s world. It and other cable providers are a government-protected monopoly. This means it’s free from the constraints AT&T and other providers who rely on phone lines have—that silly thing called allowing competitors to access transmission lines.

I’m currently weighing my options. As a result of its monopoly, Comcast is really the only option for a high-speed provider. The best I can do outside of them is AT&T’s 3-megabit connection. That pales in comparison to the 10-times as fast connection I’m getting now.

Because of the lack of options, Comcast can get away with fudging its numbers by offering ridiculous prices and claim it’s not losing any customers to its shareholders. But I wonder how many other customers out there are like me and only have the service because it’s the only thing keeping their bills from skyrocketing.

Thanks for nothing AT&T

July 11, 2008. The date this tangled web of fun with AT&T begins.

After waiting a few hours outside of an AT&T store, I finally got my hands on an iPhone 3G. I had purposely avoided the first one of a few reasons including the whole “college to a real job” transition and contract hullabaloo. But the day came when I moved from my AT&T feature phone to the brave new world of smartphones.

A few important things about signing up for a data plan in the day of the iPhone 3G:

1) There could be only one: AT&T’s exclusivity agreement with Apple was alive and well. This guaranteed the iPhone wasn’t going on anyone else’s network anytime soon.

2) All or nothing: The contract at the time of the initial iPhone’s release, and for subsequent releases until 2010, required customers sign up for an unlimited data contract. There wasn’t a choice of a few megabytes here or a few gigabytes there. It was all or nothing.

While that $30 plan would practically double my monthly bill, I was under the belief that at least I’d have unlimited access to my data as long as I was an AT&T customer.

Nearly 4 years later, AT&T has proven me wrong.

What I thought was an unlimited data plan, a few reps have explained to me, was actually a “well not really unlimited” data plan. But let’s not get ahead of ourselves.

In August of 2011, AT&T announced they couldn’t possibly keep up with the amount of data usage by smartphone users, so it was going to start throttling the top 5 percent of users. These people were looked upon as the devils of data usage, who would destroy a network from their unhealthy amounts of streaming as they gobbled up gigabytes upon gigabytes of data. Clearly there was no way an average customer could possibly be ensnared in that web.

At the same time, AT&T was also pursuing a deal to acquire T-Mobile and its spectrum. This will be important later.

October, the announced time for the grand data hog slaughter, came and went with little fanfare. It wasn’t until November when AT&T sent me a lovely little notice about halfway through the month:

AT&T Free Msg: Your data usage this month is in the top 5% of users. Use Wi-Fi to help avoid reduced speeds in future bill cycles.

I didn’t think much of it since my billing cycle was about to end in a week. But that Nov. 17 message made me reset my data count on my iPhone, just in case. And it turned out to be the best thing I could have done.

Thanksgiving week brought a surprise: After heavy pressure from the government against the proposed merger, AT&T pulled its bid for T-Mobile.

The morning of Dec. 8 greeted me with a pair of texts before the sun came up. The same benign reminder of my data usage, then the hammer. My data had been throttled.

For those of you who haven’t had the joy of having your data throttled, imagine you’re able to cruise the Internet with speeds around 3 Gbps—roughly the same as a mid-level DSL account. Now let’s slam the brakes on that to dial-up levels. This amazing device that’s supposed to let me surf the web and watch video now chokes on any Web page with an image on it.

Obviously, this infuriated me. I wanted to find out how on earth did I use so much data that AT&T felt the need to throttle me. Remembering I reset the data counter on my phone, I checked the numbers: Between 6-7 GB of combined upload and download traffic since a week before the billing cycle began. I’d used more data than that in the months before and hadn’t received a notice.

I was reminded on Reddit that AT&T had its own tool I could check on my phone. That post is probably one that AT&T will wish never happened. That was when I learned AT&T screwed up badly. Instead of the data I saw I had used on my phone, AT&T’s listing said I used more than 8 GB and was actually closing in on 9.

Time to call AT&T.

It took me four calls, one of which I was hung up on to finally get someone who said they’d investigate it. During one of those calls, an AT&T rep “corrected” me and told me no other cell providers are providing unlimited data for the iPhone. When I told him Sprint did he said they didn’t about four times before finally admitting he hadn’t seen any commercials about it in awhile. I barely watch TV and had just seen one a day or two earlier.

At this point I was halfway through my billing cycle. The investigation would take about a week. I got a call back a few days after the investigation was supposed to be complete, but they ended up kicking the can down the road saying “Well we have to wait for the final numbers to come out.” Eventually, at the end of the month, they credited me $25 for the data, which was slightly satisfying, but still disappointing. Oh and they still had no explanation for the missing data.

Fast-forward to this week when after not even 2 GB of data use this time, AT&T dropped the hammer on me. Amazing how the “top 5 percent” suddenly dropped to 2 GB.

I was able to peel out some more useful data from them this time. I ended up talking with a “manager” who was part of a pool of “managers” with no supervisor above them. Basically his job was to get me to be quiet and accept the fact my data wasn’t coming back to full speed until the end of the cycle.

He explained to me, for starters, that AT&T bases its data use on your billing area. If you happen to be on a family plan in a major city, but your billing area is in a rural area, you’re plopped into the rural zone. He said that everything has to magically be routed through the hub in the billing area before it gets to me. This is extremely important. Rural areas would obviously have a lower instance of data usage than urban areas. He pegged the “average” at around 1 GB for rural areas and 2 GB or so for urban areas. Who knows when he was drawing this data from (i.e. pre or post throttling)?

The general impression he gave was that AT&T was being hit hard by the lack-of-spectrum bug.

But even after I got off the phone with him and after numerous attempts to call and chat with AT&T customer support, there’s still one thing that bugs me.

See, a couple of weeks before my latest throttling, AT&T announced it was being benevolent and expanding its tiered data coverage plans. Now, for the same price as I’m paying for my unlimited plan, AT&T is offering a 3 GB plan with $10 penalties for every GB above that number.  I’m being capped at 2 GB because the network can’t handle it, yet AT&T is able to offer a plan with 50 percent more data than my “unlimited” plan.

On the one hand, you’d think “Oh AT&T is throttling its network because they can’t handle the load.” Yet, it’s offering a larger plan for the same price.

Currently, the only thing keeping me from jumping ship to Sprint—which still has an unlimited plan, despite what an AT&T rep might tell you— is a $135 early-cancellation penalty. Not even the specter of a new iPhone on the horizon would keep me from waiting to make the switch.

Nearly 4 years ago, AT&T signed up as many customers as it could to an unlimited data plan. There was no option to sign up for a smaller plan. It was all or nothing. Now, with a failed merger under its belt, AT&T has decided to take that option back by limiting access to the same features it promotes in its advertisements: Video, photos, Web.

If you’ve faced the same difficulties with AT&T, there is a modicum of hope. You can filed a quick complaint with the FCC about AT&T’s network practices. The form can be found here and can be finished online in 5-10 minutes.

It’s time to hold AT&T accountable for what it’s done.