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Old 12-18-2009, 02:00 AM
Reid Kistler
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Posts: 518
Default AT&T Considering Data Plan Surcharge for Heavy Users?

"AT&T is moving even closer to charging special usage fees to heavy data users, including those with iPhones and other smartphones. Ralph de la Vega, CEO of AT&T Mobility and Consumer Markets, today came the closest he has so far in warning about some kind of use-based pricing."

The idea of charging for, and/or placing a cap on, "excessive" data usage, always raises a firestorm of protest. Matt Hamblen, of Computerworld, managed to post a straight news story about comments made on this subject, among others, by Ralph de la Vega of AT&T. Having originally come to the "WWW" in the days of CompuServe and Prodigy, where we almost literally paid by the minute, the concept of tiered pricing does not seem out of bounds.

And if, indeed, "3% of smartphone users... are responsible for 40% of total data usage," and wireless bandwidth is truly limited, does AT&T have a point? Is there any method by which they could make data limits or pricing surcharges acceptable? Or, to play devil's advocate, might AT&T - or any carrier, for that matter - actually be better off if they simply dropped the highest data users?

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Old 12-18-2009, 02:17 AM
Join Date: Jul 2003
Posts: 740

It seems to me that the real issue here is a greedy, short-sighted management:

AT&T Has Spent Less on Network Construction Every Quarter Since the iPhone's Launch - Operationchokehold - Gizmodo
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Old 12-18-2009, 03:49 AM
Join Date: Dec 2009
Posts: 2
Angry When does it end?

Wait a minute. First AT&T decided to force PDA phone owners to buy the data package. Of course Verizon followed suit. Now after forcing customers to buy a product even if they didn't want it (IE; For someone that only wants to sync contacts, appointments, etc. with Outlook, but doesn't want to go on the Internet or get immediate email) the customer is going to be penalized for being injected by the dealer with the drug until they are an addict and forced to pay for the unwanted addiction. will be Verizon I suppose. Once the customers are hooked what next? Maybe they put us on withdrawal until we agree to pay more and more. Is it time for the Government to step in handcuff the dealers?fficeffice" />>>
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Old 12-18-2009, 04:36 AM
Join Date: May 2003
Posts: 984

Originally Posted by Fritzly View Post
It seems to me that the real issue here is a greedy, short-sighted management:

AT&T Has Spent Less on Network Construction Every Quarter Since the iPhone's Launch - Operationchokehold - Gizmodo
This is not a hard and fast analysis. The revenue numbers are broken out by wireless vs. wireline in AT&T's report, but those capital expenditures (which that chart very wrongly labels "[AT&T] spent less on network construction each quarter" - capital expenditures are not just investments in the network) are consolidated numbers for the entire business. It is entirely possible that wireless cap expenditures have increased, while wireline have fallen faster than wireless have grown.

I do not know that this is true, but neither does Fake Steve, nor Gizmodo, at least based on that report. (Though, if you look at the expense lines in wireless and wireline for "operations and support", you'll see that they have gone up year over year for wireless, while they have declined most of the time for wireline.)

(The report with these data is here).

AT&T is the piņata these days, I guess. (I'm a Verizon Wireless customer myself.)
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Old 12-18-2009, 02:29 PM
Join Date: Aug 2004
Posts: 88

The real issue here is that AT&T sold (required?) "unlimited" data plans for people that bought the iPhone. Now they want to change the rules simply because people are actually using (gasp) the devices they bought.

If they want to change the terms of the agreements upon renewal, that is their legal right and customers are free to go somewhere else.

The most interesting thing to me is the fact that the US Government has not come down on AT&T/Apple for monopolistic behavior. They're suing Intel for pushing exclusive relationships, what's the difference? At least Intel's products perform, AT&T, well, let's just say they could do better.
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Old 12-18-2009, 03:31 PM
Join Date: Oct 2005
Posts: 35

So, let me see if I got this straight...

AT&T charges me a premium to use their 3G network (as opposed to other not-quite-as-dumb-as-they-used-to-be phone users) for the same unlimited usage, now they've decided that in addition to that, I shall now pay an ADDITIONAL premium for actually using my 3GB of data/month.

Now, I'm no math genius (and I have never played one on TV), but 3GB/month does not seem to be the same as "unlimited"...but that's just me doing the math in my head quickly.

Honestly AT&T, if you want me to move back to T-Mobile, just send me a letter stating as would save both of us a lot of heartache. Let's not just stay together for the's not fair to them or us.
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Old 12-18-2009, 03:37 PM
Join Date: Jun 2002
Posts: 98
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Umm. Before you all get really excited, you guys are aware that AT&T has kind of backed off on this, aren't you? This story is unfortunately a little behind the curve since AT&T did the backpedaling yesterday.

There are a number of articles out there talking about how AT&T is saying now that they haven't decided to do this and that they were going to try alternatives like femtocells and wifi hotspots to try to help alleviate the problem. There's even a reference to AT&T considering incentives to encourage heavy users to use alternatives.

It doesn't fix the problem of AT&Ts over saturation in certain markets, but it may buy them enough time to bolster their networks in the most oversubscribed locations.
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Old 12-18-2009, 04:02 PM
Join Date: Aug 2005
Posts: 170

Firstly, as a Canadian user of the iPhone 3Gs on Rogers, I have to say that our network performance shines compared to what I am reading about AT&T's network in the US. At least where I primarily travel, which is Ontario, Quebec and Atlantic Canada.

Second, I consider myself a fairly heavy business user of both phone and data services and I would also say that my personal use increased a fair amount after getting my first iPhone 16 months ago. And even with what I consider to be fairly heavy usage, I average around 500-700 minutes of talk time and do a lot of emails with attachments and I have yet to exceed 400MB of data usage.

I bought the 6GB data plan "just in case" and "because I could" (and actually saved $35 per month over my old Windows data plan for 1GB), fully expecting that at the end of my 3-year contract the pricing would increase. And I have no argument with this as I support any kind of "user pay" system. However, how anyone can exceed 3, 4 or 5GB of data per month is beyond me. They must be streaming music, movies and YouTube 24/7 (or tethering, I guess).

Anyway, my point is, I am in total agreement with "you use more, you pay more" as long as it is not implemented mid-contract.
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Old 12-20-2009, 12:20 AM
Sven Johannsen
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A personal observation. I don't seem to have the issues with AT&T that most(many?) folks seem to have. I get decent data speeds, an rarely drop calls. I have to say I am not a heavy data or phone user, though I have both a WM phone (Pure) and an iPhone. I don't live in an excessively populated area, like New York, but it is a city.

That said, I signed a contract with AT&T that offerred me 'unlimited' data for a price, with the understanding that 'unlimited' meant 5G/month. I took the 'unlimited' to mean that AT&T would not charge me more for exceeding that ceiling, but I was prepared for them to take some other action. I expected data throttling or even cut off until the cycle was over. I have never hit that limit, far from it.

What I don't get is why AT&T has an issue, unless they are fraudulantly selling 5G of BW. For those that are exceeding it, I would think they would be perfectly within their rights to cut them off for the rest of the month. I do think they should make it dead simple to find out where you stand on data usage though. There should be an app for that If they indeed don't even have the capacity to support the 5G they contracted for, then there is an all together different issue, and I think it would be within my, and anyone's right to terminate the contract without prejudice. Yes I agreed to pay for 2 years, but they also agreed to provide specified service for that period.
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