×

Welcome to the Slashdot Beta site -- learn more here. Use the link in the footer or click here to return to the Classic version of Slashdot.

Thank you!

Before you choose to head back to the Classic look of the site, we'd appreciate it if you share your thoughts on the Beta; your feedback is what drives our ongoing development.

Beta is different and we value you taking the time to try it out. Please take a look at the changes we've made in Beta and  learn more about it. Thanks for reading, and for making the site better!

AT&T Caps Netflix Streaming Costs At $68K/Yr

timothy posted about 2 years ago | from the for-a-hamburger-today dept.

Cellphones 433

theodp writes "What would you say if you went to join a gym and were told that it could cost you anywhere from $360 a year to $68,000 a year for the exact same usage? Don't be ridiculous, right? Well, that's really not so different from what the potential costs of streaming video on an AT&T smartphone are. According to AT&T's Data Usage Calculator, 1,440 minutes worth of streaming video consumes 2.81GB, which — if you manage to keep Netflix fired up all day and night — would result in a $360 annual bill under the grandfathered $30-monthly-unlimited-data plan, or $68,376 under the new $20-monthly-300MB plan. Still, that didn't stop a spokesman from characterizing the new AT&T data plans as 'a great value' for customers."

cancel ×
This is a preview of your comment

No Comment Title Entered

Anonymous Coward 1 minute ago

No Comment Entered

433 comments

So when did... (4, Insightful)

neonKow (1239288) | about 2 years ago | (#38804159)

...it become our God-given right to stream Netflix 24-7? And to get outraged that there is a bulk discount? AT&T has many, many issues already, so do you really need to contrive a completely unrealistic one to make a point?

Re:So when did... (3, Insightful)

SJHillman (1966756) | about 2 years ago | (#38804199)

The point is that some customers get a 99.48% discount for buying in bulk. How many other places offer that extreme of a discount? Should I get two McDoubles for a penny if I go to McDonalds every day?

Re:So when did... (0, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#38804321)

If that is what McDonald's wants to do, and you agree, then sure. If one of the two parties involved doesn't take the deal, then no.

Why should someone who isn't party to the transaction have any say?

Re:So when did... (4, Insightful)

John Courtland (585609) | about 2 years ago | (#38804723)

Because their tax dollars helped build and subsidize the infrastructure that AT&T uses.

Re:So when did... (5, Insightful)

Sentrion (964745) | about 2 years ago | (#38804929)

But corporate lobbyists also spent fortunes to get the government to subsidize their infrastructure. They are free to do what they want with what they bought and paid for. If you want your representatives to actually represent your interests then you should spend the same millions that the corporate lobbyists do. That is how our democracy works.

Re:So when did... (5, Insightful)

rtaylor (70602) | about 2 years ago | (#38804339)

It's large.

My gym charges about $650 per year or $20 for a day. Some have a $10 for an hour fee.

Are the $20/day people supposed to be outraged at paying $7300 for something I'm paying $650 for, or should they be happy they saved money for something they didn't really want.

The $10/hour guy would pay $87,600 if they used it all day every day; but why would someone doing that be paying by the hour?

Re:So when did... (5, Insightful)

PopeRatzo (965947) | about 2 years ago | (#38804589)

Maybe a better question is "how much does AT&T pay for that bandwidth for which they charge $20/250MB?

The issue might not be who gets the discount so much as "why is AT&T price-gouging for something for which there is so little choice?"

When you've only got a couple of choices, and AT&T actively works to keep the number choices limited, they have a privileged position. When a company is granted such privilege, they should be held to some responsibility, one of which is not to price-gouge.

"Price-gouging" is defined as "a pejorative term referring to a situation in which a seller prices goods or commodities much higher than is considered reasonable or fair". Who wants to argue that $20/250MB is "reasonable"?

Re:So when did... (0)

jeffmeden (135043) | about 2 years ago | (#38804861)

Maybe a better question is "how much does AT&T pay for that bandwidth for which they charge $20/250MB?

The issue might not be who gets the discount so much as "why is AT&T price-gouging for something for which there is so little choice?"

When you've only got a couple of choices, and AT&T actively works to keep the number choices limited, they have a privileged position. When a company is granted such privilege, they should be held to some responsibility, one of which is not to price-gouge.

"Price-gouging" is defined as "a pejorative term referring to a situation in which a seller prices goods or commodities much higher than is considered reasonable or fair". Who wants to argue that $20/250MB is "reasonable"?

reasonable
adjective

2.
not exceeding the limit prescribed by reason; not excessive

So what is their reason? Because a) people will clearly pay for it and b) all other providers (of which there are several) also charge similar fees. So to your question, yes it is quite easy to see this as "reasonable".

Re:So when did... (0, Troll)

defcon-11 (2181232) | about 2 years ago | (#38804957)

Wireless bandwidth is still limited and expensive. AT+T tried to buy out T-Mobile to get access to their 4g bandwidth, but that was shot down by the feds, so maybe you should be blaming the gov.

Re:So when did... (1)

ByOhTek (1181381) | about 2 years ago | (#38804599)

I think part of the complaint is that they no longer have the equivalent of a "$20/day" option, you only get it if you were grandfathered in.

That being said, there are other providers out there.

Re:So when did... (1)

Andy Dodd (701) | about 2 years ago | (#38804719)

One thing you are forgetting here:

In your example, the gym still offers the $650/year plan. In AT&T's case, only those who have it already can keep it - it has been this way for 1-2 years now.

In addition, AT&T is doing everything they can to force people off of the unlimited plan:
1) Capping those supposedly in the "top 5%" of data users - however, some people have gotten capping nastygrams when their monthly usage was BELOW the 2GB cap of the highest non-tethering plans!
2) Forcing users off of the unlimited plan by accusing them of tethering - even though using a browser that uses a desktop useragent (such as Dolphin HD) will trigger this even if you are not tethering at all.

Re:So when did... (1)

gstoddart (321705) | about 2 years ago | (#38804805)

My gym charges about $650 per year or $20 for a day. Some have a $10 for an hour fee.

I think if you read the articles listed a little more closely, this is more like they sold you the gym membership for $650 and said you kept that rate forever ... and then for all new people, it's a $10/hour fee, with even higher fees if you come too often.

This is not a case in which they could still opt for the $650/year price ... that option is no longer available to new members, they're stuck at the more expensive price now being offered. So they're going to pay a lot more for the same service you're getting.

They're no longer offering a $30/month unlimited ... they're offering $30/month for 300MB. And you can't convince AT&T to sell it to you for the old price.

And, the way they're going, soon they'll be selling you 100MB for $30/month ... at this rate, we can all expect to be using dialup in another 5 years. ;-)

Re:So when did... (1)

lightknight (213164) | about 2 years ago | (#38804927)

Indeed. Once your customer pays $650, it would be in the interest of the gym to switch someone over to the yearly plan.

Sure, it limits the immediate short-term source of revenue, but the good-will it generates may be sufficient to lure in more people (long-term). Since it's unlikely that all but the wealthiest / most insane individuals would continue to patronize a gym that charged them such a large amount over the short-term, in much the same way that cellphone companies lose customers may hitting them with sudden / extreme cellphone bills, it's in their best interest to continue the relationship.

Re:So when did... (1)

tnk1 (899206) | about 2 years ago | (#38804571)

It's not unheard of for there to be things like "founder's benefits" or "rent control" that grandfathers people into absurdly good rates.

The real question here is whether AT&T needs that money to expand their POS network or they're just being greedy. I'd wager it is some of both, but having said that, it's clear that AT&T doesn't have the network chops to offer unlimited utilization without some build out.

Re:So when did... (1)

ByOhTek (1181381) | about 2 years ago | (#38804649)

Call me nuts, but I have a friend, who lives in a much less densely populated country than the US, but has good cell coverage anyway, and pays $4/month. And no, it isn't a 3rd world country. If it were I could explain the difference, but as it is, I can't help but think that rampant greed is a huge factor in pretty much all cell companies here in the US.

The best I can do is $35/month for unlimited text/data/calls, and coverage is limited to my state, and only half-assed at best, there..

Re:So when did... (1)

garaged (579941) | about 2 years ago | (#38804797)

Are you kidding? Here in .mx third world we pay something like 80-100 usd for "unlimited" data cell plans

Re:So when did... (1)

jeffmeden (135043) | about 2 years ago | (#38804949)

Call me nuts, but I have a friend, who lives in a much less densely populated country than the US, but has good cell coverage anyway, and pays $4/month. And no, it isn't a 3rd world country. If it were I could explain the difference, but as it is, I can't help but think that rampant greed is a huge factor in pretty much all cell companies here in the US.

The best I can do is $35/month for unlimited text/data/calls, and coverage is limited to my state, and only half-assed at best, there..

That's because you aren't looking hard enough. Switch to a MVNO who resells a nationwide network (there are several for Sprint, AT&T, and Verizon) and you can find unlimited talk/text for around $40 a month, and it will work anywhere in the US. Higher data plans usually start in the $55/mo range. I call bullshit that your "friend" has any significant amount of talk time or data for his $4 USD/mo. Most other countries have very cheap texting and higher charges for minutes and data to offset it, and consequently texting is the preferred method of communication.

Re:So when did... (1)

jythie (914043) | about 2 years ago | (#38804593)

Is this a bulk discount, or a plan that is only available to people who already had it? From the OP it sounded like it was a grandfathered 'these people pay $360, everyone else pays XYZ, and there is no way for new people to get the lower rate' setup.

Re:So when did... (1)

Baloo Uriza (1582831) | about 2 years ago | (#38804795)

The bulk discount isn't available anymore, and there's a lot of territory whose ONLY phone company and ONLY internet access is AT&T Wireless. Think Oklahoma, and you don't have to go far, either; step out of the big cities just past where the electric and water grids go and *boom*, AT&T Only. Worse yet, despite receiving Rural Broadband money from the FCC to provide flat rate unlimited access to places like this, yet decided to slam everyone off the flat rate plan onto the metered plan without notice out there, something most people didn't discover until they had a $25,000 phone bill.

not so fast there alarmast headline writers. (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#38804161)

per article, the changes are:
$15 for 200MB => $20 for 300MB
$25 for 2GB => $30 for 3GB

Nice alarmist title.

Re:not so fast there alarmast headline writers. (1)

Skapare (16644) | about 2 years ago | (#38804229)

It's still way overpriced. It should be $1 for 1GB. We just need competition and the market will correct itself.

Re:not so fast there alarmast headline writers. (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#38804379)

It's still way overpriced. It should be $1 for 1GB. We just need competition and the market will correct itself.

Well, I think that your plan is overpriced. It should be $0.01 for 1GB.

See how pointless it is when you make up numbers just to make yourself happy?

Re:not so fast there alarmast headline writers. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#38804659)

It's still way overpriced. It should be $1 for 1GB. We just need competition and the market will correct itself.

Well, I think that your plan is overpriced. It should be $0.01 for 1GB.

See how pointless it is when you make up numbers just to make yourself happy?

Well I think it should be $Pi for Tau GB.

It may be pointless to make up numbers... but I did, and now I'm happy! Made up numbers FTW!

Re:not so fast there alarmast headline writers. (3, Informative)

what2123 (1116571) | about 2 years ago | (#38804399)

Ha, yeah right. I know exactly what you are thinking and I do agree. However the problem is that when a new competitor is able to get into the market, they are bought out by the larger businesses. Alltel was the first to really start offering decent services and a reasonable way before the 4-goons ever did/have. When they sold-out to Verizon the services were grandfathered in but after that the rates and services ceased to exist even for those grandfathered in.

Re:not so fast there alarmast headline writers. (3, Insightful)

realityimpaired (1668397) | about 2 years ago | (#38804675)

It's also cellular data that they're talking about. Anybody who would watch Netflix 24/7 in high definition over a cellular connection needs to have their head examined. (you did notice that the link to the "data usage calculator" was for the wireless calculator, right?)

Over a wired connection, the rate is significantly more reasonable. But it wouldn't make as interesting a sensationalist headline.

Re:not so fast there alarmast headline writers. (1)

emj (15659) | about 2 years ago | (#38804277)

The max cost need to be in there, and having to pay $70000 just because you forgot to turn off your phone is not a good thing. This is important because people do not see this problem, and tend to laugh at "losers" affected by it. Pressure should be on the Telcos to have fair pricing, not on the customers.

So no it's not alarmist, it's trying to expose telcos for what they are, and hopefully change them.

Re:not so fast there alarmast headline writers. (3, Insightful)

brainzach (2032950) | about 2 years ago | (#38804333)

You don't calculate your water bill based on if you leave all the faucets in your house on for 24/7.

I don't see the big deal as long as AT&T notifies the customer of overages when they occur.

Re:not so fast there alarmast headline writers. (5, Interesting)

ifiwereasculptor (1870574) | about 2 years ago | (#38804457)

They should prompt you for buying a new data allowance when your expires. And, ideally, they should charge you for Mb, not simply shove another 300Mb/1Gb down your throat. Sometimes you run into your cap on the last few days of the month and would rather simply wait for the refresh instead of paying 100% more for 10% more data.

Re:not so fast there alarmast headline writers. (1)

Overzeetop (214511) | about 2 years ago | (#38804535)

Man, I wish I had mod points. An option to require an agree button to purchase more data would be ideal. I went over my limit once on my iPad, and got a notification that I was reaching my limit - 10 hours after I'd gone over it. It's not the end of the world, and $15 isn't going to kill me, but it would have been nice to have to manually authorize the overage.

Re:not so fast there alarmast headline writers. (5, Insightful)

jeffmeden (135043) | about 2 years ago | (#38804403)

The max cost need to be in there, and having to pay $70000 just because you forgot to turn off your phone is not a good thing. This is important because people do not see this problem, and tend to laugh at "losers" affected by it. Pressure should be on the Telcos to have fair pricing, not on the customers.

So no it's not alarmist, it's trying to expose telcos for what they are, and hopefully change them.

If you "forget" about your phone the battery will die after about 45 minutes of this kind of usage, so, not to worry! And for what it's worth this has been going on ever since the invention of long distance; you have always been able to dig a real deep hole for yourself. Say you call your aunt in Armenia and you both forget to put the phone totally back on the hook; one month later you will have an $86,000 phone bill. Think that's changed any? You can opt to purchase more affordable plans, which is no different than in this scenario, but if you choose to be completely dumb about it yes you can find yourself owing a LOT of money. That's the price of being a grownup.

Fuck AT&T (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#38804167)

Fuck them in their asses!

Sounds like my utility company (5, Interesting)

SJHillman (1966756) | about 2 years ago | (#38804169)

Utilities and the like seem to like to do crazy things with billing based on usage. My gas/electric company reads the meter every other month and estimates for the months they don't read based on past usage. I've had a number of months in the past year estimated gas use so high that they mark it as 0 use the next month when they read the meter (which means I'm still paying for gas I don't use because I really doubt it comes to exactly even every time). However, even on months where they bill me for 0 gas use, I still get a nice plump "delivery charge". Isn't this like FedEx sending you a bill because they could have delivered a package even though they didn't?

Re:Sounds like my utility company (5, Informative)

jeffmeden (135043) | about 2 years ago | (#38804301)

I would get a hold of your local public utilities commission if this is really happening; that's certainly not the way that estimated usage billing should work and you are right that it's bullshit that they basically charge you for 2 months of usage up front and then ride out the cash. Sounds like they either have a super shitty estimation process or they are deliberately trying to pad their books to keep the cash flowing.

Re:Sounds like my utility company (2)

jythie (914043) | about 2 years ago | (#38804631)

A lot of utilities do it this way. I have had both water and power companies bill like this, including going for months paying zero because they over estimated during the previous cycle. Annoying, but not uncommon.

Re:Sounds like my utility company (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#38804909)

Most public utilities have some "minimum fees" clause - for example, my water bill is a minimum of $36 per quarter (that's three months) regardless of whether I use that much water or not. If they pad it out up front, you'll pay an overage on the first quarter and then still end up paying a minimum on the second quarter of the year. Definitely dishonest.

Re:Sounds like my utility company (2, Funny)

argStyopa (232550) | about 2 years ago | (#38804475)

Are you suggesting that state-run monopolies might not be competitive or customer-oriented?

That's unpossible.

Re:Sounds like my utility company (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#38804651)

I am going to guess that they are not screwing you over. Check your meter on the day that they read it against your bill and see if the total usage is equal. I am guessing they are only reading it down to 0 and will make up for it on the next bi-monthly cycle.

Re:Sounds like my utility company (1)

DRJlaw (946416) | about 2 years ago | (#38804763)

I've had a number of months in the past year estimated gas use so high that they mark it as 0 use the next month when they read the meter (which means I'm still paying for gas I don't use because I really doubt it comes to exactly even every time). However, even on months where they bill me for 0 gas use, I still get a nice plump "delivery charge". Isn't this like FedEx sending you a bill because they could have delivered a package even though they didn't?

So have I.

A. If your gas use varies a lot month to month, because your gas usage is not driven by your primary home heating unit, then you will have months where your usage is far lower than estimated. The utility company is basically applying a smoothing algorithm based on based usage and heating degree days. It can be wrong. I'm don't feel particularly aggrieved since the gas company is permitting me a one month float (normal billing) more often than I'm giving them a one month float (overestimate). When I switch to gas heat, I expect that situation will occur a lot less.

B. In many states the gas commodity charge and the gas delivery infrastructure charge are separate. Whether you choose to use gas is irrelevant. You're tapped into the delivery system pipes, and those cost a substantial amount of money to install and maintain. If you don't want to pay the delivery charge, have your gas service disconnected. It's not like FedEx in your example -- FedEx isn't placing permanent underground infrastructure up to your property (and in some states, to up to your meter or black iron) which you may draw from at will.

As long as it's neutral (2)

JAlexoi (1085785) | about 2 years ago | (#38804173)

As long as they don't prioritise one data stream over the other, I'm OK with the total download caps. When they start offering Unlimited Nexflix addon, then you should start worrying.

Re:As long as it's neutral (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#38804237)

Why are you okay with any kind of download cap?

They're robbing you blind. All of the cellular operators are.

The same cost for 2GB of bandwidth on a relatively expensive DSL plan ($14.99/month for 1.5Mbit) runs to approximately $0.02.
The 12Mbit plan for $19.99 brings that down to under a penny.

How much *profit* should they be allowed to carry 300MB? and are they using MiB (1024 x 1024) or MB (1000 x 1000)?
This is why I refuse to get a smart phone and data plan, and have texting disabled on my cell phone. My cell phone is just that, a phone, nothing more.
I refuse to lube up for their strap-ons.

Re:As long as it's neutral (3, Insightful)

scottbomb (1290580) | about 2 years ago | (#38804337)

"How much *profit* should they be allowed..."

As much as the market will pay. And comparing DSL to cellular is comparing apples to oranges.

Re:As long as it's neutral (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#38804877)

Wrong. These are regulated monopolies; we trust them with our very limited spectrum with the understanding that they will provide services that are in our best interest. This includes in terms of price.

The gradual lessening of service per dollar is a genuine concern.

Re:As long as it's neutral (1)

what2123 (1116571) | about 2 years ago | (#38804527)

The same cost for 2GB of bandwidth on a relatively expensive DSL plan ($14.99/month for 1.5Mbit) runs to approximately $0.02.

That gave me a good laugh. In my part of the States "cheap" DSL is $19.99 for 768Kb. To get to 1.5Mb you are talking at least $29.99 and that's usually when it's bundled with phone. Otherwise you are looking at the $30+ range.

Re:As long as it's neutral (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#38804745)

Sorry, we have 20+Mbit plans for 19.99 here as well, just not in my area.

Already happening (1)

GameboyRMH (1153867) | about 2 years ago | (#38804565)

This exact shit is already happening. Airlines offering free Facebook and Twitter (other content costs money), ISPs offering cap exemptions for Windows Update...

Re:Already happening (1)

tixxit (1107127) | about 2 years ago | (#38804883)

The Windows update one does make a lot of sense, as it directly benefits the ISP to have their customers' computers up-to-date with the latest security patches. Moreover, I don't see much of a win for MS, since I highly doubt that even 1 person would choose Windows over OS X or Linux because their monthly windows update is exempt. "Man, I love me some Linux, but the thought of that exempt 100mb download each month is too hard to resist!"

Bullshit Strawman (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#38804197)

Yes, because it's entirely reasonable that someone would sign up for the lowest possible data plan, and then use as much bandwidth as possible for every second of every day. Obviously, that plan is designed for people who intend to use streaming very little, if at all, and it is a very good value for those people. No, not as good a value as the old $30 unlimited, but that was obviously not sustainable as phone bandwidth usage increased massively. Remember when the $30 unlimited plan was created, Netflix for the phone didn't exist, and most phones struggled to stream very low res video.

Re:Bullshit Strawman (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#38804587)

No, it's intended for people who sign up for the most inexpensive plan and don't realize that even the most basic daily websurfing will end up pushing you well over the bandwidth limit.

I am consistently over 1GB a month even when I don't use Netflix on my phone while at the gym. If simple websurfing, e-mail checking, and very limited application use (compared to peers) pushes 1GB a month then 200MB is just a gimmick to make money in fees.

Re:Bullshit Strawman (1)

realityimpaired (1668397) | about 2 years ago | (#38804859)

And yet... I manage to stay under 25MB/mo most months.... It depends on what you use it for. My data gets used for e-mail, and calendar/contact syncing and that's it. With my carrier, $5/mo buys me the lowest tier of their flex data plan, and I'm set. My cell bill came to $40 last month (150 anytime minutes, 5pm unlimited evenings/weekends, unlimited long distance, unlimited global texting, call display/voicemail, and data), how much was yours?

Not everybody wants data so they can check their Facebook and Twitter every 5 minutes.

Re:Bullshit Strawman (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#38804597)

79.95 unlimited text/voice (mobile to mobile at least)/data

Re:Bullshit Strawman (1)

MetalliQaZ (539913) | about 2 years ago | (#38804603)

I agree for the most part, except for that "obviously not sustainable" part.
The phone companies complain loudly, but I don't trust them to be forthcoming about their business. Increasing network capacity is possible, but probably expensive. They don't want to if they don't have to.
The commercials on TV advertise the kind of usage that would lead to an absurdly large bill. They actively sell it to customers. Then, they turn around and demonize the users who actually use the phones as advertised.
Have you seen the "that's so 27 seconds ago" ads? They feature some average-looking Americans (1 fat white guy and 1 fat black guy) surfing with their phones non-stop, including YouTube. They would blow that bandwidth cap in the time frame of 1 commercial break at that rate.

Re:Bullshit Strawman (1)

GameboyRMH (1153867) | about 2 years ago | (#38804677)

Still I think that for safety most people would like their yearly costs capped at a sensible number, say, somewhere around the cost of a flat screen TV, rather than a Lotus Exige S.

Really? (1)

Jeffsmashkot (1406879) | about 2 years ago | (#38804213)

If you're able to estimate that you'd use 2.81GB a month doing this, why would you ever elect to have a 300MB plan. You can get 30GB for $30.00 a month, which would keep your annual cost around $360.00 a year excluding taxes and other fees - same as the unlimited plan. People either lack common sense, or someone was trying really hard to troll this morning.

Re:Really? (3, Interesting)

Aladrin (926209) | about 2 years ago | (#38804319)

It's just the usual 'I used to get everything for FREE' rant that ignores the fact that the company has costs and unlimited plans were doomed from the start. They are so massively unfair to 90% of the users that I'm surprised there aren't more people clamoring for cheaper, metered plans.

I say this while I'm in the top 5%, if not the top 1%. When I was in highschool, back in the dialup days, I was "#1 abuser" at my local ISP. Yes, they told me that directly. I was part of the reason they ended their 'unlimited' dialup plan. (They nearly went out of business soon after and ended up selling out to an ISP that still had an unlimited plan.)

The problem is that the word 'unlimited' is very attractive to us, even if we're paying more than we should. At the moment, I have unlimited internet bandwidth, cell minutes, cell texts, cell bandwidth and probably other things I've forgotten. With my usage, it probably makes sense. What doesn't make sense is that the entire rest of my family (not living near me) has most of the same unlimited things, and they'd probably be better off with metered service. But they've got this 'don't want to pay overages' mentality that makes them keep paying too much. Notice that I said, "probably makes sense" for me. I haven't done the math! I could very well save some money if I examined it, but I feel a resistance to even doing that.

tl;dr - It's a psychological thing that overrides logic.

Unlimited = no overusage fee (2)

AwaxSlashdot (600672) | about 2 years ago | (#38804443)

For a customer, the best part of "unlimited" is not about being about to download petabytes of data.
The great part is about being able to download whatever he wants without worrying if he will be billed pricey overcharge fees for this.

He knows in advanced what he will pay every month, even if this is more than what he would have paid with a lower plan with overcharge fees.

Re:Really? (1)

gstoddart (321705) | about 2 years ago | (#38804633)

If you're able to estimate that you'd use 2.81GB a month doing this, why would you ever elect to have a 300MB plan. You can get 30GB for $30.00 a month, which would keep your annual cost around $360.00 a year excluding taxes and other fees - same as the unlimited plan.

Actually, I think the point is they won't give you a $30 unlimited plan any more.

Judging by the link [att.com] in TFS ... you can get 3GB (not 30GB) for $30/month .. and you can get $5GB for $50 (I'm going on smart phones here). And, it says you'll be automatically charged for any overages.

So it sounds like people who had the old $30/month for unlimited can get way more for less money than someone newly signing up now. So those people are paying the same monthly fee for unlimited which any new customer is going to pay for 300MB ... so 1/10th the data for the exact same price. If I was paying 10x the price for something as the guy across the street, I'd be feeling ripped off.

This is more about the perception (or fact) that the company is jacking up the price for the same service over time ... quite possibly just to make more money without needing to invest in more infrastructure.

This, unfortunately, is how these things have been trending ... the cable/cell phone companies have been flogging their "newer bigger faster" networks, but in the process they also seem to be becoming more restrictive and expensive.

When AT&T asserts their new plans offer "great value" for their customers, it seems that the truth of that is that these new plans offer great profits. In fact, the entire 4th link in the summary is someone arguing that AT&T's new prices is essentially price gouging.

Instead of the cost of data going down over time, it's going up ... largely because now they're trying to sell the same data to a lot more people, and also because they haven't expanded their capacity to keep up with their marketing of it.

Re:Really? (1)

shadowrat (1069614) | about 2 years ago | (#38804799)

They really missed out on a chance to make it even more expensive. They could have factored in buying a new phone every time you need to recharge. You used to be able to buy a new battery, now your contract locks you in to one battery. You would also have to buy all models of smartphone to make sure you could use every app from every app store. After all, there was a time when there was only the one app store. Now the cost to own every app possible has skyrocketed!

Only video? (2)

TheDarkMaster (1292526) | about 2 years ago | (#38804215)

This can generate a huge bill to any cloud-based "app" (I hate this buzzword) too. On this days of "web 2.0", any reasonable plan can not limit usage

Re:Only video? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#38804691)

"App" is a buzzword? strange, i thought it was just an abbreviation for "application".

That's how some gyms work (1)

billrp (1530055) | about 2 years ago | (#38804223)

Some gyms charge lower monthly fees if you only show up during off-peak hours. Then they get you to pay for classes you go to at peak times. So what would I say? Maybe I guess I bought the wrong monthly plan?

AT&T has a 3GB plan now (5, Informative)

alen (225700) | about 2 years ago | (#38804227)

3GB data for $30 a month

article is FUD

Re:AT&T has a 3GB plan now (2)

Jawnn (445279) | about 2 years ago | (#38804265)

No. It is inaccurate, but the point is still valid - There is a vast gulf between "unlimited" and 3 GB.

Re:AT&T has a 3GB plan now (1)

dcm684 (1281754) | about 2 years ago | (#38804515)

The $30 / month is the price of the old, unlimited data plan. It is not available to those who weren't grandfathered in when the new data tiers were created.

Breaking news, service provider chooses to tier... (1)

jeffmeden (135043) | about 2 years ago | (#38804251)

Wow, I can't believe that AT&T (of all companies,) would offer customers a way to pay either a little bit for something, or a way to pay a shit ton for the same thing! Just wait until [insert some useless governing body here] gets a load of this! They will be outraged! /sarcasm

And yes I get that the $30/unlimited is no longer a choice when signing a contract, but you *can* choose the $30/3GB plan where the overage is only $10/1GB resulting in approximately $820 in overage fees, instead of $68,000.

Re:Breaking news, service provider chooses to tier (1)

tilante (2547392) | about 2 years ago | (#38804627)

Actually, a 3 GB plan would result in no overage fees in the scenario given, since the user was using 2.81 GB / month. So he'd be paying... exactly the same as he would with the old unlimited plan.

Thank you AT&T (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#38804259)

Thank you AT&T for your meager rationing of bandwidth in return for all my money. Obviously, you need it more than I. From att.com": AT&T Reports Solid Earnings, Strong Cash Flow, Robust Mobile Broadband Sales and Improving Wireline Revenue Trends (Q3 2011)

This is incredibly stupid (3, Insightful)

jeff4747 (256583) | about 2 years ago | (#38804263)

AT&T offers larger chunks of data for less per megabyte. So if you're expecting to stream 3GB, buy 3GB.

You wouldn't be a complete moron and buy the smallest data plan and then let it up-charge you over and over again.

Re:This is incredibly stupid (2)

s_p_oneil (795792) | about 2 years ago | (#38804415)

"You wouldn't be a complete moron and buy the smallest data plan and then let it up-charge you over and over again."

Apparently if you were the author of this article, you would be.

1440 minutes are "only" 24h not a whole month (2)

AwaxSlashdot (600672) | about 2 years ago | (#38804281)

A whole month of streaming is 96.3GB.

Oups, my mistake (1)

AwaxSlashdot (600672) | about 2 years ago | (#38804349)

The data usage link points to a screenshot of MONTHLY usage while the "article" speaks about daily usage. Indeed.

Re:1440 minutes are "only" 24h not a whole month (1)

jeffmeden (135043) | about 2 years ago | (#38804447)

That's how they got *to* the total; they didn't show their math in any sane way but the argument was if you did 24h * 30d of 2.8gb/hr you would end up with that much in overage. Don't worry, it's stupid bullshit either way.

Brought to you by my iPhone (1)

sl4shd0rk (755837) | about 2 years ago | (#38804293)

us cellular has unlimited data plans and so does sprint. why does AT&T need to gang rape it's customers?

Re:Brought to you by my iPhone (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#38804473)

Because their customers won't leave them. They have a choice to, and they choose not to.

Same reason Apple rapes its customers.

Re:Brought to you by my iPhone (1)

amoeba1911 (978485) | about 2 years ago | (#38804541)

There's no such thing as unlimited. Sprint's "unlimited" plan: friend's iphone 4s on sprint has bandwidth of about 200kbps.

All I know is (1)

Chas (5144) | about 2 years ago | (#38804313)

Movie industry execs and telco execs are getting some really FUNKY shit from their drug dealers if they think people have forgotten common skills like...math.

Does bandwidth cost money? (1)

djfake (977121) | about 2 years ago | (#38804315)

Does it cost AT&T more money to have more bandwidth flowing across their network? If the same number of customers were all streaming Netflix at the same time, what would happen? Do packets really have cost?

Re:Does bandwidth cost money? (1)

3.5 stripes (578410) | about 2 years ago | (#38804679)

Yes, bandwidth costs money, the fiber it flows over costs money, the routers that move the packets cost money, the peering agreements cost money, the data centers cost money, the technicians cost money, etc etc..

Re:Does bandwidth cost money? (1)

Targon (17348) | about 2 years ago | (#38804699)

Yes, there IS a cost, you just don't understand how much of an expense there is.

Fiber has a limit on how much bandwidth can be handled per strand, and in general, due to increased costs, carriers will NOT run a fiber bundle the size of one of Arnold Schwartzenagers biceps to each and every cell phone tower. The routers used to handle the traffic also have a limited capacity in how much data they can handle. So, what happens when the amount of data being used exceeds the capacity of the equipment? Slowdowns show up, and you have the complaints about AT&T that you must have heard about. So, carriers need to continually upgrade the equipment as the data usage goes up, and that means continued costs for that new equipment.

For cable and DSL providers, the data usage is fairly steady overall when everyone in an area has service, with spikes in usage that can cause some issues. So, they DO have to upgrade the equipment from time to time, but it is easier to predict the amount of data ahead of time for each network node. When people can roam around, the same person streaming video content will cause the data usage to move from tower to tower, so you could go from 5,000 people using data on a given tower to 7500 people using that same tower, but it isn't predictable. Go to a small town in Nebraska, and you may NEVER see data usage go up very high...until a basketball championship comes to town and drives demand through the roof. It's unpredictable in the mobile space, and yet, people expect the carriers to be able to predict and plan for every event, even while they don't offer service EVERYWHERE yet.

So yes, there is a cost to the providers to increase capacity, add/upgrade routers, and then you have all the maintenance as equipment goes bad. I'm sure you have had a car or computer die on you...did you buy a replacement after the first year, just in case the one you plan to use for five years dies on you? Companies DO tend to buy replacement parts in limited quantities, but if something major happens, they may not have replacements for EVERYTHING. Packets really do have a cost, but with fiber, it is fairly low on a per-packet basis. $50/month for 15 megabit download speeds with unlimited usage isn't really so terrible, but for cellular, the costs are higher.

Re:Does bandwidth cost money? (1)

PSVMOrnot (885854) | about 2 years ago | (#38804879)

It depends on how you look at it. The act of sending a packet of data through their network doesn't cost them anything, or at least not noticably. The big cost is in installing and maintaining the equipment.

So what they are doing is converting their capital cost (the cost of equipment) into a marginal cost for the customer ($ per GB)

The other trick they are doing is using the pricing to influence customers to limit their usage. While there is no real cost of sending data which they do have capacity for, there is another big outlay for equipment if they have to increase their networks capacity to allow for more traffic.

So in summary, Netflix came to the mobile, AT&T saw their traffic jump up, needed more bandwidth and so chose to make people use less (caps & cost) rather than, or in addition to increasing capacity.

Stupid comparison (1)

Zouden (232738) | about 2 years ago | (#38804361)

This is like complaining that it costs more to park near your local supermarket, when all they've done is add some extra handicap places. The fine you pay for parking in a handicapped spot isn't the cost of parking there, it's the cost of breaking the rules. Similarly, you're not supposed to sign up for this $20/month plan and then stream Netflix all day. If you want Netflix, get a plan with a bigger limit. It's not that hard.

Apple Trolled and Tricked (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#38804427)

The only reason why AT&T is still around is because of the iPhone. You know it's true, get a green robot phone instead and root it and use esperanto speaking libertarian wifi hotspots only.

ENOUGH (1)

amoeba1911 (978485) | about 2 years ago | (#38804479)

I am sick of "plans". What the hell is a cell phone "plan"? There is no plan, this is all retarded. I want a cell wireless data company to just say: "You give us $20 and we give you 2GB on our network". It's as simple as that, simply cuts off after the 2GB is over because that's what you paid for, no super high fees, no bullshit. Just GB for $$. That's it. Not complicated.

No, instead of simply selling bandwidth they choose to make all kinds of complicated illogical nonsensical absurd "plans" which mean nothing. Enough of this crap already, ENOUGH!

Re:ENOUGH (1)

jdcope (932508) | about 2 years ago | (#38804887)

They make money on the overage fees. Thats why there is such a gap in data between the plans. I would also like to be able to have the option of a smart-phone plan that is Wi-Fi only. Why do I have to pay for a data plan at all? Wi-Fi is practically everywhere.

So for extreme uses unlimited plan is cheaper. (2)

jellomizer (103300) | about 2 years ago | (#38804481)

Umm well Duh.

As well this Gym Analogy isn't apt. Because it is more like a case you can have an unlimited Gym Membership for a month for $30 or you can choose to pay by the hour (Say $1.00 an hour) while you are there.
So if you are the guy who goes to the gym for 2 hours a day every day the Unlimited $30 a month is a better value. Because the other plan will have you paying around $60.00 a month.
If you are the average Joe who goes to the gym say 3 times a week for 1 hour. The hourly plan is cheaper because he will be paying $15.00 a month.

For most of the people the hourly rate will be a better value because if they do go to the gym every day it will normally be for 1 hour and they will normally have reasons to miss a day. However for the the guy who is addicted to exercise or is really trying to get buffed, that pay per usage will be more expensive.

Now the same will AT&T Plan. For most people we are getting a better rate, then before, however we don't like being metered, even if it is cheaper. We much rather pay more and have a consistent bill then a fluctuation bill even if the average is cheaper.

Are people really that stupid? (2)

Targon (17348) | about 2 years ago | (#38804485)

If you were planning to stream video content, why would ANYONE go with the 300MB plan, instead of the 3GB plan? If you plan to use data, then you go with the plan that gives you the appropriate amount of data for what you want. AT&T DOES offer pay as you go data for those who do not have a smartphone, and it costs more per megabyte than if you go with a data plan.

Smartphones tend to have "phone home" features to check for updates and such, and if you don't have a data plan, customers who buy a smartphone without planning to use any data services would freak out about "what is this data usage fee on my bill". That is why all carriers REQUIRE a data plan for those who buy a smartphone. People have to accept that if they plan to use data, they should NOT go with a low-end data plan, and they should go to the 2GB or above plan.

2.81GB of data...fits in the new 3GB plan offered by AT&T. So, what's the problem?

Re:Are people really that stupid? (1)

compro01 (777531) | about 2 years ago | (#38804643)

2.81GB of data...fits in the new 3GB plan offered by AT&T. So, what's the problem?

Yeah, it would, if it wasn't 2.81GB PER DAY.

1440 minutes== 24 hours

Re:Are people really that stupid? (1)

NJRoadfan (1254248) | about 2 years ago | (#38804695)

Smartphones tend to have "phone home" features to check for updates and such, and if you don't have a data plan, customers who buy a smartphone without planning to use any data services would freak out about "what is this data usage fee on my bill". That is why all carriers REQUIRE a data plan for those who buy a smartphone.

No, carriers got greedy and wanted money from ALL smartphone users, including ones who opted for Wi-Fi only and never planned to use cellular data. It used to be that one could opt for a complete block of cellular data connections on smartphones if they didn't want to pay for a data plan.

Re:Are people really that stupid? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#38804899)

I work for ATT and while I do not agree with many policies the company makes, as part of my job I have to take escalations and explain them.

Iphone users tend to stream, many in the the 10-15 gigs a month through their phones. the median range being 3-5 gigs, which is the reason ATT stripped away the unlimited plan. It is always the iphone users, especially the less tech savvy ones who use large blocks of data.

As for the 200 meg plan, people choose it because it is because it is the lowest cost. But they generally switch to the 2 gig after they get 100 dollars in overages, because they sit on their couch using it instead of connecting it to wifi.

Money grubbing whores (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#38804495)

Money grubbing whores, plain and simple.

Math is HARD (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#38804521)

The bigger issue here is- there are much more than 1440 minutes in a month.

24 hours in a day X 60 minutes an hour = 1440. So this is hardly "unlimited Netflix use".

Article is FUD. Typical for this crowd, though...

300Mb is about 500 browser page views (1)

montyzooooma (853414) | about 2 years ago | (#38804559)

With the average size of a web page getting close to 1Mb in size. So 20 page views a day and you're in danger of exceeding your subscriber data cap and heading into charged territory.

Yup... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#38804563)

...some people dislike capitalism.

Do we get to keep our old plans? (1)

Overzeetop (214511) | about 2 years ago | (#38804569)

It's not clear, either in TFA or on the AT&T site that you get to keep your old plan. One of the reasons for staying with AT&T (for me) is that they have the cheapest data plan at $15. If there were a $10/100MB plan, I'd probably get that as I average about 50-60MB per month. I rarely - if ever - stream media, and use my plan for looking up data and getting email/text/google voice when I'm out. I'll be pissed, and looking at switching both my phones to Verizon, if they force me into a higher cost plan.

Are You Thick? (2)

Bob9113 (14996) | about 2 years ago | (#38804573)

What would you say if you went to join a gym and were told that it could cost you anywhere from $360 a year to $68,000 a year for the exact same usage? Don't be ridiculous, right?

While it may be ridiculous that they still allow anyone to use the $360 "all you can download" plan, they have grandfathered those people in. I don't even really find it ridiculous. I think it is their obligation to complete each contract under its original terms.

Oh, or are you saying you want your new contract to be "all you can download for $360"? Are you thick? Do you have an "all you can burn" plan set up with your local gas station?

More accurate pricing, even when does not benefit you individually in the short run, is a good thing for everyone in the long run. We want AT&T to get paid for high usage, so they are financially incentivized to build out the network. Under the old way of billing, high usage was being subsidized by low-usage customers, and AT&T was incentivized to inhibit high usage by such extreme measures as throttling, which sucks. You are being short-sighted, quit whining.

No way! (1)

nedlohs (1335013) | about 2 years ago | (#38804585)

If you are going to use lots of data then an unlimited plan is better than a metered plan. Who would have thunk?

It's almost like if you plan on spending 24 hours a day at the gym a monthly membership would be cheaper than day passes.

really, all video streaming is the same? (1)

DragonTHC (208439) | about 2 years ago | (#38804843)

1,440 minutes worth of streaming video consumes 2.81GB

at what bitrate?

I'd have to say that's BS for HD video streaming.

Notes from someone who had the bottom-tier plan (2)

tilante (2547392) | about 2 years ago | (#38804897)

A few notes here from a long-time AT&T user who used to have the bottom-of-the-barrel plan:

- AT&T sends you a notification when you've used more than 50% of your bandwidth for the month. I used to get these all the time, usually about two days before the month was over, since they apparently just do it via high-water mark, and aren't building any kind of prediction of "will they go over".

- In that notification, it lets you know that you'll get another notification when you hit 90%, which they do send. Again, like the other one, it doesn't look at how close you are to the end of the month -- it can be the last day of your billing cycle, and you'll get the notification if you hit 90%.

- In both notifications, you're directed to go to AT&T's web site if you think you need to adjust your plan.

- If you do adjust your plan, your cap is immediately raised. A couple of times, I got the 90% notification (because I was using my phone for Internet more than usual due to traveling). Both times, I went to the web site (on my phone one of the times, in fact) and switched to a higher plan.

- When you switch to a higher plan, AT&T pro-rates it. Thus, if you're three days from the end of the month and you switch from the $20/month plan to the $30/month, you don't get charged $10 right then. Instead, you get charged an additional $1 on the next month's bill. Of course, that bill will now be at the higher rate plan, but....

- Once the new billing cycle has started, you can switch back to the lower plan at anytime. If you do, the higher plan will be pro-rated down, and the adjustment will go on your next month's bill.

Now, I'm not sure how often AT&T actually runs the job that sends the notifications, or if it's a trigger of some sort in their databases -- I never used enough in less than one day to push myself over. I do know that I got the 50% notification at several different times of day, so it's not just a once-a-day thing.

So, if you're bored in an airport and find yourself watching a ton of Netflix on your AT&T phone, just take a minute to go to their site and adjust your plan. Once your billing cycle ends, adjust it back. And AT&T will give you two notifications that you're approaching your limit.

Granted, the price per megabyte may be ridiculous on the lowest tier... but it basically exists so those who want a smartphone, but don't use a lot of data, can have a lower-priced plan. And AT&T isn't trying to entrap anyone -- they give plenty of warning that you're approaching your limit, and make it easy to avoid actually hitting that limit and getting upcharged at the high rate.

Load More Comments
Slashdot Account

Need an Account?

Forgot your password?

Don't worry, we never post anything without your permission.

Submission Text Formatting Tips

We support a small subset of HTML, namely these tags:

  • b
  • i
  • p
  • br
  • a
  • ol
  • ul
  • li
  • dl
  • dt
  • dd
  • em
  • strong
  • tt
  • blockquote
  • div
  • quote
  • ecode

"ecode" can be used for code snippets, for example:

<ecode>    while(1) { do_something(); } </ecode>
Sign up for Slashdot Newsletters
Create a Slashdot Account

Loading...