AT&T offers 25% wireless discount to first responders, but plan can still be throttled

By | 7th September 2018

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  • A new AT&T first responders discount gets emergency staff 25 percent off the company’s two unlimited wireless plans.
  • However, first responders that take advantage of the discount still have to deal with data throttling.
  • There are also some significant caveats to earning the AT&T first responders discount.


Today, a new AT&T first responders discount is available to the brave and important folks who work in emergency services. The discount gets you 25 percent off one of the two unlimited wireless plans AT&T offers, as well as $15-per-month off your DirecTV subscription and $15-per-month off your AT&T internet service.

However, in the case of the wireless discount, there are some very significant caveats to keep in mind.

The first and most significant caveat is that the two unlimited plans on offer for the discount (AT&T Unlimited & More and AT&T Unlimited & More Premium) will still feature data throttling. This means that should a first responder sign up for a discounted plan, AT&T can — at its discretion — slow data speeds to a crawl for that customer.

Normally, data throttling is an expected caveat to unlimited wireless plans, but Verizon learned the hard way that throttling first responders isn’t a good idea at all.

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At the end of August, Verizon throttled data for first responders in California who at the time were fighting the largest wildfires on record for the state. The PR backlash was enormous and Verizon eventually un-throttled the plans, promised to leave them un-throttled for the duration of the event, and also preemptively un-throttled first responders’ plans in Hawaii (where Hurricane Lane was in full force). Verizon also promised to offer a completely unlimited plan with no throttling, but that never materialized.

To be fair, this AT&T discount for first responders is not a plan that was created just for them; rather, these are the normal plans that anyone could get, it’s just that first responders save money. However, it’s hard not to think that this could come back to haunt AT&T later.

There are other caveats to the discount, one of the largest of which is that first responders in Massachusetts are ineligible for the deal, as are employees of the federal government. Secondary first responders are also ineligible, as are retired first responders.

If you still qualify after all that, you must bring one of four eligible documents proving you are a first responder to an AT&T store to get your discount. You can see that list here.

Oh, and one more thing: AT&T does offer wireless services that are just for first responders via its program called FirstNet. However, that service is not mentioned anywhere on the page describing these first responder discounts.

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