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AT&T Moves Closer To Usage-Based Fees For Data

timothy posted more than 4 years ago | from the applied-price-theory dept.

Cellphones 441

CWmike writes "AT&T has moved 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, came close on Wednesday to warning about some kind of use-based pricing while speaking at a UBS conference. 'The first thing we need to do is educate customers about what represents a megabyte of data and...we're improving systems to give them real-time information about their data usage,' he said. 'Longer term, there's got to be some sort of pricing scheme that addresses the [heavy] users.' AT&T has found that only 3% of its smartphone users — primarily iPhone owners — are responsible for 40% of total data usage, largely for video and audio, de la Vega said. Educating that group about how much they are using could change that, as AT&T has found by informing wired Internet customers of such patterns. De la Vega's comments on data use were previewed in a keynote he gave in October at the CTIA, but he went beyond those comments on Wednesday: 'We are going to make sure incentives are in place to reduce or modify [data]uses so they don't crowd out others in the same cell sites.' Focus groups have been formed at AT&T to figure out how to proceed."

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441 comments

Time Machine (4, Insightful)

sopssa (1498795) | more than 4 years ago | (#30380910)

Welcome back to 2000. Data-usage fees per MB were common place back then. Now it's all based on the actual bandwidth, 512kbit/s, 1mbit/s and so on, like it really should be. Use how you want to. In Europe that is.

It's funny to think that USA should be the best nation with technology and infrastructure, but still your internet connections suck this much.

Re:Time Machine (3, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30380982)

Comcast was yelled at for throttling access to "heavy users," but slashdot linked an article where it proved that heavy users do not actually impact performance on the network for everyone else. (Hence, the throttling was a bogus move.) My question is does this extend to cell networks?

It sounds like De La Vega is saying it's going to improve service when they educate smartphone users, and the users curb their heavy usage. Does heavy usage of a smartphone impact service for other phone users? Or is this another bunch of bunk?

Re:Time Machine (2, Insightful)

kobaz (107760) | more than 4 years ago | (#30380990)

There are still plenty of providers that charge by the MB. But maybe those are just US providers. For web hosting and dedicated/colocated servers, many plans will say 1500GB per month allowance and then something ridiculous like $3/GB overage fees.

95th percentile billing is generally standard for good colocation. And probably should be the standard for all bandwidth billing (if it's not unmetered/unlimited)

Re:Time Machine (1)

sopssa (1498795) | more than 4 years ago | (#30381082)

This is why I use colocation providers that instead of 1500GB per month allowance or such tell you what speeds you can except. Like for example you get 50Mbps at peak times, 100Mbps at non-peak. It's still a shared line, but you pretty much get what is promised.

Usage-based billing is just trouble some and doesn't really make sense for the hosting providers either. They pay peering for the bandwidth, not per usage. Allowance is just there arbitrarily limiting the users, so they wouldn't use all the bandwidth they're promised.

Re:Time Machine (3, Informative)

PrescriptionWarning (932687) | more than 4 years ago | (#30381492)

I currently have a Palm Centro with AT&T and decided not to pay for the "unlimited" data plan which is about $30 per month I believe.

However, I have on a couple occasions needed to use it to look up directions on google maps while in my parked car. A few minutes usage, and no more than about 1/2 a MB later I find a $5 charge added. Thats $10 per MB... RIP-OFF! If they did something like $10 per GB I'd be perfectly fine with that, since I wouldn't use the thing for video and music anyway, but to be able to occasionally check email or reviews on products before I purchase them that would be a reasonable amount.

Re:Time Machine (4, Insightful)

MichaelSmith (789609) | more than 4 years ago | (#30380996)

I suppose that would be possible if every part of the network could carry the maximum traffic of all the lines it feeds. But in practice that is not the case. For service delivery (lets say power) we pay a mixture of fixed costs for infrastructure and volume charges for the resource we use. I think that is the best way to go economically and it is fairer on all users as well.

Re:Time Machine (1)

Bught_42 (1012499) | more than 4 years ago | (#30381360)

The problem is that internet isn't like a power line. Once the line is setup the cost to deliver any given MB of data would be extremely small. All the network infrastructure has to be on anyways and the amount of power required to send the data is trivial, the companies themselves pay very little for data since they just do peering (paying for the difference in traffic volume between two ISPs). With power they actually have to create additional electricity when you turn on a device.

The problem is that they aren't going to be charging fractions of a cent per GB they are going to be charging much more.

Re:Time Machine (4, Insightful)

Trepidity (597) | more than 4 years ago | (#30381026)

As a technical reason, I'm not sure why charging based on the bandwidth is superior, if you know that the vast majority of customers don't max out the connection most of the time. Charging by usage seems a little closer to capturing the proportion of resources a customer uses in that case.

There are other downsides to it, but they seem mostly like social ones, not technical ones. For example, people don't like feeling like they're being metered, and it has a chilling effect on a lot of online services if people have to worry about their bandwidth usage.

Re:Time Machine (1)

sopssa (1498795) | more than 4 years ago | (#30381186)

Social ones are mostly the problem. If I have to think that this action (visiting slashdot, downloading something, streaming music) will cost me specific amount, I rather don't do it. Add to that the fact that in most cases ISP's/operators charge a lot per MB, and it just sucks.

Technically it makes more sense to charge by bandwidth too. ISP's itself pay for peering by bandwidth, not usage. They just have to calculate how much their customers statistically use bandwidth and adjust their peering agreements by that (calculating that they still make profit in it). Like you said, not all of the customers are going to max all the time, or even near.

Re:Time Machine (1)

Trepidity (597) | more than 4 years ago | (#30381364)

While ISPs do pay by bandwidth (though large ones just peer directly with no exchange of money involved), I'd suspect their bandwidth usage, which is the aggregate of their customers' bandwidth usage at any given time, is better predicted by customers' data usage in MB, than by the size of customers' local bandwidth channels. If a bunch of your customers on 512 KB/s links start using their phones twice as much, that's going to have a bigger impact on the ISP's bandwidth needs than if a bunch of your customers with 512 KB/s phones upgrade to 1024 KB/s phones.

(There are some cases where that wouldn't be true, like if usage is super-peaky with nearly everyone doing data transfer at the same time of day, but I suspect that's not the usual case.)

Re:Time Machine (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Psychopath (18031) | more than 4 years ago | (#30381060)

It's funny to think that USA should be the best nation with technology and infrastructure, but still your internet connections suck this much.

By any rational standard the USA is far from the best nation in terms of communications infrastructure. I'm not sure who is, but Japan comes to mind. The USA is probably in the top 10% somewhere.

Re:Time Machine (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30381546)

20th place, last I looked, for wired broadband. I'd doubt we're much better than that for wireless.

"Instead of upgrading infrastructure to keep up with increasing demands, and be ready for the future, why not just charge more for people who use their phones a lot? Then we can get bailed out by the government for failing by falling behind."

Re:Time Machine (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30381072)

the majority of our country developed in an age of cars (post WW2). While some expantion was made prior to this was made on vast frontiers like the old American west. over extremely long distances.

Europe developed over many thousands of years based apon the distance a man/horse could travel. placing towns much closer together.

This has put an exponential stress on our instructor such as pipelines and tel-cos.

that said some ports of the us have it better then others. A generic statement about the US does not apply, this is a very big country.

this also is a reflection on our public transit system as well. though personally i think big improvements could be done to fix that.

Re:Time Machine (1)

Wyatt Earp (1029) | more than 4 years ago | (#30381188)

*Bonk*.

The majority of the US was developed before the age of cars. Honestly cars as the main means of long distance transportation began after WW2. Where I'm from in western South Dakota there are a line of towns along a railroad line, spaced out every 7-10 miles because thats where the rain stops were for grain and cattle.

In the eastern US communities are spaced by walking/riding distance and also how much food can be grown. If the soil and environment are good, then towns can be spaced closer. Population densities are always higher near the sea and river systems.

When you say "Europe" you mean central and western Europe, because looking at European Russia, they have some vast expanses like the Midwest and Great Plains have. So really what you are looking for is that the spacing of communities are based on geography and geology, not cars.

Re:Time Machine (2, Insightful)

sopssa (1498795) | more than 4 years ago | (#30381252)

The fact that USA is a really big country doesn't really matter. Like USA, not all of Europe is heavy-density populated. Scandinavia for example has much smaller population density than USA, but in cities people get 100mbit/s to home, even 1gbit/s. If you're living off a city, 24mbit/s is common place. And no such bullshit than usage fees.

Re:Time Machine (2, Insightful)

CannonballHead (842625) | more than 4 years ago | (#30381078)

USA should be the best nation

It's politically incorrect for the USA to be the best nation in anything nowadays.

Re:Time Machine (0, Troll)

cromar (1103585) | more than 4 years ago | (#30381274)

One can see how in your insular world you might believe that. The only people who use the term "politically correct," or who are concerned about it philosophically are those opposed to "it." It's really a way of putting other people down for being careful with their words. Also for making yourself look persecuted by the imaginary speech police. Have the balls to say what you want and let other people do it too.

Re:Time Machine (0, Offtopic)

CannonballHead (842625) | more than 4 years ago | (#30381434)

say what you want and let other people do it too.

It's not just words. Where have you been?

I am fine with you saying what you want to say. I'm even fine with you saying I live in an insular world. But I'm not fine with certain double standards - like being called "white" and not being able to say "black" and things like that.

And, of course, we could get into Christmas celebrations and all that. I don't have a problem with celebrating - even in *gasp* public schools - "Christian" holidays while not celebrating every other religion's "winter-ish" holiday. That is what comes from being in a country that has a predominant culture. If that changes, fine... but forcing it to change from the top down seems strange, to me...

Re:Time Machine (1)

cromar (1103585) | more than 4 years ago | (#30381514)

See, I am not trying to insult you, but how many Black people do you know? Maybe the places we live are vastly different, but I suspect you don't know any Black people if you think that "Black" is a "bad word." I really don't mean that as insult, I just don't think you know what you're talking about :) Maybe I'm wrong.

Celebrating a holiday is much different from forcing the celebration of a holiday is very different from forcing faith in a particular religion.

Re:Time Machine (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30381296)

Except capitalism and democracy. How's that working out for you?

Re:Time Machine (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30381370)

It's politically inept for the USA to be the best nation in anything nowadays.

There, fixed that for you.

WE'RE NUMBER ONE!!!!! (1, Troll)

mcgrew (92797) | more than 4 years ago | (#30381532)

It's politically incorrect for the USA to be the best nation in anything nowadays.

Hey, we're #1 in a lot of ways:

  • We spend more on health care per capita than any other nation (too bad the actual care isn'n near #1)
  • We have the world's deadliest armed forces
  • We incarcerate more people per capita than anyone else
  • We have the world's greediest corporatti (although it can be said that the corporatti belong to no nation; nations belong to them)

Re:Time Machine (4, Insightful)

interkin3tic (1469267) | more than 4 years ago | (#30381120)

Another sense of Deja vu: years ago AOL started offering unlimited connection, appearntly expecting people to not actually start using much more time.

The results of ATT's experiment duplicate the results AOL got about 10 years ago. So obviously this is taking ATT by suprise. Different company. Different product: this is phones, not dialup! And of course they can't be expected to think about wheter or not they could meet demand before offering it.

Re:Time Machine (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30381180)

I would welcome pay per MB as an option if it didn't come with a $30 minimum fee per month. I want a fancy phone, but I don't use enough data to justify what they charge me for having a "smartphone".

Re:Time Machine (4, Funny)

elrous0 (869638) | more than 4 years ago | (#30381224)

Don't worry, AT&T's network coverage sucks so bad that no one will ever be ABLE to get close to the limit.

Re:Time Machine (4, Insightful)

Znork (31774) | more than 4 years ago | (#30381242)

More like welcome to the telecom industry of the last century; an industry whose main product was a huge accounting system that also happened to include phone functionality.

To discern the real intentions one does not need to look further than phone calls and SMS. They're metered. They deal with 'heavy users'. Are they cheaper per amount of data you transfer?

Personally I'd rather sponsor some heavy users with a few percent of my bill than pay the thousands of times the actual cost that we somehow seem to end up with when having metered access.

Re:Time Machine (1)

ArsonSmith (13997) | more than 4 years ago | (#30381446)

Yea, I have 110v power in my house, i should have a flat fee and not be charged by how much I use.

Re:Time Machine (1)

jsepeta (412566) | more than 4 years ago | (#30381468)

i'm ok with data usage fees if it puts AT&T out of business. or if by default i'm opted-out of receiving spam and ads i have no interest in that are embedded in web pages.

at&t, please fuck off.

Profit (2, Insightful)

Ractive (679038) | more than 4 years ago | (#30380970)

It's a business opportunity for other ISPs to offer unlimited access and compete with these greedy assholes.

Re:Profit (1)

Obyron (615547) | more than 4 years ago | (#30381080)

I'm not sure why you'd say that, since the article is about cell phones which are usually vendor locked. Sure, you might be able to buy unlocked smartphones on eBay, but the vast majority go into an AT&T store and buy the thing. And then there are the contracts... Joe Bob goes into AT&T and buys a Blackberry, and to get the best deal he gets locked into a 2 year contract. Even if he pays the early termination fee, he still can't use his locked phone on another network.

Re:Profit (1)

Ractive (679038) | more than 4 years ago | (#30381356)

You're right, should've RTFA first.
But in my country, there's vendors who are advertising (heavily) the fact that they sell their phones unlocked, they're trying to capture as much users as possible, others offer unlimited access but with hidden fees and stuff, but others advertise (again, heavily) they have real unlimited access, that's competition.
Someone said in another comment that this is like going back to y2k, he must have not read the article either, but on the other hand the current state of cellular networks is somewhat comparable to landline access in those days, the difference is that phone access came after everybody was accustomed and expected unlimited access, Vendors offered it and then they couldn't handle it, hence this announcement.
I think the trend is going to be the same: technology will allow faster transfers and competition will do the rest.

Re:Profit (1)

Anonymous Psychopath (18031) | more than 4 years ago | (#30381132)

It's a business opportunity for other ISPs to offer unlimited access and compete with these greedy assholes.

How are you defining "greedy"? I haven't read their financial statements but I doubt their profit margins are out of line with the rest of their industry. Seems like lately a company is automatically labeled "greedy" if they expect any profit at all. So what's greed? Is it 5% margin? 10%? 25%? Where's the line?

Re:Profit (4, Insightful)

sarahbau (692647) | more than 4 years ago | (#30381272)

I'd say greedy is luring in customers by advertising unlimited access, requiring them to pay $30 every month for two years for that access whether they need unlimited or not, and then deciding that they're using too much of their "unlimited" connection. I still don't understand how it's not illegal to advertise something as unlimited, and then limit it.

Re:Profit (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30381384)

The line is where "I" draw it. They are greedy when they expect me to stay after they move it.

The classic double speak (4, Informative)

pixelpusher220 (529617) | more than 4 years ago | (#30380978)

Claim: 3% of users consume 40% of bandwidth

Telco solution: We must charge everyone based on usage!

If they can identify 3% of people are using 40%, then by all means put a 'cap' on the fixed price service that *doesn't* affect the 97% of normal users. Charge for extra service for the offending 3%. They just use this as an excuse to slap everyone with higher rates.

What a joke (2, Interesting)

yabos (719499) | more than 4 years ago | (#30381016)

They won't want any less money than the get now so people with data plans who use 100MB or something small like that will still pay the bend-over-and-take-it price they do now. Then people who use the 5GB that is allowed on the data plans will have to pay even more. Somehow I doubt AT&T is losing money charging the average iPhone user $100 USD per month.

Re:The classic double speak (4, Interesting)

Glendale2x (210533) | more than 4 years ago | (#30381042)

Sounds like they're targeting the iPhone, only from AT&T.

Company with fanatical users (Apple) creates a product that is data-heavy. AT&T must have seriously botched their usage projections, not bothered to do any, or figured they're just foist extra fees on their customers when it started to be a problem because they know anyone wanting an iPhone can't jump ship to a competitor.

Re:The classic double speak (2, Insightful)

prockcore (543967) | more than 4 years ago | (#30381298)

figured they're just foist extra fees on their customers when it started to be a problem because they know anyone wanting an iPhone can't jump ship to a competitor.

Sure we can. If they foist extra fees that are not included in the contract I signed, then the contract is void and I can leave immediately.

Re:The classic double speak (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30381462)

I'm guessing most Apple iPhone users would actually have to think hard before jumping out of a burning airplane if it meant giving up their precious ;-)

Re:The classic double speak (1)

theghost (156240) | more than 4 years ago | (#30381304)

Time for Apple to abandon to sinking ship that is AT&T if they want to retain their leadership position in the field.

Maybe they needed the $ from the exclusive contract at first, but now that the brand is established, it's just dragging them down.

Re:The classic double speak (3, Interesting)

interkin3tic (1469267) | more than 4 years ago | (#30381342)

I'm really suprised they didn't try to blame this on jailbroken Iphones using tethering. It seems exactly like the type of thing they would scapegoat it on. They're trying to discouage both, and I could -actually- believe that's a -part- of it.

I'm guessing they so misjudged usage that even if they stamped out tethering they still would be over, so they're trying to charge even people who aren't tethering.

Re:The classic double speak (1)

Azureflare (645778) | more than 4 years ago | (#30381554)

When my 2 year contract is up, I will definitely jump ship to Verizon if they implement this. The droid isn't that bad for what I use my iPhone for (mostly Google Maps when I'm lost in NYC.... which doesn't really happen that much anymore). I just don't use anything else on it reliably since I got my PSP, except maybe internet, but the Droid does that, too.

Re:The classic double speak (1)

geekmux (1040042) | more than 4 years ago | (#30381234)

If they can identify 3% of people are using 40%, then by all means put a 'cap' on the fixed price service that *doesn't* affect the 97% of normal users. Charge for extra service for the offending 3%. They just use this as an excuse to slap everyone with higher rates.

The sad part is todays blood-sucking lawsuit-happy society is a customer could probably sue on grounds of discrimination with your solution...

The really sad part is they would likely win.

Re:The classic double speak (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30381248)

They signed an unlimited contract.... With the disclaimer that said subject to change without the their consent.

Re:The classic double speak (1)

TehCable (1351775) | more than 4 years ago | (#30381352)

Claim: 3% of users consume 40% of bandwidth.

Uh... should this statistic be shocking? At any given point in time, if you isolate out the top 3% of users, how much of the bandwidth SHOULD they be using? Should it be closer to 3%? That would mean everybody is using the exact same amount of data. All this statistic says is that data usage is not evenly distributed, but we're talking about a packet switched network. At no point in time does a packet switched network EXPECT equal usage of bandwidth. If they expected bandwidth to be used evenly across all users at all times, they would have built a circuit switched network. At any given point in time, most connections are just idling. Why don't they just release a statistic that reads "99% of network bandwidth is consumed by active connections." How about a billing plan where you pay for unlimited data, but if you don't use it, they'll refund your money?

Re:The classic double speak (1)

pixelpusher220 (529617) | more than 4 years ago | (#30381516)

never said it was shocking. Many times though, the usage statistics are simply made up (72.4% of them in fact!).

But assuming the figure is accurate for the moment, the problem is when the Telco devises a cost per MB/GB plan that ends up charging 80% of their customers more. If 3% are the problem, then change the plans so that 3% see the costs incurred by their excessive usage. The normal result is a 'cap' set so low just about everybody gets into the metered range. Which is exactly *not* what they were claiming in the first place.

Re:The classic double speak (1)

stoicfaux (466273) | more than 4 years ago | (#30381540)

Claim: 3% of users consume 40% of bandwidth Telco solution: We must charge everyone based on usage! If they can identify 3% of people are using 40%, then by all means put a 'cap' on the fixed price service that *doesn't* affect the 97% of normal users. Charge for extra service for the offending 3%. They just use this as an excuse to slap everyone with higher rates.

Except that high bandwidth is the future. 4G will essentially allow desktop like bandwidth to your cell phone. Telcos need to get everyone used to the idea of higher bandwidth fees and the telcos had better use those fees to upgrade their networks now to handle the eventual bandwidth crush.

Designing a phone interface that would actually allow you to make good use of all that proposed desktop bandwidth is left as an exercise to the reader.

Newsworthy? (1)

ground.zero.612 (1563557) | more than 4 years ago | (#30380980)

Yet it's still cheaper to pull data from the HST? It's really a shame we let these CEO's and large corporations rape us on a daily basis.

Usage distributions are often expontential (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30381012)

Usage distributions are often expontential or look near to an exponential distribution (other distributions would be power-law distribution or pareto distributions).

This means that a small proportion (20%) uses more resources than say a majority (80%). So it fits this case quite well.
So most people use 60% of the ``bandwidth'' or less and 3% use 40% of the bandwidth.

The problem here is that these distributions are scale free. This means there will always be a heavy usage proportion which uses way more than other users. But that's actually quite natural. It is too be expected. So when Rogers and AT&T and Bell make up these stats, they are most likely true, but they are being dishonest. They don't expect users to understand statistics enough to accept that this will almost always happen. This is expected, and for AT&T they know it is expected. You can't tell me that everyone working for AT&T lacks the stats knowledge to know this. So they are basically arguing dishonestly that power users ruin it for everyone. Well get rid of the power users.. Now there's a different distribution, are you going to rid yourself of the power users again? How long before you have no users?

This is an expected usage distribution, it is nothing to be concerned about but it is always going to be used as a club against people who actually make use of a service.

Corporations are people too (4, Insightful)

interkin3tic (1469267) | more than 4 years ago | (#30381024)

Corporate America: our mistakes are our customers' fault and they need to pay through the nose or else they'll never learn.

Maybe with all the extra money they'll be getting with this, they'll upgrade their network so they can actually give people what they said they would give them at the price they said they would!

Re:Corporations are people too (1)

iammani (1392285) | more than 4 years ago | (#30381286)

[nosarcasm]Corporate America: our mistakes are our customers' fault and they need to pay through the nose or else they'll never learn.[/nosarcasm]

[sarcasm]Maybe with all the extra money they'll be getting with this, they'll upgrade their network so they can actually give people what they said they would give them at the price they said they would![/sarcasm]

Fixed that for you!

Wrong story label (5, Insightful)

onyxruby (118189) | more than 4 years ago | (#30381030)

This story should have been declared "AT&T Declares war on customers". For reasons unknown, AT&T just doesn't grasp the idea of upgrading their network. So they provide shoddy service and blame their users instead. They do everything except take care of their network and their customers. Why do they insist on infrastructure upgrades as a last result? How can they grow when they can't handle what they have now?

They recently ranked dead last on a major US survey of cell phone providers for every single category. In all seriousness, what are they going to do when they are no longer the exclusive Jesus phone provider? People put up with for lack of an alternative network for their Jesus phone, without that exclusive they would start hemorrhaging customers.

Re:Wrong story label (1)

DarkSabreLord (1067044) | more than 4 years ago | (#30381246)

source?

Re:Wrong story label (2, Informative)

onyxruby (118189) | more than 4 years ago | (#30381404)

Consumer Reports supplied the research, Google is your friend: Apple Insider [appleinsider.com]

Re:Wrong story label (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30381510)

No, asshole. Google is not my friend. When you make claims, back them up with citations. Don't expect everyone else to do the legwork just to see if you're full of shit or not. It's easier just to assume you're full of shit like everyone else and move on.

Re:Wrong story label (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30381326)

what are they going to do when they are no longer the exclusive Jesus phone provider?

Throw part of the massive profits they've been making back at Apple to keep the iPhone exclusive. At least if I had AT&T's mentality that's what I'd do.

One Uppers (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30381036)

Educating people to let them know how much data they use will only lead them to best their friends for the maximum throughput per month trophy.

AT&T fails again (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30381040)

god forbid they actually improve their network to handle the equipment they sell to use on it.

Dear AT&T (4, Informative)

prockcore (543967) | more than 4 years ago | (#30381044)

Dear AT&T,

The only way to fix your problems is to upgrade your network. Stop trying to punish users. Stop neglecting your network. Stop paying Luke Wilson to beat up strawmen on TV.

If you don't get your shit together, I will be switching over to Verizon's Droid when my iPhone's contract is up.

Re:Dear AT&T (1)

Anonymous Cowar (1608865) | more than 4 years ago | (#30381208)

I'll be buying the unlocked nokia n900 to replace my treo and switch from at&t to t-mobile when i feel like it. I've been waiting to ditch at&t for a while now.

How about (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30381046)

they use the ridiculously increasing monthly fees they are charging me and improve their capacity? Like the commercials advertise? I mean, ten cents each time someone sends me a text? They tried to charge me five beans to pay my bill over the phone. They are sucking the life right out of me.

They already differentiate (2, Interesting)

r_jensen11 (598210) | more than 4 years ago | (#30381054)

If I had a Blackberry or an iPhone, they would charge me $30-40/mo just for data for said phone. Same deal for any smartphones that AT&T sells themselves.

Fortunately for me, I purchased a smartphone that AT&T doesn't sell (got it from Nokia's website) and can get away with paying $10-15/mo for "Unlimited" (i.e. 3GB/mo) data.

That said, I don't think I've ever used more than 400MB/mo, probably averaging less than 200MB/mo. Now if they would provide a 200 min/mo voice plan, I would be much happier. I've somehow managed to wrack up over 1,500 Rollover minutes in the past 5 months with a 450min plan....

Look at what the other 97% are missing out on! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30381056)

Rather this will educate the rest what their phones might be capable of doing. Everyone can stare at 3" screens.

-Mobile- Bandwidth Hogs? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30381062)

Reminds me of the "Hunting the Mythical Bandwidth Hog" article. If ISPs are so reluctant to actually prove that these hogs exist, what are the odds that there really are these 3% of -mobile- users who are, what, downloading blu-ray movies on their iPhones?

Once more, loud and clear: build more freaking towers!

What about lower fees for low bandwidth users? (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30381066)

What I would like (no chance) is if they charged /less/ if you were a low bandwidth user. Instead, it's one price no matter how little data you use. Then they complain if you use too much data.

Re:What about lower fees for low bandwidth users? (1)

Hydrian (183536) | more than 4 years ago | (#30381328)

I agree with you. I hate being charged $40/month for downloading 200MB/month. I have a non-3G phone (Treo 680) I don't think I could get 5GB per a month if I ran it 24x5 if I tried. They don't offer tiered plans anymore. Their old tiered plans were SO out of sync of what reality was you had to get an "unlimited" plan in order to not to be raped by per MB charges. The wireless ISPs need to come up with a better tiered packages. Maybe something like $10/1GB flat rate so there is none of all that surprising exorbitant overage charges. You pay what you use. Also companies wouldn't mind you going over and people who have to use 3G/4G networks for tethering and heavy laptop use. Some people can only use laptop cards because their local utilities (i.e. cable/telco) don't provide services there. Please don't mention satellite as a VIABLE solution, for home internet usage.

well (3, Funny)

nomadic (141991) | more than 4 years ago | (#30381068)

As an iphone user, I say good. If the extra fees force those 3% to cut down a little, maybe my connection won't be so slow all the time.

Re:well (1, Insightful)

vil3nr0b (930195) | more than 4 years ago | (#30381114)

Or they could stop rewarding millionaires with stock options, spend that loot on upgrading their POS network and make everyone happy.

AT&T Then and Now (5, Insightful)

sycodon (149926) | more than 4 years ago | (#30381074)

Then : Use AT&T and download video and songs faster!

Now: Too many people are downloading video and songs!

Re:AT&T Then and Now (1)

Zordak (123132) | more than 4 years ago | (#30381486)

"Fairness" is Marxism dressed in drag.

Great. This guy [wikipedia.org] in drag is exactly the kind of disturbing mental image I needed today. Excuse me while I go try to sear it out of my brain.

I can see the conversation now (1, Insightful)

Puls4r (724907) | more than 4 years ago | (#30381102)

1. Sell 3G Iphone and advertise that it can browse the web, download songs, etc.
2. Tie in I-tunes, drm, and a lot of other nasty crap so that once the user starts using it, he loses everything he's purchased (music, apps, etc) if he stops.
3. Increase the price on those users because they doing something "wrong" by using it too much.
4. ?????
5. Profit

Screw that bullshit. I think I'll keep using my phone as just a phone, until these guys get their heads out of their asses. Do folks really have that much disposable income that they can drop hundreds a month on silliness like this? It's a rethorical question.

DRM doesn't enter into it (2, Informative)

SuperKendall (25149) | more than 4 years ago | (#30381316)

2. Tie in I-tunes, drm, and a lot of other nasty crap so that once the user starts using it, he loses everything he's purchased (music, apps, etc) if he stops.

Except for some time now, music you buy from iTunes has been DRM free. It's in AAC, true, but that's an open format - you can play it on a Zune or a 360!!

As for the apps, that's a platform thing and not a DRM thing. The apps themselves do not have DRM (they are signed but that's kind of the opposite thing).

It's true video sold through iTunes does have DRM, but honestly how many people buy video there they plan to keep? I use iTunes for some video but I always think of it as extended rental rather than purchase, and there's very little video I really want to watch again (and that I buy).

Ads (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30381104)

Frankly, I find the idea of paying for usage when that usage includes unsolicited ads to be appalling (and, unlike, say, TV ads, the revenue from web ads does not go to the carrier). If I have to pay for usage, then enable me to determine what is sent to me.

Can they change the deal unilaterally? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30381134)

If they change the deal in such a significant way, can I leave without paying a termination fee?

I paid $300 for my iPhone, plus another $70 or $80 for Apple Care. On top of that, I'd have to pay $175 (I think) to leave. If I didn't have so much sunk into the phone, I would leave, because the data network simply doesn't work very well here in NYC.

If anyone is thinking about an iPhone, don't do it. The device is amazing, incredibly well thought out, extremely useful, and a joy to use. It's very easy to fall in love. But AT&T just doesn't hold up their end of the deal.

I have a Spring air card, and it works fine. I use more data on it, as well. And they never whine or claim I'm abusing them. I think they're glad that I'm a customer.

Should electricity be charged per-watt? (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30381136)

Electricity is on a per-joule (I refuse to use the so-called 'unit' of kilowatt-hour) basis, and that seems to work out just fine (this being analogous to being charged per data unit). In fact, it would be downright stupid to pay for it on a per-watt basis (analogous to per data unit/sec). Just curious as to why internet access is perceived in a fundamentally different way than electricity, in this respect.

Re:Should electricity be charged per-watt? (1)

iammani (1392285) | more than 4 years ago | (#30381350)

Actually 1 killowatt-hour = 3.6E+6 Joules. Now, what was your point again?

Why use AT&T? (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30381142)

Just ranked dead last in customer satisfaction [zdnet.com] by Consumer Reports, AT&T also illegally spied on American citizens and then successfully lobbied to get themselves retroactive immunity [eff.org]. Not only will they not be punished, but no one will ever find out the extent of their crimes. Technicians have stumbled into secret rooms [wired.com] used to "shunt its customers' Internet traffic to data-mining equipment" for the NSA.

And don't believe bloated Luke Wilson--many iPhone users I know tell me they have shitty GSM coverage.

Meanwhile, Time Magazine just called the Verizon Droid phone the top gadget of the year [time.com] and Droid has been rooted [alldroid.org], so you know it won't be long before a custom ROM [wikipedia.org] comes our way.

And now AT&T wants to charge for usage? Well, their exclusive contract is almost over with Apple. And if you ask me, not a moment too soon.

Keep blaming the consumer (2, Interesting)

TehCable (1351775) | more than 4 years ago | (#30381146)

I am so tired of ISP's blaming their customers for the shortcomings of their network. The problem is with the way AT&T designed their network, not with the way customers are using it. Their network was not designed to handle TCP. They break TCP congestion control by not allowing packet loss. As soon a high traffic condition is reached, every affect TCP connection retransmits even more, and the situation quickly spirals out of control to where nobody can get a packet through.

Verizon has the same kinds of customers as AT&T and they manage to handle high traffic conditions without grinding to a halt. I can't wait for my AT&T contract to expire. The breaking point for me was at a football game when my phone failed to complete a call or send a text message for hours. The guy standing next to me had Verizon and it worked fine. He let me use his phone to call a friend. I got that friend's voice mail because he is also on AT&T.

So what? (1)

DogDude (805747) | more than 4 years ago | (#30381194)

So what? Why is this an issue? Use another service if you don't like AT&T's fees. There are plenty of other options out there. I happen to use Sprint. For $100/month, I have unlimited everything (voice, text, data, etc.). Pick another carrier, or don't use a cell phone at all. I fail to see how this is newsworthy of even Slashdot.

False Advertising (4, Interesting)

Azureflare (645778) | more than 4 years ago | (#30381204)

Does this mean I can get out of my 2 year contract then? This is blatant false advertising and breach of contract. I did not get an iPhone to have stone-age metered internet access.

Re:False Advertising (1)

jockeys (753885) | more than 4 years ago | (#30381484)

obviously ATT will wait until your contract is up and then hit you with the new evil one for renewal.

AT&T new to this or what? (1)

geekmux (1040042) | more than 4 years ago | (#30381206)

"AT&T has found that only 3% of its smartphone users — primarily iPhone owners — are responsible for 40% of total data usage, largely for video and audio"

And, this is different from ISP traffic and users how exactly? Give me a break. Stop playing the part of ignorant moron provider here whining about excuses.

If you're gonna raise our rates, then fine, raise them. Yeah, I know it's to line your greedy pockets, so don't sit here and make me think that my "misunderstanding" of what a fucking "wireless" megabyte is the reason you're doing it.

What's this line on my iPhone bill? (5, Insightful)

llamalad (12917) | more than 4 years ago | (#30381222)

Dear AT&T,

I could've sworn I remembered seeing something on my monthly iPhone bill... Ah, there it is.

" DATA PLAN IPHONE 12/02-01/01 30.00 30.00
    Data Unlimited 12/02-01/01 0.00 0.00
        Includes:
        DATA ACCESS "

See, AT&T? It's right where you printed it. Unlimited data for a predetermined cost.

Now, AT&T, if you would please GTFO of here with this talk about billing me based on usage or prepare for me to take advantage of change in ToS so I can get out of my contract without penalty.

Best regards,
A guy who's looking forward to his contract ending so he can get an Android on a network that hopefully sucks less.

iPhone without AT&T = Touch (1)

grolaw (670747) | more than 4 years ago | (#30381310)

If those worthless twits at AT&T, who already have the lowest satisfaction of any cell provider, and already charge at a very high rate (for two iPhones and a big rollover + unlimited texting - I pay $260.00/mo) add on a data surcharge I'll drop the cell contract instantly - and I do mean instantly.

It is a recession and tossing $3k/yr out of the office account into two iPhones only to see the brilliant minds at AT&T come up with this idea - well, let's just say that the iPhone will become a touch/Skype phone and I'll let Credo buy out my account.

AT&T has really bad service - to the point that they now have an app to report their really bad service! Their apology: we'll charge more because we have an exclusive deal with Apple!

Support Publicly Owned Providers! (1)

MarkvW (1037596) | more than 4 years ago | (#30381378)

Support publicly owned providers whenever you can. It's the only way to fight the monopoly-monster.

AT&T's goal is to charge you exactly what they can get away with. A public provider's goal is to charge you what is fair.

So let me get this straight.... (1)

arkham6 (24514) | more than 4 years ago | (#30381392)

They advertise the Iphone and the other media phones as being able to get streaming music, check football scores, write email, do all this neat stuff with AT&T! .....and then they get pissed when people actually DO it?

I welcome usage-based fee overlords (1)

mattack2 (1165421) | more than 4 years ago | (#30381406)

Personally, I'd be *happy* with usage based fees, if they were 'reasonable' and if you could easily check how much you were using real time (without incurring more usage, similar to checking one's balance on a prepaid phone). I'd be happy with it, as long as the minimum went very close to zero if you didn't use it. (A small fee to have 'access' to data along with voice seems somewhat reasonable.) In other words, I'd like the ability to use an iPhone on current prepaid phones where you can easily get under $5/month with little usage.. and if the balance (which you can never get back) worked for the data fees too, great.

I admit I don't have a value for 'reasonable' fees, but something that came close to the current fee for the current average usage seems like a good value with which to start. I suspect instead they'll go with the current fee and go UP for high volume users.

Re:I welcome usage-based fee overlords (1)

Azureflare (645778) | more than 4 years ago | (#30381500)

If ATT forces iPhone users to have a $30 data plan, plus a $5 texting plan, and adds on additional usage fees for every MB used over that on top of everything else, this will be the most ridiculously overpriced phone plan ever created. I would stop using my iPhone for data (e.g. turn of all mail services, delete all data icons from my homepage), and then when my 2 year contract is up, I will promptly cancel and turn my iPhone into a serviceable iPod touch.

If, however, they make the data plan cost $1 a month if you don't use any data, and tack on additional costs... I might consider staying with them IF they give you a warning when you're about to exceed certain usage amounts in a month (and incur massive fees). Somehow, I highly doubt an evil company would do something so non-evil.

What? (1)

Vegeta99 (219501) | more than 4 years ago | (#30381414)

Assholes. They already do that. There's a couple of different "unlimited" plans, depending on how much AT&T thinks you'll use that specific phone on the network. I pay $30 for unlimited internet, others pay $15. No cheating and using a crap phone to activate and then changing SIMs either, if it's an AT&T branded phone, they know and kick you off your plan.

A reasonable cost would be 1/20th current costs (1)

WillAffleckUW (858324) | more than 4 years ago | (#30381456)

Since that is what people with faster bandwidth in Japan, South Korea, and the EU pay.

Forgive me if I am naive. (1)

koan (80826) | more than 4 years ago | (#30381470)

I wish we could all get together in some way and finance a lobbying group in Washington to try and undercut these douche bags like ATT, Comcast, ETC and regulate them, open the network and get some form of sane Network Neutrality.

I have to say I would prefer ATT and Comcast as dumb pipes, because I have yet to see either of them offer any content I would want and if they focused on their core business (the aforementioned dumb pipes)they should get their profits without the slash and burn the user business techniques..

Sigh (4, Insightful)

Locke2005 (849178) | more than 4 years ago | (#30381530)

I keep predicting some sort of per-byte fees are inevitable, and people keep arguing with me. "It's not the tragedy of the commons because they can always build more bandwidth." No, wireless bandwidth is regulated by the FCC and finite. Why some people are so violently opposed to using simple economics to keep a few users from adversely affecting everyone else's user experience is beyond me. Sure, AT&T could build a better 3G network, but if you expect that grandma (that only uses a data connection to check her email once a day) should be subsidizing your addiction to streaming porn videos, you are one selfish son of a bitch.

Which character? (1)

michaelmalak (91262) | more than 4 years ago | (#30381552)

Which character of "3G" did AT&T not understand when they agreed to offer a product by that name?

Meanwhile, this AT&T network bog-down caused me -- and I'm assuming others as well -- to switch from other carriers to T-Mobile because of their Fave Five plan that allows unlimited calling to a specified five numbers. One can be "in-network" on AT&T without suffering the AT&T network on both ends of the connection.

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