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Loophole Means Unlimited Data For AT&T iPhone

samzenpus posted more than 3 years ago | from the unlimited-fine-print dept.

Wireless Networking 121

An anonymous reader writes "According to a story at NPR: 'Verizon Wireless will start offering the iPhone on Feb. 10 with a draw that AT&T Inc. no longer offers to new subscribers: a plan with unlimited data usage. But The Associated Press has learned that some AT&T iPhone users on limited plans won't need to move to Verizon for all-you-can-eat data. In an unadvertised loophole, AT&T has allowed subscribers who have had an unlimited data plan in the past to switch back. That includes anyone who had an iPhone before June, when the limited plans took effect.'"

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121 comments

Horses are gone. (4, Interesting)

0100010001010011 (652467) | more than 3 years ago | (#35014414)

Sorry AT&T, people have been fed up with slow internet. Everyone that has wanted an iPhone but waited is going to jump on this.
Everyone with an expiring AT&T contract that was fed-up with AT&T service is going to jump. People have already made up their minds, this little 'incentive' isn't going to help.

Fastest 3G network just like USB2 is faster than Firewire. When it really counts, it isn't.

I can't see how Verizon handles the load.

Re:Horses are gone. (3, Insightful)

metalmaster (1005171) | more than 3 years ago | (#35014470)

Can you really be sure that VZW wont get crushed when hordes of iphone users switch?

Re:Horses are gone. (4, Informative)

Cornelius the Great (555189) | more than 3 years ago | (#35014636)

Considering that Android users use more data [reuters.com], it's a safe bet that Verizon's network can handle the load.

Re:Horses are gone. (1)

node 3 (115640) | more than 3 years ago | (#35015260)

How does that follow? Are you saying that Verizon is going to sell iPhones primarily to their existing Android customers?

The iPhone is going to add significantly to Verizon's user base. Even if Android consumes more data in aggregate than iPhone [*], and Verizon can handle that just fine, that doesn't mean that they can handle that plus another significant bandwidth consuming platform.

[*] That article was extremely sparse on any actual data, so there's no way to know exactly what they mean. WiFi tethering, for example, (which Verizon will be offering out of the gate) is something that more Android users use than iOS users, by the simple fact of it requiring jailbreaking on iOS (until iOS 4.3, which drops in a couple of weeks).

Re:Horses are gone. (1)

mjwx (966435) | more than 3 years ago | (#35016558)

How does that follow? Are you saying that Verizon is going to sell iPhones primarily to their existing Android customers?

Given that 77% of Iphone 4's were sold to owners of previous Iphone models I'd say no.

More like existing Iphone owners _may_ switch. Then again maybe not. Perhaps the Iphone has reached maximum saturation.

Re:Horses are gone. (1)

node 3 (115640) | more than 3 years ago | (#35017052)

You're delusional if you think the iPhone market is saturated. How did they manage to sell over 16 million iPhones last quarter? Or maybe they are *now* just becoming saturated?

No, the iPhone will sell millions next quarter on Verizon alone, and they most certainly will add significant additional load to their network.

Re:Horses are gone. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35017360)

he didnt say the market is saturated. he stated that iphones are sold mostly (not all) to previous iphone owners, that's the statistics he showed. Plus apple sales are worldwide while his statistics might be just american. IDK, "the iPhone will sell [...]" [citation needed].
I'm sure the network can do just fine, they are not amateurs in the network game, especially because they already know how to handle millions of androids, that was the point mjwx was trying to make

Re:Horses are gone. (1)

node 3 (115640) | more than 3 years ago | (#35017434)

he didnt say the market is saturated.

He said: "Perhaps the Iphone has reached maximum saturation."

he stated that iphones are sold mostly (not all) to previous iphone owners, that's the statistics he showed. Plus apple sales are worldwide while his statistics might be just american.

Numbers he posted without citation. Quite likely they are numbers from the early days of the iPhone 4, but without citation there's no way to know.

IDK, "the iPhone will sell [...]" [citation needed].

That's silly, there's no citation for the future. But if you don't think Verizon will sell millions of iPhones this quarter, you haven't been paying attention. A quick Google search for expectations range from 9 million to 12 million Verizon iPhones for 2011. It's worthwhile to keep in mind the iPad was predicted to sell 3-8 million last year, and Apple sold around 14 million. Yes, the iPad situation was different from the Verizon iPhone situation, but it illustrates how industry experts tend to under-estimate consumer interest in Apple products.

I'm sure the network can do just fine, they are not amateurs in the network game, especially because they already know how to handle millions of androids, that was the point mjwx was trying to make

No, the point he was trying to make was that "the Iphone suxxors". As for Verizon's network, I never said they won't be able to handle it, just that they will find significantly increased load very soon. Verizon's network is slower than AT&T's, so that definitely has to help. Time will tell, and it will definitely be interesting to see how things unfold.

Re:Horses are gone. (1)

Ihmhi (1206036) | more than 3 years ago | (#35017622)

I'm rarely one to say good things about a big, multi-billion dollar corporation, but I really do think that Verizon has good service.

Before I go further, let me preface everything that follows with this disclaimer: the quality of a phone company's network depends on your area. I've been in places other than home where previous networks I was one worked amazingly, and there are places I go to where Verizon works poorly.

I live in Newark, NJ. Originally my family had one cell phone with Sprint. Sprint's service at the time was pretty good, but we had a unique situation. My father insulated our home so well that it acts like a Farraday cage; only the best phones and/or networks can penetrate the wall (although my wireless signal, for some reason, can make it to the house next door or across the street - good ol' WRT54G!). The Sprint phone only really worked near (or hanging out!) a window, or outside - and a lot of the time, not even outside.

After a few years with Sprint, my mom elected to get a pair of new phones - one for her, and one for dad. She went with T-Mobile because she had a friend who worked at a T-Mobile store. T-Mobile had pretty good customer service, but their network was godawful in my city.

Not too long after that we were off contract with T-Mobile. Another important example of Farraday cages in modern architecture is NJIT's cafeteria [webshots.com]. For most people, you had to literally hold the phone against the glass - not just be near it - to get a text out the building. Voice calls were a no-go. (Ironically, this has rendered the cafeteria of a high-tech school conspicuously free of cell phones and the like). A similar situation existed in many dorms and older buildings. One time while I was waiting to visit a friend, I did an informal survey of the students who were hanging around in the dorm's lobby. Out of all of them, AT&T was considered to have the poorest service, then Sprint, then T-mobile, and then finally Verizon at the top. That plus my friends who used Verizon (compared to the signal quality of friends who did not) convinced me, and I convinced my mom to make the switch.

Ever since we've been with Verizon. Yes, Newark can be a shithole, but it's not so bad that someone would jack up a cell tower on concrete blocks and steal all the goodies out of it. I can't fathom how the largest city in New Jersey has such largely poor cell service. It's getting better, but if you live around here and use anything but Verizon you're gonna suffer.

Re:Horses are gone. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35015068)

Verizon uses CDMA, so yeah, they can handle it.

Re:Horses are gone. (1)

craigminah (1885846) | more than 3 years ago | (#35015450)

What does CDMA have to do with anything? It has more to do with their respective network back-ends than the front end (e.g. cellular technology) coupled with number of users and data requests.

Re:Horses are gone. (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35016722)

Verizon doesn't need to maintain a bunch of shitty antique GSM cells. They are pure 3G CDMA. Tons of capacity.

Sure, AT&T also fails because of their lack of fiber, but that doesn't detract from their use of insecure and outdated GSM equipment.

Re:Horses are gone. (1)

willzzz (701172) | more than 3 years ago | (#35017006)

Ugh the majority of their urban markets and where they have deployed 3G is WCDMA/UMTS/HSPA+ and fiber back-haul (or being moved there ASAP). This has more to do with network engineering than the technology and AT&T is finally catching up with Verizon in that regard...

Re:Horses are gone. (1)

lwsimon (724555) | more than 3 years ago | (#35014520)

I'm actually satisfied with AT&T's 3G. I have a grandfathered iPhone plan, and I intend to stay with them. My phone is jailbroken, and I tether to it pretty much daily.

It should be noted, though, that I live in rural Arkansas, and the few times I've taken my phone to a metropolitan area, I noticed a significant decrease is speed.

Re:Horses are gone. (2)

gnarfel (1135055) | more than 3 years ago | (#35014720)

I paid big $$ for a corporate account, just so that I could have my tethering, unlimited data and be able to use it to upload live MP3 audio streams for my business. (Internet radio station focused on live, local artists at their events with original content. Shameless plug: gnarfel.com radio [although we're not broadcasting right now.])

Re:Horses are gone. (1)

bhcompy (1877290) | more than 3 years ago | (#35014890)

Of course you could have done this for a lot cheaper buying an old WinMo 6.x phone with the old unlimited plan. Supports tethering out of the box at no extra charge

Re:Horses are gone. (1)

node 3 (115640) | more than 3 years ago | (#35015354)

Of course you could have done this for a lot cheaper buying an old WinMo 6.x phone with the old unlimited plan. Supports tethering out of the box at no extra charge

So does iOS. It's up to the carrier to decide how they charge to use the features on their network.

Besides, cheaper != better. If he did that, he'd be stuck with a WinMo 6.5 phone. *Maybe* he wouldn't mind that, but somehow I doubt it. I can't imagine any statistically significant number of iOS or Android users who would enjoy downgrading that significantly.

Re:Horses are gone. (2)

Vegeta99 (219501) | more than 3 years ago | (#35015436)

Well, WinMo 6.5 usually still has the executable, just not on the programs menu. iPhones, on the other hand, have no way to tether when not jailbroken unless ATT says its OK.

Re:Horses are gone. (1)

node 3 (115640) | more than 3 years ago | (#35017072)

Well, WinMo 6.5 usually still has the executable, just not on the programs menu. iPhones, on the other hand, have no way to tether when not jailbroken unless ATT says its OK.

And AT&T (and Verizon) both say it's OK. You just have to pay for it (like you do with any other phone). And as you've stated, both Windows Mobile and iOS have mechanisms by which users can work around the limitation and violate their contract, if they so wish.

Re:Horses are gone. (1)

bhcompy (1877290) | more than 3 years ago | (#35016500)

Out of the box, meaning it's not a feature taken away by any of the carriers in the US, and even if they did, regedit is a lot easier than jailbreak, and a lot less warranty violating(which can be a big issue for corporate users)

Re:Horses are gone. (1)

node 3 (115640) | more than 3 years ago | (#35017064)

Out of the box, meaning it's not a feature taken away by any of the carriers in the US

That's not what "out of the box" means. And both US carriers allow tethering on the iPhone.

and even if they did, regedit is a lot easier than jailbreak, and a lot less warranty violating(which can be a big issue for corporate users)

They don't have to, they just pay for the tethering feature, like they do with any other phone.

Re:Horses are gone. (1)

mjwx (966435) | more than 3 years ago | (#35016580)

So does iOS. It's up to the carrier to decide how they charge to use the features on their network.

But wait, I thought the great advantage of the Iphone was that carriers could not mess with it and do things like dictate what OS features you can or cant use.

Seriously, I hear this argument used against Android all the time but people forget things like this.
Android works like this:
Manufacturer -> Carrier -> User
Iphone works like this
Carrier -> Manufacturer -> User
Except with Android I can cut out the carrier by buying direct from the manufacturer. I currently have a non-carrier branded HTC Dream and Motorola Milestone.

Re:Horses are gone. (1)

node 3 (115640) | more than 3 years ago | (#35017044)

So does iOS. It's up to the carrier to decide how they charge to use the features on their network.

But wait, I thought the great advantage of the Iphone was that carriers could not mess with it and do things like dictate what OS features you can or cant use.

Nice straw man. The advantage you are referring to is that carriers could not alter any of the software on the iPhone (they can't remove software, add software, or alter software, like Verizon is notorious for (and even *they* aren't allowed to alter the software on the iPhone)).

What you are referring to is that the iPhone specifically allows the carriers to decide which *network* features they offer. Android offers the exact same customizability, *PLUS* the more severe ability for carriers like Verizon to completely alter anything they want in the OS.

That the carrier can control a very small handful of features that are specifically carrier-specific does not equate (like you are trying to do) with being able to alter the entire OS however they wish.

Re:Horses are gone. (2)

v1 (525388) | more than 3 years ago | (#35014610)

Sorry AT&T, people have been fed up with slow internet. Everyone that has wanted an iPhone but waited is going to jump on this.
Everyone with an expiring AT&T contract that was fed-up with AT&T service is going to jump. People have already made up their minds, this little 'incentive' isn't going to help.

Especially when you have to ask them to stop screwing you. If they wanted to make a serious attempt at saving face they'd just roll them all back, and not just those that are older customers. Letting older customers do it and NOT letting newer ones, wow. Way to keep a new customer!

(why is the italic tag not working?)

Re:Horses are gone. (2, Informative)

dmitriy (40004) | more than 3 years ago | (#35015006)

Italic is not working?

Re:Horses are gone. (1)

halcyon1234 (834388) | more than 3 years ago | (#35016542)

Nope. Thank you fucking slashdot css.  To add to my list of evergrowing fixes, add to your stylesheet
<br>
i, .quote
{
font-style:italic !important;
}

Yes, folks, that's right. They fucked up the <i> tag. Have a good night.

Re:Horses are gone. (2)

eyeota (686153) | more than 3 years ago | (#35015474)

ATT doesn't have to keep the new customer, that's why they make you sign a contract. It's the old customers with the expiring contracts they're trying to retain.

Re:Horses are gone. (2)

index0 (1868500) | more than 3 years ago | (#35016394)

Most new customers won't have a choice because they signed a 2 or 3 year contract. Older customers probably will be having their contract expire soon.

VZW handling the load (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35014664)

> I can't see how Verizon handles the load.

Their network here is already floundering just under the load of all the newly added Android phones. The coming wave of iPhones is going to be a disaster.

RANT: I hate this new Slashdot Interface. Why the F*ck can't we include HTML tags in our replies anymore? I used italics and bold a lot to include quotes and provide emphasis. Slashdot has now stolen that from us!!!! I'm pissed.

Re:VZW handling the load (1)

dgatwood (11270) | more than 3 years ago | (#35014772)

RANT: I hate this new Slashdot Interface. Why the F*ck can't we include HTML tags in our replies anymore? I used italics and bold a lot to include quotes and provide emphasis. Slashdot has now stolen that from us!!!! I'm pissed.

HTML tags work fine for me. Try logging in.

No, wait, the <i> tag isn't working. The <em> tag works fine, though, and is functionally equivalent.

  • Bulleted lists are broken.
  1. As are numbered lists.

You know, you're right. Somehow I have a feeling this wasn't tested very thoroughly before they rolled it out. The tags are right, but the CSS is hosed.

Re:VZW handling the load (1)

Nirvelli (851945) | more than 3 years ago | (#35015542)

The <i> tag didn't work for me before either... I always had to use <em> on slashdot...

Re:VZW handling the load (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35016022)

The tag used to work for anonymous posting. Now it's gone. With anonymous posting now limited to one per 20 minutes, this is another step towards ending anonymous posting at all. Next we'll see the complete removal of anonymous posting altogether.

Re:Horses are gone. (1)

re_organeyes (1170849) | more than 3 years ago | (#35016780)

VW will probably end up doing a fizzle and burn. I had VW for about 6 months after they bought out AllTel (never had one problem with Alltel), the service was extremely lousy (admitted by one of their own CS reps). They make big jumps now, just like they did then. They are probably just as unprepared for it now as they were then.

Re:Horses are gone. (1)

mcrbids (148650) | more than 3 years ago | (#35016940)

AT&T screws more than just cellular customers!

AT&T managed to screw up my billing on International calls, (over) charging me almost $5,000 on what should have been about $100 in charges. After more than 6 months of calls to customer service, deferrals, and notices, I finally called them to disconnect my phone. Suddenly, the $4,000 was taken care of in 10 minutes, by somebody who spoke with an American accent!

I waited long enough to get the next bill (so that I'd have proof that the bill had been discharged) only to find that they over-charged me $25 on the very next bill and that's when I cancelled my service for good.

Some months later, my son just *had* to have an iPhone and wanted me to "co-sign". I went to the AT&T store, and after reading the terms, found that they were basically that this was MY contract and that I was on the hook for the bill. So I refused to sign.

Guess what? A year later, I got a notice of a pending suit against me for breach of contract! Yes! AT&T tried to sue me for breaking a contract I had never signed.

I wish I were exaggerating! But friends: Don't let your friends get screwed by AT&T!

Unadvertised Loophole (2)

kenrblan (1388237) | more than 3 years ago | (#35014440)

By unadvertised loophole, AT&T really means offered countermeasure to the prevent loss of a customer to a competitor. This is nothing new or revolutionary.

Re:Unadvertised Loophole (0)

pitchpipe (708843) | more than 3 years ago | (#35014602)

By unadvertised loophole, AT&T really means offered countermeasure to the prevent loss of a customer to a competitor. This is nothing new or revolutionary.!

You just have NO idea what this means. Did you know this is an iPHONE we are talking about here?! I know, I know, it was hard for me to comprehend at first as well. I just hope that AT&T doesn't find a way to stop this from happening. I mean it's like we all hit the lottery.

Off topic here, but I really find the new layout of the site is shitty. I hadn't even gotten used to the last change - which sucked as well. I hope this isn't the end of Slashdot. I used to go to Google news almost first thing when I got on the internet. When they changed their layout - to a layout I found was just asinine - I found myself going there less and less to where I stopped completely. Haven't been to the main news site in months, and I'm not sure if I'll ever go back. I don't know if that'll happen with Slashdot - like I said I hope it doesn't - but the new layout is really painful to look at.

Re:Unadvertised Loophole (1)

clang_jangle (975789) | more than 3 years ago | (#35015454)

Slashcode was nearly perfect for awhile in 2005-6 but apparently they just kept tweaking until they pretty much ruined it. I agree the latest redesign is still difficult to navigate and painful to view. It helps to specify a custom css stylesheet just for this site in your browser's prefs, but of course that's kludgey and unsatisfying. Using elinks or lynx fixes the aesthetics; too bad they don't bother making it fully functional with any non-graphical browser.

The depressingly poor slashcode hasn't stopped me from reading, but I did drop my subscription and now participate a lot less than I used to.

So yeah, congratulations slashdot on another intrusive, semi-functional design which we now get to learn how to work around. :D

"Unlimited" is usually a lie (4, Insightful)

slaker (53818) | more than 3 years ago | (#35014456)

Just remember, people, that "unlimited" data plans in the US actually cap out at 5GB/month for almost everyone in almost every situation. The only truly un-metered data services I'm aware of are Sprint's plans for phones that offer 4G service or for circumstances where a user was grandfathered in on a contract that offered truly unlimited data service (e.g. Sprint SERO).

Re:"Unlimited" is usually a lie (2)

lwsimon (724555) | more than 3 years ago | (#35014530)

While you're right, in theory, in practice I routinely take my iPhone to 8-10GB / month, and have never seen any ill effects.

Re:"Unlimited" is usually a lie (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35014590)

Confirming this, I regularly push over 5GB. I've even done 20GB+ a few months when I was without a home net connection. AT&T never complained.

Re:"Unlimited" is usually a lie (4, Informative)

PhreakOfTime (588141) | more than 3 years ago | (#35014566)

You did say 'just about everyone', but... My android phone with Verizon is unlimited data, and I regularly use around 7-8GB/mo with no charges.

Re:"Unlimited" is usually a lie (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35014710)

It's probably not a hard cap; it's a throttle cap. Less noticeable, and not as illegal.

Re:"Unlimited" is usually a lie (2)

JDBurnZ (1867012) | more than 3 years ago | (#35015050)

With Verizon, at any point beyond the initial 5GB, they can at their discretion pull the plug on your data at which point you must then submit a petition. At this point Verizon reserves the right to conduct an "illegal downloading" investigation. If everything checks out, your data privileges are resumed. From what I understand, this can happen on a per month basis as well. I used to work for Verizon, you see.

Re:"Unlimited" is usually a lie (1)

PhreakOfTime (588141) | more than 3 years ago | (#35015562)

That sounds incredibly unbelievable and unrealistic.

The largest month saw 21GB of usage. And many months well over 10. During the colder months it is less. Not one single instance of 'illegal downloading' went over the network.

The offer was for unlimited data on the droid when I signed up in 2009. It was the only verizon phone to offer such a plan, as the rest were supposedly limited to 5GB/mo. In other words, it was unique to the initial android release on the verizon network. I signed up for the phone because that is exactly what I need. If you cant imagine how I could 'use that much', then its safe to assume your job is FAR less dependent on the benefits of cellular data technology than mine.

At no point did I expect any problems for using what I purchased, and at no time have I had any problems from verizon for it.

Re:"Unlimited" is usually a lie (1)

jeepien (848819) | more than 3 years ago | (#35015606)

Well, I routinely run over 5 GB each month, and have for nearly a year and a half, on my Droid. Not a peep out of them (VZW). So unlimited is, so far, not limited.

Re:"Unlimited" is usually a lie (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35017034)

Wrong. Data to the phone is unlimited. The only 5GB cap that Verizon has is tethering and USB modems for computers.

Re:"Unlimited" is usually a lie (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35014588)

True that, but even while streaming Pandora everywhere I go and using it as a wifi tether device occasionally I still only use about 2GB/Month, yet I am forced to pay an extra $10/month fee per line for "4g unlimited" usage, which 4g is not even available in my area.

I'd honestly rather pay less and have a 5gb cap on 3g.

Re:"Unlimited" is usually a lie (1)

Em Adespoton (792954) | more than 3 years ago | (#35015362)

True that, but even while streaming Pandora everywhere I go and using it as a wifi tether device occasionally I still only use about 2GB/Month, yet I am forced to pay an extra $10/month fee per line for "4g unlimited" usage, which 4g is not even available in my area.

I'd honestly rather pay less and have a 5gb cap on 3g.

I thought forcing users to pay for line items that weren't available to them was illegal? It's small claims court unless you get a class action, but it's still not legal. They've broken their contract with you.

Re:"Unlimited" is usually a lie (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35014630)

I used something like 12 GB on an Incredible in October, and nobody cared. I've been using 4-6 GB a month on average on a smartphone since 2005.

Re:"Unlimited" is usually a lie (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35014744)

Do you work for sprint or something? I've gone over your magic 5GB/mo number for literally years with my AT&T iPhones. If they capped me I would drop them immediately.

Re:"Unlimited" is usually a lie (1)

sexconker (1179573) | more than 3 years ago | (#35014752)

Just remember, people, that "unlimited" data plans in the US actually cap out at 5GB/month for almost everyone in almost every situation. The only truly un-metered data services I'm aware of are Sprint's plans for phones that offer 4G service or for circumstances where a user was grandfathered in on a contract that offered truly unlimited data service (e.g. Sprint SERO).

Just remember, person, that unlimited data plans in the US actually are unlimited for a sizable portion of subscribers in many situations.
Anyone who thought internet on a phone was worthwhile before the iPhone came out had, or had the option for, such a plan.
MANY people are grandfathered in, and AT&T will NOT be kicking them off their contracts because they'll just leave.

I have an unlimited data plan. As many kaybees and geebees as I want. In an fashion. Via any cellular transceiver that uses the IDs my SIM card provides.
$10 / month.

Re:"Unlimited" is usually a lie (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35015098)

internet on a phone

You mean dial-up?

</old>

Re:"Unlimited" is usually a lie (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35014816)

I get what you are saying and have heard that but I use 10GB of data on my phone between Pandora, Email, Browsing, and XM radio and never have had a problem. I will even stream videos from the web and Hulu Plus and have not once had an issue with ATT on my bill in the three years ive had an iphone.

Re:"Unlimited" is usually a lie (2)

eldridgea (1249582) | more than 3 years ago | (#35014916)

Verizon is unlimited as long as you're not tethering. T-Mobile's 4G is capped at 5GB, but then they just throttle you to 3G speeds. So I just see it as $40/month for unlimited 3G with a speed boost for the first 5GB.

Re:"Unlimited" is usually a lie (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35014934)

Just so you know, Verizon has 2 forms of Data. There is the phone data side which is completely unlimited. Meaning all the browsing, YouTube videos, etc. you view on your phone only. (No caps. Do what ever you want, the sky's the limit.) Then there is the Mobile Broadband data. This is the data that is transmitted using your phone as a modem/wifi hotspot. (Yea for mobile connections to run my laptop.) This is what is limited to 5G a month and then charges out the wazoo for MB over the 5 GB limit.

Now for all you non Verizon customers... Mobile broadband phones have an extra charge for the option, normally. This is something like $20 a month on top of your current data plan. If you are lucky enough to have gotten a Palm Pre plus or recently the Palm Pixi Plus, these have the mobile wifi option offered and the 5GB per month is FREE!!! I don't know if that is just for the first contract or forever... I also can't say if this will ever be offered again. I just know that the palm phones got this option free of charge when I got my phone. My fiancé’s phone can do the mobile wifi, but it won't do it free. If we go to turn it on, Verizon's pop-ups tell us that we need to pony up the $20 to let her use it.

Re:"Unlimited" is usually a lie (2)

jeepien (848819) | more than 3 years ago | (#35015648)

If you're using an Android phone, just get a copy of PDAnet from the market. Do NOT turn on VZW tethering. (And do not pay for it either.)

Re:"Unlimited" is usually a lie (1)

BitZtream (692029) | more than 3 years ago | (#35015110)

Not sure what the limit is for AT&T, but I've regularly brake 5G and have hit as high as 10G a couple months.

parent is factually incorrect (2)

ultramk (470198) | more than 3 years ago | (#35015342)

How the hell is this still marked "insightful?" I have the AT&T unlimited data plan with my iPhone and every month go over 5GB, and have yet to see an additional charge or throttling. I think my highest usage month was something like 13GB (which takes a certain amount of doing over 3G, I tell you...).

Hey, if you want to astroturf for Sprint, feel free, but expect to get called on it.

Re:"Unlimited" is usually a lie (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35015896)

I routinely use +10Gb a month on AT&T. I have a Jailbroken IPhone4 that I use to share out a wifi connection. I'm on the unlimited data plan and have been for around two years. I received a love note from them last month for "averaging over 20Gb" for a few consecutive months (which is wrong, I only hit 20Gb once in the period they'd mentioned) and I am totally waiting for them to implement the 5GB throttle that seems to be becoming so popular, but it's worked out well so far. Gruber be damned, I'm paying for an "unlimited" connection so I'm going to use it.

Re:"Unlimited" is usually a lie (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35016110)

Hey, they're just poor corporations trying to make their way in a "free" market.

Re:"Unlimited" is usually a lie (1)

noidentity (188756) | more than 3 years ago | (#35016292)

Pedantic question: isn't unlimited always a lie, since the bandwidth is always finite? If they offer you a 5 Mbps connection, then the maximum you can download in a month is around 1.5 TB, even if they don't cap you?

Re:"Unlimited" is usually a lie (1)

Firehed (942385) | more than 3 years ago | (#35016830)

Strictly speaking, yes. The term they should* be using is "unmetered". Unlimited should mean not only unmetered, but that your pipe is also infinitely wide, which is obviously impossible.

* If it was, in fact, unmetered. Which is almost never the case. In theory I've inherited my old "unlimited" iPhone plan, but it's hardly relevant as I only use about 400MB/month. Yay for WiFi.

And then... (1)

fermion (181285) | more than 3 years ago | (#35014484)

This is nothing new. ATT has made no effort to move me from my unlimited plan to a limited plan when I bought my last phone Why would they? I am probably seldom over the 2GB limit, and they get $5 more than if I went to the max plan, and $15 more than if I went to the lower plan, which honestly is enough. The only thing this has to do with Verizon is that if one has an unlimited plan with ATT, it is unclear that one will be able to get the same deal with Verizon, at least long term. Verizon has says it is a limited time offer, and it is not clear what that means.

Even so if one includes tethering Verizon may still be a good deal. As far as I can tell ATT wants $75 a month for phone data and tethering, and limits tethering to 2GB. I have been told that with the 2GB phone plan the costs drops to $45, but is that for 2GB total, or 2GB per device. Still it is not a lot of data for the kind of stuff I do, like transfer video files up and down from my websites.

What made the iPhone deal with Verizon notable was the unlimited tethering, something we never had with ATT. Now it looks like Verizon is not even going to match ATT on unlimited data for legacy customers, which for a company that is supposed to have the best network in the US is simply pathetic.

Re:And then... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35015172)

Bad news: the tethering part of Verizon's plan is not unlimited, and it's not free. Only phone data is unlimited; the tethering plan is extra and capped.

Re:And then... (1)

frdmfghtr (603968) | more than 3 years ago | (#35015744)

What unlimited tethering? I read that the Verizon iPhone tethering option was $20 for 2 GB and $10 for each GB beyond that.

Unadvertised (1)

areusche (1297613) | more than 3 years ago | (#35014514)

So the real question is how long will this "unadvertised plan" last? Unless it's officially offered then this isn't a permanent solution nor a reason to say, "AT&T is better than VZW!!"

Should have always been "unlimited" (1)

Darkness404 (1287218) | more than 3 years ago | (#35014532)

AT&T removing "unlimited" data was a really stupid mistake. If they wanted to offer lower plans, they should have had introduced a variable plan, where the money you pay per month is based on bandwidth usage. They only pay the $15 or whatever it is for the pathetic amount of data, the $25 or whatever it is for the 2 GB of data and after 2 GB it just jumps up to the usual $30.

Re:Should have always been "unlimited" (0)

Surt (22457) | more than 3 years ago | (#35014950)

Theft by definition is an unlawful taking, so you've gotten pretty circular with your sig.

Competition is good (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35014572)

But only if you're a customer.

This is why we've gone to regulatory capture as a system of government.

I still expect VZ stock to rise... (1)

twebb72 (903169) | more than 3 years ago | (#35014578)

Unlimited or not, there are many people eager to switch simply for better service, especially in Metro areas.

I'm gonna have to call AT&T (-1)

Flounder (42112) | more than 3 years ago | (#35014586)

On my iPhone 3G, I dropped from the $30/unlimited to $15/200mb plan, thinking that I'd barely use that much data, since I'm usually at either work or home, and have WiFi in both. But now, I've upgraded to an iPhone 4, and have more ways to use the data (streaming Netflix, Hulu). So, I want to go back to the $30/unlimited plan. I'll have to call AT&T tomorrow and see if I can do that.

Re:I'm gonna have to call AT&T (1)

v1 (525388) | more than 3 years ago | (#35014800)

OT, concerning your sig

No boom today. Boom tomorrow. There's always a boom tomorrow. - Cmdr. Susan Ivanova

The explanation lies in the last few letters of her name.

Re:I'm gonna have to call AT&T (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35015070)

I just got off the phone and they wouldn't budge. Looks like if I want unlimited I'll have to go to Verizon.

On the Other Hand (2)

sexconker (1179573) | more than 3 years ago | (#35014694)

I got my data plan BEFORE the original iPhone launched.
My data plan is ACTUALLY unlimited - no fine print hidden cap.
My data plan INCLUDES tethering (because it makes zero mention of it - it's a DATA PLAN and I get DATA to do with as I please).
My data plan costs $10 / month.

No way in hell I'm giving that contract up.

Re:On the Other Hand (1)

vux984 (928602) | more than 3 years ago | (#35015168)

My data plan INCLUDES tethering (because it makes zero mention of it

It includes free ice-cream by that logic.

it's a DATA PLAN and I get DATA to do with as I please).

If tethering was an available feature, enabled in the phone at the time of the contract, then I'd say yes.

Otherwise... honestly... yes and no. The AT&T site for example states that:

AT&T DataPlus/AT&T DataPro plans with Tethering may be used to tether such SMARTPHONE and BlackBerry devices to a personal computer. If you are on a data plan that does not include a monthly megabyte allowance and additional data usage rates, the parties agree that AT&T has the right to impose additional charges if you use more than 5 GB in a month. Prior to the imposition of any additional charges, AT&T shall provide you with notice and you shall have the right to terminate your Service.

Or in other words, they are going to impose a limit if they want. If you don't like it, you can leave.

And the real kicker is this bit of boiler plate that is in pretty much all such contracts.

Either party may terminate this Agreement at any time after your Service Commitment ends with thirty (30) days notice to the other party.

There is no getting around this one. Once your initial contract is up, if they don't wish to continue service on the terms you originally signed up on, they can simply notify you, wait a month, and end it.

I don't care about unlimited (1)

preaction (1526109) | more than 3 years ago | (#35014712)

Just let me use the bandwidth you give me any way I want to! Why does tethering cost more? Why does adding a 3G hotspot device cost more?

News? (5, Interesting)

YesDinosaursDidExist (1268920) | more than 3 years ago | (#35014714)

If you had an unlimited plan before they rolled out the metered ones -- you were grandfathered in. Even if you had unlimited on a BlackBerry and later decided to "upgrade" to an iPhone you were grandfathered in....I don't know why this is news. The loophole doesn't affect you -- there is no loophole -- just demand unlimited data from AT&T and threaten to switch if they won't give it to you for $30\month. But then again....maybe they might benefit from 10% of their iPhone users moving over to another network...on paper it may seem bad -- but in the long run it may draw new customers when the service gets "better" from less data traffic.

Re:News? (1)

vlueboy (1799360) | more than 3 years ago | (#35014978)

This is like the sun's gas cycle of compressing and expanding itself. I wonder how many times uses will jump in and out harmonically as more companies get the iPhone and AT&T loses and regains its hungrier bandwidth-chewer percentage points

Re:News? (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35015224)

It is news because AT&T originally said that when if you were to change to one of the capped data plans, the unlimited plan was gone, For good.

How is this smart... (1)

MoldySpore (1280634) | more than 3 years ago | (#35014906)

...when AT&T is already having issues with dropped calls and slow 3G traffic? Did they do an infrastructure and/or backbone overhaul when nobody was looking?

Re:How is this smart... (1)

BitZtream (692029) | more than 3 years ago | (#35015146)

Yes, just no one noticed.

AT&Ts network has improved significantly since the iPhone was originally released, all likely due to the iPhone unlimited data plan.

By the time they dropped the unlimited data, the network was just about to the point of supporting what they had reliably everywhere most of the time. You'd still have issues if something happened that caused a lot of people to use their phones or put more people in an area than normal but for the most part, day to day, they caught up.

The reason you don't hear much about it is because ... well ... no one noticed. Which is kind of expected. You make a phone call and you expect it to work so you don't think anything of it when everything goes as planned. It leaves no mental marker. When you make a call and something goes wrong, it stands out, you make a mental marker. When it stops happening, no new mental markers, no new events for your brain to process to realize and think about the fact that AT&T is better.

To follow that up, its important to note that they dont' really deserve praise for fixing their network, since we actually EXPECTED it to work as they claimed in the first place.

Re:How is this smart... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35015324)

...when AT&T is already having issues with dropped calls and slow 3G traffic? Did they do an infrastructure and/or backbone overhaul when nobody was looking?

They're betting that their networks will be a lot less congested after the Verizon exodus.

Applicability? (1)

guspasho (941623) | more than 3 years ago | (#35015206)

How many AT&T users with unlimited plans switched to a metered plan? Who would?

Re:Applicability? (2)

robco74 (855120) | more than 3 years ago | (#35015416)

I would and did. I was annoyed by the announcement at first, but then I went on the customer service site and looked at my past data usage. I never came close to 200MB. It's as AT&T stated - it's enough for 65% of their smartphone customers. I check email, I browse the web, I read news apps. I don't stream Pandora over the 3G network all day. I don't stream movies over the cell network. I can wait to watch that YouTube video until I'm on WiFi or I get home - and I'm around WiFi a lot. I mostly use the phone for the apps, and the ones I use don't require tons of data. When I'm away from home and out with others, I try (but don't always succeed) to leave the internets behind and interact with real people in real time. In the meantime, I'm happy to be saving $15/month. I do come close to going over when I travel, but that isn't often. AT&T will let you upgrade to the 2GB plan for the month, then switch back. I suppose we like the perceived notion of unlimited and not having to worry about overage charges, but in reality, the network isn't unlimited. I have no issues with AT&T charging the few users who consume much more data more money. My only complaint is that for my $15/month, I should at least get half a gig of data. But VZW is even stingier and only allots 150MB.

wont last (5, Interesting)

Charliemopps (1157495) | more than 3 years ago | (#35015444)

Having worked for ATT in the past and having seen these "loopholes" I can attest to the fact that this wont last long. ATT's billing system is about the nastiest old 70's unix system you can imagine. Up until about 10 years about you still had to log into it with HPUX terminals. Right before I left they were building a web interface for it, but its still the nightmarish terminal system in the background. To get people "Packages" you'd apply codes to their account. ATT was always screwing their customers one way or another and your average billing rep just wants to get the angry customer off the phone. So every once in a while someone would figure out something like: "If I apply the tx320 plan, then the 43t33 plan... then backdate the install date and remove the 43t33, then the main package will go unlimited!!" Then this would get share with a couple of their closest work confidants... this is how to do it and get them off the phone. After a few months everyone knows about it and it's getting applied all over... then the main office finds out about it and brings down the hammer.

Re:wont last (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35017872)

To get people "Packages" you'd apply codes to their account. ATT was always screwing their customers one way or another and your average billing rep just wants to get the angry customer off the phone.

Having worked in cableco customer/technical support for four different companies I can attest this is how it is over here, too. Far too often the billing and even technical systems are run on software that you can tell is 1) very old, 2) originally designed to be used on a text-based terminal of some sort, and 3) not designed very well to start with.

The company I currently work for, who is one of the "big three" cable companies in the U.S., is using a program like this. It has an ugly non-intuitive GUI on top of the actual system, and then this particular company has *another* GUI that runs on top of that to make the system more "user-friendly" (something that looks like an Aero-esque bubbly theme that wont scare away people who don't know anything about computers but Facebook). Recently this system was updated and the new version runs twice as slow as the old version (which was slow to start with). I hear that the system's requirements *recommend 2 GB of RAM*. This is a billing system we're talking about here! We run it on XP Pro machines with 512 MB generally.

People think customer service reps are "dumb" or "don't know what they're doing" because they have trouble answering customer questions quickly or have to put the customer on hold for periods of time to "research something". Quite often the reason we can't answer questions fast is because these systems have information spread out over several separate screens that each take 5 seconds to load and we're having to look back and forth between more than one to tell you what you want to know. If the rep can't explain the bill to you, chances are they're looking at their display and are having trouble understanding it, too. It doesn't help that sometimes these systems really aren't working properly in their math and there's little the rep can do about it because the people in charge of the system are in a corporate ivory tower somewhere unreachable. All they can do is try to hand out discounts or something to get the customer off the phone.

To everyone: The next time something isn't working right with a feature on your wireless plan, cable TV converter, or Internet service, and you can't believe how no one at the company can get it working. Imagine that the system is requiring input of a bunch of nonsensical strings of numbers be listed on your account, sometimes in a certain order, no less, and you'll get an accurate picture as to why.

What about AT&T's other customers? (1)

kindherb (194395) | more than 3 years ago | (#35015480)

I'm currently on AT&T but don't have a smart phone nor contract. Just month to month, and while I want to stay with them since they have the best coverage in my area, it seems this is just screwing over the customers who didn't get an iPhone or unlimited plan prior, even more.

I really want an Android phone and am willing to pay for an unlocked HTC one, but I wouldn't be able to get an unlimited data plan. However I can always sign up for Verizon and get the same HTC phone, which AT&T doesn't even offer and get an unlimited data plan. Hell I can sign up right now for an iPhone with Verizon and get unlimited too. Not so much from AT&T.

This makes absolutely no sense if your goal is to retain customers. If I didn't hate Verizon so much I would have probably already signed up.

*sigh*

So What??? (1)

spiedrazer (555388) | more than 3 years ago | (#35015496)

Very few people with the unlimitied AT&T plan switched away from it (statisticlly speaking anyway). The reason that Verizon is offering a 'temporary' unlimited plan is to entice those AT&T users who can't see themselves surviving on a metered service, but hate their coverage, to switch over to Verizon secure in the knowledge that they can still have an unlimited plan. Once these folks have had enough time to jump over, Verizon kills the plan for new subscribers. It's a great marketing ploy. I just don't see a large pool of existing frustrated AT&T users who dropped the unlimited plan clamoring to get back to it.

They need to completly change their pricing model (1)

jonwil (467024) | more than 3 years ago | (#35015784)

The cellphone companies need to completly change their pricing model.

Ditch the lame idea of charging for incoming calls and SMS and move those costs onto the sender/caller.

Ditch the "data plan" crap and just charge people for the data they actually use. They should offer data blocks (where you can buy in blocks of 500mb or 1gb or whatever at a cheaper price than the pay-as-you-go rate for the same amount of data). And since they are now charging people for the data they actually use, they could fully allow tethering and mobile hot-spot functions on all their phones without a problem (if someone wants to use 5gb a month tethering their laptop to their phone, they will have to pay for it)

Oh, AT&T, you tease. (1)

VeryVito (807017) | more than 3 years ago | (#35015966)

Unlimited AT&T users still can't use tethering -- even if they'd agree to pay extra for it (They need the not-quite-unlimited-take-it-bitch-take-it plan for that). It will indeed be nice to see what competition does in this space. Both providers have their share of baggage, but at least now there's competition. But what will we do with http://www.thisiswhyiphonesucks.com/ [thisiswhyiphonesucks.com] now?

Grandfathered In (1)

Wingit (98136) | more than 3 years ago | (#35016396)

Yes, My plan with AT&T has be "grandfathered" in. I barely use their bare bones "less than 3G" where I live, I have wifi most everywhere I go so I don't impact their network much unless I am out of town. Still, if you became an AT&T customer at the right time and don't change your contract, you have unlimited 3G, 4G and previous access in an unlimited contract. AT&T has not earned my loyalty, but I will ride it out and see if they catch up or just remain a follower. They just sent me info on a GPS navigational app that costs ten dollars per month. ooh. Really?

Does it include tethering? (1)

NateTech (50881) | more than 3 years ago | (#35016600)

IPhone users had one significant reason to switch from unlimited to metered: It allowed them to tether. If you switch back, do you get to keep tethering? Judging by what VZ has said they're going to offer, the assumption would be yes. But leave it to AT&T to completely screw this up.

Article is useless tripe. Want a real loophole? (1)

Mister Xiado (1606605) | more than 3 years ago | (#35017510)

The ONLY smartphone-class phone on AT&T allowed to be set up with unlimited data right out of the gate is the ORIGINAL iPhone. Yes, you can still use it to this day. The only data options for the original iPhone are unlimited.

In an "unrelated" note, if you already have a smartphone-class device with unlimited data, even if you migrated from another carrier that was absorbed into AT&T, you're entitled to keep your unlimited data if you change to another smartphone, be it through upgrading or simply just acquiring another phone through your own means. All iPhones are smartphone-class devices, even if they aren't truly smartphones.

I'll leave it up to the people with more sense than that of a mayonnaise jar to connect the dots.
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