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When AT&T announced it would begin throttling cellular data bandwidth last year, a cry went out across the subscriberbase. But, said the carrier, it would only slow down the heaviest data users — the top five percent who abuse their grandfathered unlimited plans.

Customer John Cozen was recently surprised to find he was in that group. According to The New York Times, some users — like Cozen — started receiving notifications about their data being throttled due to overuse. But here’s the rub: He was throttled after just 2.1GB of data.

The NYT contacted AT&T spokesman Mark Siegel via phone, and he explained that the top five percent have indeed averaged 2GB or more per month, as of summer 2011. Even so, the company isn’t throttling everybody who hits that level — just those in the top five percent who are in areas weak in network capacity or spectrum. “There’s a very good chance you wouldn’t be slowed,” says Siegel, who added that less than one percent of AT&T smartphone customers had their bandwidth choked.

Okay, but then there’s Cozen’s point that the punitive measure makes no sense, since the carrier itself offers a tiered plan that allows 3GB of data for the same price ($30) as his grandfathered plan. It would seem the company’s own pricing structure contradicts the notion that 2GB of data should be considered abusive use.

What do you think? Is 2.1GB of data high enough to warrant throttling? Or has Cozen gotten shafted by an overreaching AT&T policy? Weigh in.

[via The New York Times]