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Data connections over mobile networks have varying levels of “priority”. These tiers, called “Quality of Service Class Identifiers”, or QCIs, determine who gets priority access (and therefore speeds) on the network. For example, on T-Mobile, someone with the “Go5G Plus” plan has a higher priority level than a customer on the “Essentials” plan.

On AT&T, customers will now have the option to pay for an extra add-on called “Turbo” that will move their service up a notch on the QCI scale.

According to a leaked image and video sent to us here at The Mobile Report, AT&T’s new “Turbo” add-on will be available to customers beginning May 2nd.

Our source claims that AT&T’s documents say they will actually prioritize certain types of traffic when using this new add-on, and that not all traffic will be higher priority. In fact AT&T does specify in their internal video that the add-on is ideal for customers looking to do the following activities:

  • “Live Sharing” or streaming
  • Gaming
  • Video Calling

That being said we doubt that’s the case, as it’s much easier to just change the QCI entirely.

The add-on costs $7 per month for each line the add-on is enabled for, and customers can enable it themselves in the AT&T app. Once enabled, the higher priority is activated “immediately”.

Apparently, this new QCI level will be QCI 7, which is what the plans originally were. We’re told that, basically, all eligible plans are now moved to QCI 8, and get the privilege of buying their way back into QCI 7. Not a very pro consumer move.

QCI 6, on the other hand, is reserved exclusively for emergency first responders only on the company’s FirstNet service.

While AT&T claims customers can “feel” the higher priority connection, it’s unclear how much of a difference this will make in the real world. Usually, priority levels only really come into effect when in a congested or high-use area. Therefore, customers in small towns and on towers that aren’t too busy likely wouldn’t see much of a boost by using this add-on.

It’s also unclear if such an add-on would run afoul of the FCC’s newly re-implemented Net Neutrality ruling, though I’m sure AT&T considered that before implementing. It does seem to be a sort of paid “Fast Lane” though.

The new add-on becomes available to customers on eligible plans on May 2nd, and costs $7 per month.

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