AT&T's Speed Fix Is A $7 Monthly Turbo Boost Add-On For Priority Access

Holding a smartphone with "AT&T Turbo" and AT&T's logo on the display.
Starting today, AT&T customers can pony up a monthly fee for a new wireless feature that promises enhanced data connectivity and better responsiveness. The optional feature is called AT&T Turbo and users can tack it onto a qualifying plan for $7 per month per line, with the option to add and remove it whenever a customer wants.

According to AT&T, its Turbo add-on can enable smoother gameplay on mobile devices and bolster live video conferencing, social media livestreams, and other "high-performance mobile applications" as needed and/or desired.

"AT&T Turbo allows users the choice to optimize their network when they want by adding additional network resources to their mobile data connection. For example, if customers want less freezing or stuttering and lower latency when milliseconds matter in gaming, AT&T Turbo can help offer real-time responsiveness by improving the performance of customers’ data on the network," AT&T explains.

What this amounts to is priority access on AT&T's network, including hotspot data. While AT&T is short on technical details, the scuttlebutt is that this has to do with raising a customer's Quality of Service Class Identifier (QCI). You can sort of think of it as skipping ahead in line.

In a related FAQ, AT&T says its Turbo feature can help even during busy times on the network, which is perhaps when it might be most useful, though we'll have to wait and see. Customers should note that it doesn't allot any additional data, though, and that this feature doesn't apply to voice calls or text messaging.

AT&T also alluded to the recent reinstatement of net neutrality rules, suggesting that its Turbo add-on does not run afoul of the FCC's regulations on internet connectivity.

"Eligible customers will be in control of whether to activate this service, which boosts all the high-speed and hot spot data on a user’s connection while it is active. Consistent with open internet principles, once turned on the boost applies to a customer's data regardless of the internet content, applications, and services being used," AT&T says.

For the most part, net neutrality doesn't allow carriers to block or throttle traffic based on the source. In theory, the rules prevent an ISP from favoring certain content and services over others, and requires that all internet traffic be treated equally. There are certain exemptions, notably for emergency services.

AT&T contends that its Turbo feature falls in line with net neutrality, though it remains to be seen if customers will be keen on the prospect of paying extra money for the Turbo feature.
Tags:  wireless, cellular, turbo, 5G, at&t