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Tiered Data Plans Coming To the iPhone?

kdawson posted more than 5 years ago | from the too-good-to-last dept.

Cellphones 142

jfruhlinger writes "For years analysts have been insisting that Apple must introduce a cheaper iPhone, and soon. So, when Business Week heard that cheaper plans were coming, it reported the news in a positively giddy tone. But, I'm convinced that this is an under-the-radar move to shift to tiered data plans. Everyone who loves their all-you-can-eat iPhone data: enjoy it while it lasts."

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economics (4, Insightful)

RMH101 (636144) | more than 5 years ago | (#28009909)

Crap. It's just simple economics: if you want to lower the monthly charge for a phone on contract, you up the charges for calls and data. In the UK, if you want an iPhone on contract, you're looking at 30UKP a month plus the subsidised cost of the handset: this is a not-inconsiderable monthly charge. They'd sell to a whole additional demographic if they could push it out at 15UKP a month with a nearly-all-you-can-eat plan, with costs for going over your allowance - hell, I'd probably buy it myself - my 600 minutes and 600 texts a month gets barely touched, although I use the data a lot.
It would also give O2 a way of offloading all the surplus 3G iPhones cheap in advance of the latest model getting announced in June...

Re:economics (-1, Troll)

Jurily (900488) | more than 5 years ago | (#28010143)

It's just simple economics

From someone who can't get their own currency [wikipedia.org] right? Sorry dude.

Re:economics (1)

TheMightyFuzzball (1500683) | more than 5 years ago | (#28010477)

I understood what he meant, that's all language is about...

Re:economics (1)

PopeRatzo (965947) | more than 5 years ago | (#28011221)

Actually, that's not all language is about. There is much metadata in language that does a great deal more than just convey the basest meaning of the words.

Language is a signifier, too.

Re:economics (4, Insightful)

timeOday (582209) | more than 5 years ago | (#28010445)

...an iPhone on contract, you're looking at 30UKP a month plus the subsidised cost of the handset: this is a not-inconsiderable monthly charge. They'd sell to a whole additional demographic if they could push it out at 15UKP a month with a nearly-all-you-can-eat plan, with costs for going over your allowance... my 600 minutes and 600 texts a month gets barely touched

You're a perfect example of why they don't do it, and why unlimited plans in general survive. You said it yourself, you'd spend half as much on a metered plan. You think that's what they want, for revenue from you to decrease by 50%? That's pure profit; at half the price they'd need 3 or 4 customers to make the same profit because most of the first 15/mo would is "wasted" on, you know, providing service.

Re:economics (1)

RMH101 (636144) | more than 5 years ago | (#28010603)

"You're a perfect example of why they don't do it, and why unlimited plans in general survive. You said it yourself, you'd spend half as much on a metered plan. You think that's what they want, for revenue from you to decrease by 50%? That's pure profit; at half the price they'd need 3 or 4 customers to make the same profit because most of the first 15/mo would is "wasted" on, you know, providing service"
Think about it. The sales of the iPhone 3G are probably slowing as they reach saturation point with the geeks and posers (amongst which I count myself!) willing to not only pay 160GBP (yah boo!) for the handset, but also 30-35GBP a month for the contract. On that tarrif, you can get most other smartphones for free - this is a "premium" product, if you will.
Given there's a new iPhone model coming soon, people will be holding off: in short there's probably a large, untapped market of people that would be all over a 3G iPhone at 15UKP a month, who can't justify spending more than that on a mobile phone contract. So yes, I think there probably are 3 or 4 people who could be pulled in to such an offer.
It's also in Apple's interest to get saturation coverage with their platform as a real revenue source for the future - so I wouldn't be surprised if they eased up with the carriers to allow them to discount in order to encourage this.

Re:economics (1)

jimicus (737525) | more than 5 years ago | (#28011161)

Erm... what?!

The iPhone is available right now in the UK free on a £35/month tariff. OK, it's only the 8GB model but the 16GB model is about £50.

Re:economics (2)

PopeRatzo (965947) | more than 5 years ago | (#28011427)

So, with taxes and fees, it costs about $2000 to have an iPhone for two years.

Hey, that's practically free!

Re:economics (3, Insightful)

bennomatic (691188) | more than 5 years ago | (#28013223)

I'm not sure I understand this argument against the iPhone, as it's not specific to that product. If you get Sprint's "everything" plan, it's $99/mo, which is just shy of $1200/year or $2400 for two years. This is without taxes, and without the phone.

The cheapest plan I've seen with unlimited data is Boost's $50/mo plan, but I don't think you can get a smartphone through Boost, so you're using a less advanced phone with a smaller screen and a telephone keypad for browsing the web, sending emails &c. And that's still $600/year, or $1200/2 years plus taxes, plus phone.

Is there any smartphone/unlimited data phone/plan combination that's significantly less than the iPhone's plans? If the main difference is an extra couple of hundred dollars for the initial iPhone purchase, *that's* what you should be railing against, not the overall cost, which is really really similar between smartphone plans, IMLE.

Re:economics (1)

RMH101 (636144) | more than 5 years ago | (#28012959)

think about it. I paid 159ukp for a 16gb on launch. Plenty of other similar capacity phones of there for free at the time. It is only *now* that the 8gb one is free on contract, and this backs up my point that they're milking the 3g in advance of the new one coming out.

Re:economics (1)

rxmd (205533) | more than 5 years ago | (#28011139)

You're a perfect example of why they don't do it, and why unlimited plans in general survive. You said it yourself, you'd spend half as much on a metered plan. You think that's what they want, for revenue from you to decrease by 50%?

Well then I'm a perfect examle of why they should do it. I was looking for a new contract at the time. If the carrier selling it over here had had a reasonable plan, I would have changed to them. Instead I picked up a used iPhone for less than it would have cost new and use it with plan from a different carrier that fits my need. The only disadvantage is that I don't have warranty on my phone because I had to jailbreak and unlock it. The warranty, however, would have been close to expiry now anyway, and jailbreaking had a number of other significant advantages for me, so I'm better off in every respect.

If there had been a reasonable (for me) plan with the iPhone, I would have bought one new, Apple would have sold another phone, and the official carrier would have had a new customer. This way they have neither.

Re:economics (0)

PopeRatzo (965947) | more than 5 years ago | (#28011335)

You think that's what they want, for revenue from you to decrease by 50%?

Note the subtle shift away from what the consumer wants to what the corporation wants.

The "3 or 4 customers" that it would take, would bring market share, which over the long run brings profit. But they don't look at the long run, because they want to make the biggest hit right now. Then, when someone brings along a technology that does it cheaper this same short-sighted company is going to engage in anti-competitive actions to block that new technology. (VOIP apps on the iPhone, for example.)

So now, you've got a company doing everything it can to degrade the value to the consumer of its very own product.

This is why free markets will inevitably fuck things up, every single time. It's a predictable pattern: Make big profits, screw customers, treat customers worse, announce sexy new technology that's not quite as sexy as it appears, make big profits, screw customers. Rinse, repeat.

After enough of these cycles, we have consumers who become so beaten down that they worry more about the welfare of the company than their own interests.

Perfect example of why they MIGHT (1)

SuperKendall (25149) | more than 5 years ago | (#28012703)

You're a perfect example of why they don't do it

Sure, because any company would give up adding 3x the sales to people that would never buy the most expensive plan anyway, while still keeping most of the people on the more expensive plan who just want unlimited data...

It's simple math (and economics), if you can add a ton of customers it doesn't matter if you are collecting less per customer.

Re:economics (5, Informative)

mcvos (645701) | more than 5 years ago | (#28010457)

I'm really surprised to read that an iPhone subscription in the US costs $70 per month. Do people really buy iPhones at that cost? I'm paying EUR 30 per month, and although the euro is worth more than the dollar nowadays, it's not that much more. $70 is hideously expensive, and $70 without thethering is just criminal.

I'm glad to see a tech gadget cheaper in Netherland than in the US though. Must have been a first.

Re:economics (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28010547)

As one who moved from the Netherlands to the US, I can say that not only are all plans twice as expensive, the call quality is half as good.

Back home, my only phone had been a cell phone for the last 8 years. Here in Chicago, it can't fully replace the old wired phone due to dropped calls and crippling quality of the cell phone network.

Don't get me wrong, it is not like it is unusable, but it definitely isn't perfect either.

Re:economics (1)

feepness (543479) | more than 5 years ago | (#28013203)

That's Chicago. Not the entire US.

There's your problem.

Re:economics (2, Informative)

jasen666 (88727) | more than 5 years ago | (#28010709)

No. I have an iPhone on T-Mobile. My dataplan is an an extra $20 on top of my normal rate. I don't use many minutes, so have a cheap plan to start with, so my total monthly is around $50.

Re:economics (1)

nelsonal (549144) | more than 5 years ago | (#28011089)

That usually includes national long distance and several thousand minutes a month. Normal cell plans generally cost $40-$50/mo here (you pay for incoming calls but get lots of outgoing calls in your plan). What would a plan in Netherlands cost that included 2000 minutes of calls to any other Eurozone number plus unlimited data and unmetered evening weekend calls to any Eurozone number?

Re:economics (1)

Achromatic1978 (916097) | more than 5 years ago | (#28011883)

Trust me, nobody in the US is getting long distance and several thousand minutes a month for $70 a month in the US. My wife and I's combined account, with a data plan for each phone (hers is an iPhone), 700 minutes, with rollover, unlimited nights and weekends, and messaging, is $170 a month after taxes.

Re:economics (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28012097)

Iwas getting 1000 minutes, plus unlimited text, for $94.50 after taxes. Now I've lowered the number of minutes to 500, and added unlimited data for about the same amount.

Re:economics (1)

mcvos (645701) | more than 5 years ago | (#28011917)

That usually includes national long distance and several thousand minutes a month.

Several thousand? I never use more than a hundred. I believe there are more expensive iPhone subscriptions here that give you more minutes and more SMSs, but I really don't need that.

Normal cell plans generally cost $40-$50/mo here (you pay for incoming calls but get lots of outgoing calls in your plan). What would a plan in Netherlands cost that included 2000 minutes of calls to any other Eurozone number plus unlimited data and unmetered evening weekend calls to any Eurozone number?

The difference between the whole US and a single EU country is a really good point. When I call abroad, I pay extra. When I am abroad, I pay extra for both calls and data. International connectivity of EU phone networks is absolutely horrible. So basically a Dutch subscription would be comparable to a subscription where you had to pay extra when calling outside of Florida (or a similarly sized state).

But 2000 minutes? My other phone subscription is a SIM-only for a few hundred minutes a month (which I never use), for $5 per month. (I pay extra for each SMS, unfortunately.) On the other hand, we don't pay for incoming calls here. Only outgoing.

Re:economics (2, Insightful)

cayenne8 (626475) | more than 5 years ago | (#28011395)

"I'm really surprised to read that an iPhone subscription in the US costs $70 per month. "

Actually, I'm thinking of switching to save money...my current plan is starting to creep over $99/mo. I don't have texting on the current plan from Sprint...and it is starting to cost me as me and my friends are starting to use it more.

Yeah, the tethering things sucks on the iPhone, but, I understand there are ways around out.

But, to me, if I could get the iPhone with unlimited data and texting for the ballpark $80-$90/mo, it would be a good deal to me. I don't have a landline at home anymore, so I only pay cell phone.

Re:economics (1)

Zarf (5735) | more than 5 years ago | (#28011983)

$70 is hideously expensive, and $70 without thethering is just criminal.

I agree. This is why I don't own an iPhone. I've even written iPhone applications but I have not moved to selling them yet because in all honesty I have no way of knowing how they perform on a real iPhone since I only use the iPhone simulator. If I could get the iPhone with a very very cheap plan or no plan at all I would. And I would probably really expend the effort to write a real app instead of toy apps. That said, I am probably going to buy an iPod Touch but what I really want is that iPhone GPS feature so I can work out some app ideas.

Re:economics (1)

Brandee07 (964634) | more than 5 years ago | (#28012491)

My iPhone was added to a pre-existing family plan (550 minutes), not the minimum-level iPhone plan:

$50 First Line (iPhone)
$30 Unlimited Data (iPhone)
$10 Second Line (Cheap-ass handset)*
$15 Unlimited Texts (Cheap-ass handset)*
---
$105 + taxes and stuff

Total: $101/mo**, for two phones.

*Second line used by little brother and his BFF Jill. He pays me $45/mo for his share.

**My math doesn't suck (that badly). I have a 15% discount from my University of Maryland Alumni affliation, which I actually had to remove before the iPhone could be added to the plan- discounts like that can't be combined with an iPhone plan. I removed the discount plan, activated the phone, and left it at that. The next billing cycle the discount reapplied itself. I didn't complain.

Re:economics (1)

paulhar (652995) | more than 5 years ago | (#28011579)

I bought mine PAYG for this exact reason. My all-you-can eat data plan is going to be £10 a month when I have to start paying for it in a couple of months. I never call anyone (on this phone) or SMS.

Going to save me a fortune compared to buying one on contract...

Quote from the summary. (1)

narfspoon (1376395) | more than 5 years ago | (#28009931)

"Everyone who loves their all-you-can-eat iPhone data: enjoy it while it lasts."

I'm pretty sure the consumers will figure out this tiered data plan scheme trying to nickel and dime them. I'm betting we'll have our unlimited data plans for as long as we have had in

Re:Quote from the summary. (1)

christopherfinke (608750) | more than 5 years ago | (#28010153)

Just like consumers have figured out that it doesn't really cost the carriers $0.25 to send and receive each text message?

I don't live in the US you insensitive clod (4, Informative)

Norsefire (1494323) | more than 5 years ago | (#28009941)

Everyone who loves their all-you-can-eat iPhone data: enjoy it while it lasts."

In New Zealand on our iPhone plans [vodafone.co.nz] ,

  • the most expensive, $130/month, gets us 500MB.
  • The cheapest, $40/month, gets us 250MB.

All only available on a 24 month contract. My heart bleeds you for America.

NZ (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28009969)

Nice Sheep!

Re:I don't live in the US you insensitive clod (1)

AHuxley (892839) | more than 5 years ago | (#28010337)

Try the iphone costs in different parts of the word. the world.
http://www.numbersinaflash.com/ [numbersinaflash.com]
eg Top 10 Australian* iPhone Plan Calculator
Watch the monthly and total contract zoom up :)
*Optus is a wholly owned subsidiary of Singapore Telecommunications.

Re:I don't live in the US you insensitive clod (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28010553)

You can thank the New Zealand government for heeling to the masters at Vodafone and Telecom and being total imbeciles for not realizing that it's a lovely duopoly that has been created to fleece the New Zealand consumer. Vodafone New Zealand is one of the most profitable units of Vodafone International. Those profits all flow offshore....

Aside from the data, you forgot to mention that on the $80 NZD/month plan you get 250mb and...wait..hold on to your horses....a whopping 120 minutes of phone calls.

Signed,

An utterly disgusted Kiwi

Re:I don't live in the US you insensitive clod (1)

morgan_greywolf (835522) | more than 5 years ago | (#28010685)

Damn. Vodafone in NZ sucks. Even with the $130/month, you only get 250 anytime minutes?

I don't have any iPhone (nor will I get one since I refuse to use AT&T's price-jacked service with spotty coverage), but I have 3 phones with 800 anytime minutes shared between them, unlimited text and unlimited data for less than that price. I paid $0 for my phone, an LG Rumor messaging phone, and I think my wife paid only $50 after discounts and rebates for her phone (same one, but she got it when it first came out and the base price was higher than it is now).

Why are cellphones so expensive there?

Re:I don't live in the US you insensitive clod (3, Informative)

Isaac-Lew (623) | more than 5 years ago | (#28011079)

Live rates at 2009.05.19 13:55:38 UTC

130.00 NZD = 78.1904 USD

(According to www.xe.com [xe.com] )

Re:I don't live in the US you insensitive clod (1)

javacowboy (222023) | more than 5 years ago | (#28011357)

Everyone who loves their all-you-can-eat iPhone data: enjoy it while it lasts."

In New Zealand on our iPhone plans [vodafone.co.nz] ,

  • the most expensive, $130/month, gets us 500MB.
  • The cheapest, $40/month, gets us 250MB.

All only available on a 24 month contract. My heart bleeds you for America.

I think I speak for all Canadian cell phone users when I say that you Kiwis have it really good, relative to us, of course.

Here's an example:

http://your.rogers.com/business/wireless/plans_services/business_plans.asp?plan=dataservice&cat=2&typ=2 [rogers.com]

Who cares (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28010039)

Let me know when they start selling it unlocked and I can use whatever data plan on any network I want.

Yes I could unlock an iPhone or go to one of the few countries where they sell them unlocked for political reasons but I don't want to support their anti-competitive business model and their lawyers as they are working hard to find a loophole in the law so they can sell it locked & exclusive everywhere.

Down with these exclusive deals, the practice of SIM locking and other client-side restrictions. I have a factory unlocked Nokia E51 and when the last network I was on pushed up their prices I just got a new SIM card on another network.

In the US of A when someone asks me what phone I have they expect me to name the network, not the phone itself - they look confused when I say E51. With the iPhone European networks are trying to usher in a new era of proprietary "for the network, by the network" phones after years of GSM openness. People here are putting up with expensive plans from scummy Ohtue (Telefonica O2) just so they can have their stupid iPhone.

Buy the handset, not the contract. It might seem cheaper but really it never is in the long-run. Apple get generous kickbacks from AT&T and Ohtue, someone has to pay for those - the person who buys the iPhone. I can see why people buy phones on contract, its the same reason why people buy furniture on hire purchase. They are deluding themselves into thinking its cheaper and they have this attitude of wanting everything *now*

Re:Who cares (1)

beelsebob (529313) | more than 5 years ago | (#28010283)

Let me know when they start selling it unlocked and I can use whatever data plan on any network I want.
Okay then... Here's your unlocked iPhones legally for sale [mobistar.be] .

Re:Who cares (1)

mcvos (645701) | more than 5 years ago | (#28010611)

Buy the handset, not the contract. It might seem cheaper but really it never is in the long-run.

I think I calculated that when I bought my iPhone. Let's see if I can reproduce those results:

An unlocked iPhone costs about EUR 600. My T-Mobile iPhone cost about EUR 200 (possibly a bit less, I think). I'm paying EUR 30 per month. I'm not sure how much a SIM-only subscription that includes UMTS would cost, but I think a SIM-only without UMTS that's otherwise as generous as my iPhone subscription would cost EUR 10 per month. So I'm paying EUR 20 * 24 months - EUR 400 = EUR 80 for 24 months of unlimited UMTS.

I'm not really feeling ripped off here, although I admit I made a couple of assumptions, and you as iPhone user you do get less choice than as SIM-only user.

PS: Slashdot doesn't handle the Euro symbol properly. Looks like â.

Euro-Symbol (3, Informative)

atrocious cowpat (850512) | more than 5 years ago | (#28011293)

PS: Slashdot doesn't handle the Euro symbol properly. Looks like â.

Apparently the HTML-Entity works, I saw it in another thread:
& euro ; (withot the spaces) gives you: €.
Viola. :)

The psychology will be interesting... (4, Insightful)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | more than 5 years ago | (#28010067)

In observing iPhone users of my acquaintance, and in my vicinity, I've gotten the impression that one of the things that separates it from the touch, in their perception and use, is the "always connected" aspect of it. The being able to use the internet and internet related applications more or less without thinking about it, unlike the touch, where you have to be near a friendly AP.

Given that, I'd be very curious to see how it would fare under a limited data plan. Having to think about the data you are using really crimps the casual and spontaneous nature of the use(just as, when I was on dialup, "being online" was a separate state from "being on the computer" even though the dial-in process only took a couple of minutes, tops. Once I got broadband, even crap DSL, the two became more or less synonymous). If there is a large population that just wants an iPhone for music and/or status, then this should be well recieved. It should also be popular, assuming the price is low enough, with anybody who currently has a touch and a carrier throwaway handset and wants to consolidate.

Outside of those populations, though, an iPhone on a limited data plan seems rather unattractive. Strictly as a phone, the iPhone is merely OK, and pretty damn expensive for what you get. The charm is in what it can do with a data connection. Having to look over your shoulder at your usage all the time would seem to render that less attractive.

Re:The psychology will be interesting... (4, Interesting)

tgd (2822) | more than 5 years ago | (#28010227)

Unless the tiers are pretty low, it may not impact most users.

I just checked -- in the time since I had my iPhone replaced when the battery blew up (end of last August) I've transferred 1.1GB over cellular down, under 100MB up. I use it constantly for "normal" sort of stuff -- Pandora in my car once or twice a week, lots of e-mail. Lots of web surfing. Maybe 20% of the time I update or install apps when I'm not on WiFi.

That's barely 150MB of downstream transfer a month. There may be power users who use vastly more, but they probably should be paying vastly more. Even a 500MB or 1GB cap per month would be more than enough for the majority of users, I'd bet.

Hell, looking at my usage, a pay-per-minute phone plan and a 500MB per month cap would be fantastic if it cut my bill in half. I've got almost 5000 rollover minutes built up because of less than 50 minutes of month of voice usage. I hate being stuck on high voice usage / "unlimited" data plans.

Re:The psychology will be interesting... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28011295)

first they came for the power users and I said nothing because my downloads are less than 150MB per month...

Re:The psychology will be interesting... (3, Funny)

The End Of Days (1243248) | more than 5 years ago | (#28011571)

First the power users thought I should subsidize them, and I said "Fuck you!" because I don't see why I should do that. Then the power users tried to sway me with emotional pleas and slippery slope arguments, and I again said "Fuck you!" because it seemed like the right response.

Re:The psychology will be interesting... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28011905)

you know who else wanted to charge for tiered iphone data usage? well do you?

Re:The psychology will be interesting... (1)

DeathMagnetic (1365763) | more than 5 years ago | (#28012067)

If you consider yourself a "normal" user and you use 150MB a month, why on earth would you expect the reduced-price, limited-bandwidth plan to have a cap anywhere near 500MB or 1GB? AT&T is in the business of making money and they're not going to offer a new plan that will cut the typical user's bill in half, sorry.

Re:The psychology will be interesting... (1)

garcia (6573) | more than 5 years ago | (#28013077)

I just checked my usage (I don't tether and I don't consider myself a heavy user, at least not compared to what I did with my T-mobile Sidekick) and I have over 400MB of data usage in the last 16 days. If they move to tiers, I'd drop this thing like a hot potato.

Re:The psychology will be interesting... (1)

alen (225700) | more than 5 years ago | (#28010243)

most people who want an iphone already have one.

unlike PC's people will gladly buy 2 year old cell phones. these are the ones that the carriers give away for "free". as the iphone gets ready to launch it's 3rd gen hardware and software Apple and AT&T are probably going to give away 8GB 3G iphones for free with cheaper data plans to capture the low end of the market.

with NPAC and number portability it became easy to switch phones and carriers and keep your number. The next wave in cell phones is carrying around all kinds of apps on your phone to help you get through the day. Unlike phone numbers you can't take the apps with you if you switch phones, you'll have to buy them all over again. this is a plan by apple to get the low end of the cell phone market using apps on the iphone so they don't go to anther phone OS.

Nokia, MS, RIM and Palm are all going to have app stores with thousands of apps soon. Apple is trying to get people to use their apps first so they don't go to a competitor later

Re:The psychology will be interesting... (1)

yumyum (168683) | more than 5 years ago | (#28010661)

most people who want an iphone already have one.

Not according to the WSJ [wsj.com] .

Re:The psychology will be interesting... (1)

trawg (308495) | more than 5 years ago | (#28010281)

Given that, I'd be very curious to see how it would fare under a limited data plan. Having to think about the data you are using really crimps the casual and spontaneous nature of the use(just as, when I was on dialup, "being online" was a separate state from "being on the computer" even though the dial-in process only took a couple of minutes, tops.

As always, Australia is ahead of the game with data limits!

My brother has an iPhone with a 200 (or 250 - can't remember) MB data limit. I think its AUD$49 a month; excess fees look like they're AUD$0.35 / MB.

He uses it all the time; never worries about using it, and never comes close to using 200GB of data. Seriously, you'd have to be really, really whaling on it more than he does to use more than 200GB of data a month (unless you were tethering and using it on your PC).

I don't really know how 3G works but I would have guessed it people were using it constantly for frivolous purposes then it would reduce the efficiency of the network? Maybe 3G is magic and that's not an issue, but I'm all for data caps if that's the case.

Re:The psychology will be interesting... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28010771)

300mb is 15 normal podcasts.

I my phone as a phone (which is why I have a nokia E51 -- it works really well as a phone). I also use it to listen to music, but if it stinks at playing music that's okay.

I'm listening to podcasts, internet radio, or last.fm constantly. For the first time since I was 15 and had a walkman (with an fm radio) I don't really mind toting around a random piece of electronics. I don't have any music in the device itself -- everything comes over the air and either gets deleted if I listen to it (podcasts) or was never on the device to begin with, except in a random buffer while I'm listening to the music.

So -- that 300mb limit will get really small if you start using these things (internet, cell network, phone) to replace both radio and cassette tape...

Re:The psychology will be interesting... (1)

mobby_6kl (668092) | more than 5 years ago | (#28012179)

I'm glad Vodafone here offers tiered data plans. I get 100MB/month for around 8 bucks, and that's more than enough for mail, RSS, maps, chatting, light browsing, some online radio or a few youtube videos. Going over the limit doesn't cost me anything, but the network is supposed to be throttled, though it never happened to me.

They also have an unlimited (== throttled after 3GB) plan for about $32, and a flexible one which scales from $8-37 depending on your monthly usage. With this one, I'd normally pay what I do, except if I transfer more data it switches to the next step (300mb) and so on.

Of course I'd like them to offer more, but their 3G coverage sucks here anyway so this structure is perfectly fine for now, IMO. I could dig up my past payments if I had more time, but IIRC I usually got up to around 80-85mb or so.

Re:The psychology will be interesting... (1)

Lally Singh (3427) | more than 5 years ago | (#28010291)

I don't think it'll change that feeling much. I use maybe 25mb a month on data, probably peaking (when traveling) at 50. I don't really care about streaming video or music, just a few web pages and google maps. Mobile optimization for the former and caching for the latter keeps that number from going up very much.

Re:The psychology will be interesting... (1)

whisper_jeff (680366) | more than 5 years ago | (#28010373)

"Having to look over your shoulder at your usage all the time would seem to render that less attractive."

And this is precisely why I have not bought an iPhone yet. Being in Canada, I have to deal with Rogers' plans which are quite limited and, if I'm going to spend a stupid amount of money on a smart phone, I want to be able to use it's internet capabilities without ever worrying about how much data is being transmitted. Unless and until Rogers changes that (or another option becomes available that lacks a limit), I'll continue to do without. That said, for every person like me, I strongly suspect there's someone out there who knows they don't come close to their data limit each month and would be eager to pay less to have a data plan that fits their needs...

Re:The psychology will be interesting... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28010431)

Even if I did want to pay Rogers' exorbitant prices, they don't even have coverage where I live, in a 100-150km radius around the town.

Re:The psychology will be interesting... (3, Insightful)

horatio (127595) | more than 5 years ago | (#28010519)

Here's my issue with the idea that AT&T is complaining the iPhone is using too much data, so they have to scrap the unlimited data plan. Said "unlimited" data plan is already limited - just not in a strictly by-the-numbers bandwidth fashion. There are several things I know of that I'm not permitted to do while on the 3G network:
  • Apps > 10MB have to be done on the desktop version of iTunes, or over wifi.
  • The (new) slingplayer app only works on wifi (would have been useful to know BEFORE paying $30 for the app. Do the WinCE/crackberry versions have this restriction?)
  • Podcasts are limited to to those which the iPhone allows. You can subscribe in iTunes and sync, but you can't download podcasts > 10MB on 3G.
  • I'm sure the lack of flash is about Apple exerting control over the platform, but I wouldn't be surprised if it was also about bandwidth.

I'm not suggesting that the iPhone should be a platform for fetching the latest Ubuntu ISO on the 3G network. But for AT&T to play like iPhone users have unlimited options to use as much bw as they like is just not reality.

Re:The psychology will be interesting... (1)

nine-times (778537) | more than 5 years ago | (#28011097)

Well I just think it's silly to provide a data network and then complain that your customers are using it too much. What if your cable company complained you were watching too much TV? Or your landlord complained that you were in your apartment too much?

If you can't provide the service, then get out of that business and leave it to someone who can. But no, that's not the problem. They're looking for a PR excuse to raise prices, or maybe a government bailout.

But you're right, the whole complaint is made that much more ridiculous by the fact that most of their traffic is normal web traffic. It's not P2P filesharing or VOIP. Just web traffic.

Re:The psychology will be interesting... (1)

Chaos Incarnate (772793) | more than 5 years ago | (#28011367)

The (new) slingplayer app only works on wifi (would have been useful to know BEFORE paying $30 for the app. Do the WinCE/crackberry versions have this restriction?)

No, the other versions don't. The information was available before release, but I'm not sure how widely disseminated (nor what the app page says).

Re:The psychology will be interesting... (1)

mdwh2 (535323) | more than 5 years ago | (#28010957)

In observing iPhone users of my acquaintance, and in my vicinity, I've gotten the impression that one of the things that separates it from the touch, in their perception and use, is the "always connected" aspect of it. The being able to use the internet and internet related applications more or less without thinking about it, unlike the touch, where you have to be near a friendly AP.

Every phone these days is "always connected" (it's been years since we got rid of WAP). The only issue is the cost, but just because it's not "unlimited" doesn't mean you have to be paying lots everytime you use the Internet.

I'm on Pay As You Go, but I don't worry about checking a web page or my email. I'm sure that the 5p it costs me works out much less that the cost of contract + handset of the Iphone, anyway...

when I was on dialup

But most broadband providers have data limits. Phones today are comparable to that. The problem with dialup was when you had to pay by the minute, which was comparable to the ancient WAP phones of the last century.

I have an iPhone (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28010077)

I expect "Tiered" plans to come out so users can take advantage of tethering because currently their Wireless access for computers is tiered.

And currently, with Wi-Fi (which works AWESOME on the iPhone) I have only gone over 100MB once in the entire time I've had it. I'm just hoping that there are price plans available for cheaper.

Re:I have an iPhone (1)

DrgnDancer (137700) | more than 5 years ago | (#28010357)

Yeah, I'm personally not seeing the sinister here. No one has said anything about removing the unlimited plan for those who want it, but I'd seriously consider a cheaper plan with a cap. I probably use WiFi hotspots for 75-80% of my Internet traffic and I doubt I use more that a few hundred MB a month on the cell network. I'd hate for them to remove the unlimited option, but there's no evidence so far that they plan to.

Re:I have an iPhone (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28012443)

I think the main worry here is "unlimited" will probably get MUCH more expensive.

I just wish I could use my existing AT&T plan (4, Interesting)

Scyber (539694) | more than 5 years ago | (#28010085)

I'm grandfathered into an unlimited 3G Data & SMS plan for $20/month. Now they have a tendency to call me and leave voicemails when I use too much data (telling me that I must "upgrade" to a different plan). But I just never call them back and don't run into an issue.

Better make sure that phone continues to work. (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28010255)

AT&T has been doing that to my mom ever since they changed from AT&T, Cingular and then back to AT&T... Seems my mom was in contract(with automatic renew) for $40.00 a month for 1500 mins. needless to say they wont upgrade her phone, wont help her out without forcing her to make a new contract for less mins (450). Good Bless her she wont.

Re:Better make sure that phone continues to work. (2, Informative)

bkaul (1235970) | more than 5 years ago | (#28012313)

AT&T phones use SIM cards. You can pop your card into an unlocked phone that you buy somewhere other than an AT&T store with no problem - no new activation required. (I'm actually using an HP iPAQ 614c, which isn't even sold in the US.) You only need to cave and sign the new contract if you want them to subsidize your phone.

Re:I just wish I could use my existing AT&T pl (1)

park3r (833325) | more than 5 years ago | (#28010395)

That's interesting. I had a $15/month MediaNet unlimited data plan, but when I bought an iPhone 3G, they forced me to upgrade to the newer $30/month data plan. They wouldn't have sold me the phone otherwise. But then, I never get calls about using too much data, even when tethering on the road.

Re:I just wish I could use my existing AT&T pl (1)

Richard_at_work (517087) | more than 5 years ago | (#28010417)

And you wonder why they won't let you use your existing plan? :)

Re:I just wish I could use my existing AT&T pl (1)

dogzilla (83896) | more than 5 years ago | (#28010867)

How much data do you use? I've been wondering how far you can go before they start complaining.

Re:I just wish I could use my existing AT&T pl (2, Informative)

Scyber (539694) | more than 5 years ago | (#28011759)

I never tracked it precisely, but after getting the calls I checked my usage and every time it was over 1GB for the month. I used to use the phone tethered to my laptop during my commute (90 minute each way). I no longer have such a long commute, so I don't use nearly as much data.

Sometimes... (5, Funny)

Bicx (1042846) | more than 5 years ago | (#28010087)

...I use my wife's iPhone to scrape ice off the windshield.

It felt good to get that off my chest.

Re:Sometimes... (0, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28010205)

That's funny because I use your wife's iPhone to scratch my balls.

Re:Sometimes... (5, Funny)

mcvos (645701) | more than 5 years ago | (#28010657)

...I use my wife's iPhone to scrape ice off the windshield.

Doesn't surprise me at all somebody wrote an app for that.

Re:Sometimes... (1)

spamking (967666) | more than 5 years ago | (#28010903)

Can't you just use the cool lighter app to melt the ice?

Re:Sometimes... (1)

mdwh2 (535323) | more than 5 years ago | (#28011151)

Does Apple allow that, or do you need to jailbreak it first?

Re:Sometimes... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28011369)

Need to scrap the ice off your windshield?

There's an app for that.

We are all Australian now (1)

AHuxley (892839) | more than 5 years ago | (#28010135)

Where a huge telco dumbed down a generation into believing every packet up and down is sacred.
Dont let this start, rage against the AT&T and Apple.
Expose the greed and lock in.
This should make every US phone user think: "They are doing this so they can get rid of older accounts which are truly unlimited"
After caps are in the only way to get a "deal" is to buy more services from the same company.
Find your inner "AT&T and Me" or "Apple and Me" (ie. Roger & Me), upload to any flash video sites and expose this data model before it can start.
eg. Start a "get a packet" viral ad, with I'm a Mac and I'm AT&T
Re write the AT&T 1993 "You Will" ... pay ... ad.
Enjoy US "parody" laws :)

Bait and switch? (0, Troll)

Andy Smith (55346) | more than 5 years ago | (#28010137)

As far as I'm concerned the "product" of the iPhone includes unlimited internet access, because that was one of the advertised features. Removing that feature would be no different than, say, removing the ability to receive incoming calls.

Re:Bait and switch? (3, Insightful)

Richard_at_work (517087) | more than 5 years ago | (#28010439)

As long as they make this plan change after your initial term is up, it isn't a bait and switch - no one is forced to provide the same service indefinitely, especially when the original contract has expired.

Re:Bait and switch? (2)

The Cisco Kid (31490) | more than 5 years ago | (#28010971)

The iPhone 'product' is a hardware device, produced by Apple. You purchase it outright for cash in a one-time transaction.

Internet access (unlimited or otherwise), as well as 'the ability to receive (or make) calls' are services provided by a telecom company, which you pay an ongoing monthly fee for.

For the most part, when you buy the hardware device you are also forced to subscribe to the service from (a particular) telecom company.

You sound like you are 'all for' forced bundling of the two, as opposed to free market competition. Good luck with that. I'd prefer choose and purchase a device. and then (separately) choose and purchase service. Eg I consider a "device" product (which I might use with one or more of a variety of service products) as entirely and wholly seperate from a "service" product (which I might choose to use with one or more of a variety of device products)

Re:Bait and switch? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28011781)

If it was just a piece of hardware 'product', why was it big news when the EU forced apple to sell thier 'product' without vendor lock in? Why was there a period of time where you couldn't get an iphone without a contract, including unlimited internet?

The sad part about our society is that marketing becomes reality, and as long as the iphone is advertised with variations on "The whole internet not just...", the iphone is worthless without a contract, its a body without a soul, and people want to purchase that soul along with that body.

pay for features (2)

fermion (181285) | more than 5 years ago | (#28010157)

What has happened so far is that ATT charged for new featured. When it went to 3G, text messages were no longer included. What is the next feature users want? tethering. A laptop will use more bandwidth, so this is likely going to be another plan. Ideally there will be a cheaper plan for users who want a cheaper plan. Then there is the feature that many want, which in the US is availability through Verizon, which allegedly did not want Apple to control the platform. It seems reasonable that if Verizon gets an iphone like device, it will set the plan as it wishes.

Beyond this I do not see tiers. Most cell companies do not seem to be moving in this direction.

$20 unlimited (1)

Sandbags (964742) | more than 5 years ago | (#28010225)

I still have and love my Gen 1 Edge iPhone. I'm paying the $20/month unlimited data INCLUDING the 200 free texts. There's NO WAY they'll get me to pay MORE to have the same plan on a new phone... I'm about 20 months in since purchase and have not reset my usage stats. I'm 1.8GB in, and that's over Edge! (plus another 200MB uploaded) ...and I only really started using Pandora heavily about 4 months ago, so although my average pings in at about 100MB/month, I'm likely averaging closer to 200MB currently. I also expect that to increase with 3.0, and my usage to increase over time with new games, multiplayer interactions, and more and more web enabled content.

If they plan on getting me into a new phone (or keeping me much longer beyond the end of my contract), they'll need to match Sprint and Verison's $99 unlimited everything plans...

I only subscribe to the 400 minute plan currently, so I'm under $70 a month. Moving to 3G would have added $15 a month to my plan, and with the big benefit being 3G with half the battery life, and considering 95% of my surfing is on wireless anyway, i never saw the point in the upgrade...

A snazzy new faster model with better battery life and a good camera will tempt me, but if the plan prices for unlimited data go up any more, Honestly, I'd rather take my phone to another provider and buy a good pocket didigtal camera with the savings... My wife's already on Verizon, so i can switch my line to her plan without signing a contract.

Re:$20 unlimited (1)

aaarrrgggh (9205) | more than 5 years ago | (#28011743)

I'm in the same boat, but remember that you paid an extra $300 up front which is $12.50/month. The 3G isn't that much faster in real life use (processor and memory control a number of things), and it ends up on Edge often enough (in Los Angeles!) that the other benefits are minimal.

I contemplate moving back to a Blackberry for improved flexibility and better plans! The iPhone may be a premium product, but AT&T's service is by no means a premium offering.

I hope the telcos do some serious soul-searching when pricing smart-phone plans this round. I think they could do themselves a lot of harm. (I am even considering dropping back to a "dumb" phone to keep the costs under control!)

I miss my old Nokia 770 with bluetooth connection to a cheap phone. I think Apple might stand to gain something with a cheap phone with tethering ability to a Touch.

Rollover data (3, Interesting)

Algan (20532) | more than 5 years ago | (#28010427)

What I would like to see is rollover data. Right now I'm paying $30/mo for an "Unlimited" data plan (which is really just 5GB/mo). My average cellular data usage is around 60-70MB/mo. 95% of my time is spent in places that have wifi coverage. If they would offer a 100MB plan for $10/mo with rollover data I'd be on it in a heartbeat.

a crap story (4, Interesting)

cornercuttin (1199799) | more than 5 years ago | (#28010455)

"For years analysts have been insisting that Apple must introduce a cheaper iPhone, and soon.

i'm not going to read this story based upon the above quote. the iphone has been out for almost 2 years. you don't get to use the phrase "for years" when talking about something that technically isn't 2 years old. this is an attempt to make this story a bigger deal than what it really is.

Re:a crap story (1)

yumyum (168683) | more than 5 years ago | (#28010665)

That was my first thought as well. Simply nuts.

Just Hold Out For Verizon (1)

CyberSlammer (1459173) | more than 5 years ago | (#28010667)

Their plans beat anything that AT&T can offer, and they are soon to offer the IPhone, so AT&T is going to lose a slew of customers over this.

The challenge (1)

Registered Coward v2 (447531) | more than 5 years ago | (#28010855)

is if enough users track data usage - easy enough to do with an iPhone and discover a lower capped plan is cheaper then ATT will lose revenue - the question is will they get enough additional subscribers to make up for the loss? Also, will they increase the contract length if you switch plans?

Apple App Review Process (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28010873)

As as iPhone app developer I'm seeing increasing numbers of rejections from the AppStore review process due to "excessive volumes" (this isn't quantified anywhere, nor will they explain the review process - they don't answer emails).

In the iPhone SDK Agreement section 3.3.15, is prohibited:

" If an Application requires or will have access to the cellular network, then additionally such Application:

- Must comply with Apple's best practices and other guidelines on how Applications should
access and use the cellular network;

- Must not in Apple's reasonable judgment excessively use or unduly burden network
capacity or bandwidth;"

Forget watching decent quality video in an app! 100kbps (one hundred) will get you rejected!

tiered data = use it for anything (1)

ukyoCE (106879) | more than 5 years ago | (#28010881)

A plus side to the death of unlimited data plans would be the ability to use your data plan for anything.

Want to use Skype? Bittorrent? Tether to your laptop? Go for it. It's your data.

There's no "abuse" when you're the one paying for it.

Re:tiered data = use it for anything (2, Insightful)

Pitr (33016) | more than 5 years ago | (#28011783)

That only works if you assume that "logic", "fair use" and "common sense" are at play here. i.e. I paid for and own my cell phone so I can unlock it and do what I want with it right? (I'm in Canada, so actually I can, but not so much in the US, your mileage may vary by state)

Point being, if you pay for data, it shouldn't matter how that data is used, period. It shouldn't even matter on unlimited plans. Data is data. Everyone here on slashdot understands it, as do the providers, but why not gouge the consumer anyway, it's not like there's a regulatory body in charge of making sure the consumer is protected against this sort of thing... /sarcasm

I spoke to an AT&T rep... (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28011829)

I called an AT&T rep and they said that the $30 unlimited plans would continue next month. They don't see it coming to an end anytime soon. Why the hell did the article say that the $30/month plan for unlimited data is going to end? It's not.
Businessweek doesn't even say anything about that. It just says that AT&T is going to offer cheaper tiered data for $20 a month, but they won't do away with the unlimited.

Re:I spoke to an AT&T rep... (1)

papasui (567265) | more than 5 years ago | (#28011971)

I'm not taking a stance one way or the other on this arguement, but the people on the phone are often the last to know about any type of future change until the last minute.

Why does it cost this much? (2, Interesting)

man_ls (248470) | more than 5 years ago | (#28012029)

Why do 3G data plans cost this much? Why are providers fighting to drop unlimited data plans whenever they've existed to go back to tiered models?

I was looking into purchasing a 3G data card to use as my primary Internet connection, since I primarily use a laptop anyway and frequently am traveling or otherwise on the road.

Verizon: $59.99/mo for 5GB (or $199.99/mo for 10GB, which is only available by request and not advertised.)
AT&T: $59.99/mo for 5GB
Sprint: $59.99/mo for 5GB
T-Mobile: Had trouble finding specifics for a standalone card, gave up looking.

So, there you have it: all the major carriers offering this service, offer the exact same product at the exact same price. (The product being wireless 3G data access, anyone who wants to mention the modulation differences is being pedantic.) Price-fixing and collusion, anyone? Sprint used to offer an actually-unlimited data plan, but as far as I know, that ended quickly and their pricing fell right in line with that of their "competitors." It would actually be cheaper for me to purchase multiple 5GB accounts than to just use a single device the entire time.

Why is it like this? Surely, the cellular networks aren't so much lower capacity than regular networks are. It's not like everyone would suddenly ditch their cable/DSL/fiber service and switch to 3G anyway: most people don't need or even want that. I'd be willing to pay about $100/month for true-unlimited 3G service, but I just can't find anyone willing to sell it to me.

I think the FTC and FCC should open some investigations on this subject. Especially with these companies spending billions to "upgrade their infrastructure" in a way that, apparently, provides consumers with fewer choices and more restrictions.

Re:Why does it cost this much? (1)

aristotle-dude (626586) | more than 5 years ago | (#28012189)

It costs that much because you basically are getting unrestricted access to to a finite network because they have no control over what you can load on your laptop.

The cell networks are not only of a lower capacity than regular networks but you are basically sharing network nodes much like the old days of cable where you would have only a few nodes for a large area and everyone would get bogged down.

What do you suggest they do? Cellphone towers can only be built up to a certain density and there is no way of knowing what density of users will be present at any one time within a particular cell and yet there is a finite capacity on each cell.

I have a dedicated wired ISP at home that I use for my data needs on my computers. Why would I need or want to use cellular networks for my main data?

Just Like a Crack Dealer (1)

nurb432 (527695) | more than 5 years ago | (#28012095)

The first one is always free. Get people used to the device, then start squeezing them.

Re:Just Like a Crack Dealer (1)

joeyspqr (629639) | more than 5 years ago | (#28012363)

C'mon ... you know you want to. everyone's doing it!

Just checked usage... (1)

P. Legba (172072) | more than 5 years ago | (#28012229)

...since I got my iPhone at the end of December, I have used 287 MB down and 50-odd MB up on the cell network.

Most of what I do is on Wi-Fi, evidently. I've used it tethered in a few emergencies (I'm a journalist) and I'm fairly cavalier about downloading stuff. I guess I just happened to be doing it while on Wi-Fi without really thinking about it.

I would hate to have to think about it, though, and check. That would suck.

People's Revolution (1)

doronbc (1434117) | more than 5 years ago | (#28012459)

OMG fuck them, it DOESN'T need to cost that much. I have an htc Winmo phone on evdo service, Cricket in Colorado 60/unlimited everything, CDMA unfortunately, but when you start paying those outrageous fees, they're going to think it's ok, but it's not at all.

Makes sense: Tethering (1)

RudeIota (1131331) | more than 5 years ago | (#28012513)

Tiered data plans are no surprise at all, since Apple is supposed to release tethering capabilities with the new iPhone firmware. The average net usage on an iPhone is substantially lower than that of almost any laptop user and like it or not, AT&T will charge more... a LOT more. Heh.

I agree with tiered pricing, in a sense. People who check their email 3 times a week and look for coupons occasionally shouldn't pay as much as the guy next door downloading 1080p movies from Bittorrent. However, the amount that companies WANT to charge you for REAL, UNLIMITED data is in the hundreds [slashdot.org] ... For tiered pricing to make sense, we need to have reasonable prices.

What's reasonable? Well, that's subjective, apparently.

Slight exageration there (1)

JustNiz (692889) | more than 5 years ago | (#28012647)

>> For years analysts have been insisting that Apple must introduce a cheaper iPhone...

Seems an excessive statment given iPhone first went on sale less than a year and a half ago.

Quite Honestly (1)

Greyfox (87712) | more than 5 years ago | (#28013035)

The unlocked Nokia E70 I had prior to getting my iPhone was really a better device for about the same price. It had wifi, a built in SIP client and I could tether to my laptop with Bluetooth so that I could access the Internet from anywhere on a device actually intended to access the Internet. I had it set up to connect to my home wifi and register as a SIP device with my asterisk server there, so I could use the same handset for both landline calls and cell calls. It wouldn't have taken a lot more effort to originate a landline call from anywhere with a decent WAP, though I suspect that firewalls would prevent that sort of thing at most public ones.

The usability issues with the E70 were a postage-stamp-sized screen, atrocious battery life (Probably to be expected due to having to maintain the wifi connection while I was home) and T-Mobile constantly changing the data plan. They eventually required signed applications to get to the net, making it useless to me since my phone wasn't.

Once my contract on my iPhone expires I'll be looking at other devices again. Even if I find a decent one I'm still not guaranteed to find a cellular provider in the US that doesn't suck.

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