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AT&T Should Be Investigated For 'Fraudulent' Data Policies, Says PK

Soulskill posted more than 2 years ago | from the reach-out-and-throttle-someone dept.

AT&T 138

zacharye writes "AT&T on Monday announced a new plan that will let developers pay for the data used by their apps and services. The data consumed by apps that make use of this new feature would not apply toward a user's data cap. The new service was pitched as a way for content providers to ease customers' growing concerns over wireless data usage, however one public interest group sees the feature as a slap in the face to AT&T subscribers. 'This new plan is unfortunate because it shows how fraudulent the AT&T data cap is, and calls into question the whole rationale of the data caps,' Harold Feld, legal director of Public Knowledge, said in a statement. 'Apparently it has nothing to do with network management. It's a tool to get more revenue from developers and customers.'"

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AT&T Investigated (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39190289)

I don't need to read more than "AT&T Investigated" in order to agree.

That is all.

Hang'em high.

Re:AT&T Investigated (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39190445)

Barack Obama is a stuttering clusterfuck of a miserable failure.

Re:AT&T Investigated (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39190607)

Barack Obama is a stuttering clusterfuck of a miserable failure.

No, no, no!

Is he in charge of a Cell phone company, airline, cable TV company, bank or credit card company?

no.

Therefore, he is not entirely evil.

I know, he's a politician.

But he's just a demon. The real devils are behind the scenes.

That's something the retarded American public (especially Fox News viewers and Talk Radio listeners) don't get.

Now, my fellow AC - shut the fuck up.

Re:AT&T Investigated (2, Insightful)

interval1066 (668936) | more than 2 years ago | (#39190781)

No, no, no!

Yeah, he kinda is. Direct quote from him during the election: "Mine will be the most transparent administration in history." We now have back room deals with record labels and the Department of Homeland Security search and seizure of laptops at border crossings and the wonderful National Defense Authorization Act of 2012 which is a direct violation of the fourth amendment. Yeah, he's a real charmer.

That's something the retarded American public (especially Fox News viewers and Talk Radio listeners) don't get.

No, of course not. Anyone opposing this guy is obviously evil. Freedom of speech is a gift, until you get into power. Then its a real problem.

Re:AT&T Investigated (4, Insightful)

Vancorps (746090) | more than 2 years ago | (#39191095)

Except that the only one's using the words evil are those opposing Obama, you should check your inflammatory rhetoric as it will accomplish nothing. You can state that you are unhappy that he hasn't lived up to certain campaign promises but to call him evil in the face of all the horrors that were acceptable under his predecessor is quite disingenuous given that most of these policies started with him. Of course many of the policies we all disagree with go back much further to Reagan.

I hate this hyper-polarized political climate we have these days, people spend way too much time calling people names and not enough time actually debating the issues.

Re:AT&T Investigated (1)

Cinder6 (894572) | more than 2 years ago | (#39191187)

Except that the only one's using the words evil are those opposing Obama[...]

That's not really surprising. No sane person is going to say (or believe) that the person they support is evil.

Re:AT&T Investigated (0, Troll)

interval1066 (668936) | more than 2 years ago | (#39191303)

Direct quote from him during the election: "Mine will be the most transparent administration in history."

The administration clearly is not. That is evil.

Re:AT&T Investigated (0)

evilRhino (638506) | more than 2 years ago | (#39191449)

OP taking issue with Obama's betrayal of his duty to uphold the American Constitution, specifically the Fourth Amendment, *isn't* name calling. It is arguing the issue.

Re:AT&T Investigated (3, Insightful)

SirGeek (120712) | more than 2 years ago | (#39191113)

No, no, no!

Yeah, he kinda is. Direct quote from him during the election: "Mine will be the most transparent administration in history." We now have back room deals with record labels and the Department of Homeland Security search and seizure of laptops at border crossings and the wonderful National Defense Authorization Act of 2012 which is a direct violation of the fourth amendment. Yeah, he's a real charmer.

And when did he start writing the laws ? Oh you mean the senate and the house wrote and passed the law (and probably had enough votes to override his veto) ? Oh. Never mind then.

Re:AT&T Investigated (3, Informative)

interval1066 (668936) | more than 2 years ago | (#39191341)

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/National_Defense_Authorization_Act_for_Fiscal_Year_2012 [wikipedia.org] : "The National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) for Fiscal Year 2012 was signed into United States law on December 31, 2011 by President Barack Obama... In a signing statement, President Obama described the Act as addressing national security programs, Department of Defense health care costs, counter-terrorism within the U.S. and abroad, and military modernization.[" He endorsed this little gem.

Re:AT&T Investigated (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39193045)

Barack Obama is a stuttering clusterfuck of a miserable failure.

No, no, no! Is he in charge of a [...] bank or credit card company?

Yes. He's also in charge of a car company. if he gets another four years, he'll be in charge of your company and your children's companies.

Re:AT&T Investigated (0, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39190911)

No, he's a stuttering clusterfuck of trying to negotiate with domestic terrorists (the GOP).

Re:AT&T Investigated (1)

masternerdguy (2468142) | more than 2 years ago | (#39190673)

ATT is hardly beyond redemption. The cable companies arent any better and the other alternatives are few and often expensive. ATT is one of the members of a corrupted industry.

Re:AT&T Investigated (4, Insightful)

EdIII (1114411) | more than 2 years ago | (#39191193)

They are beyond redemption, but not alone. It's good somebody is bringing that up.

*EVERY* carrier is fucking over the consumer with over sold bandwidth, unrealistic caps, and deceptive marketing practices.

It's more problematic with wireless carriers since they have real problems trying to over sell it because everyone is breaking down the door at the same time for the non-existent bandwidth.

Same thing has happened to Clear in more than a couple of markets. They overloaded their networks so badly their 4G operates no better than 3G.

I hope they destroy AT&T over this, and stick their head on a spike. Maybe put some fear into Verizon, T-Mobile, and Sprint from pulling the exact same crap.

Re:AT&T Investigated (2)

anubi (640541) | more than 2 years ago | (#39193445)

This has been an interesting topic... how should a carrier charge?

Internet access has been a pain-in-the-arse for me, too - where "advances" in technology gives webmasters opportunities to use more and more bloatware, which I must download in order to view often simple content.

Javascript is by far the most egregious, with flash running a close second. A couple of those on the page can cause me to download megabytes of unwanted crap while I am looking for a simple link to what I am looking for.

This really stymies my efforts to conserve bandwidth, as webmasters will use these wasteful technologies to deliver the wanted content. Like using javascript directors instead of a simple HTML link to force me into enabling javascript in order to use his site.

Let me relate something similar:

I was at a city council meeting discussing water rates in the city. I was opposed to the across-the-board increasing of all the connection fees and "meter charges", as I felt simply charging everyone more for access to water defeated the whole idea of metering water so that those who used the most water paid the most.

I try to conserve, I wash my car with a wet rag. Take short showers, even have one of those damned toilets that require five to six flushes to get the job done, etc, as my State government has been telling us we are running short of freshwater and the farmers need it. If that be the case, I would rather see the water on the crop, not in the gutter in front of my house.

Yet my neighbor wastes water, and I often see his water running down the gutter in front of my house. Automatic sprinklers, poorly aimed, and poorly timed.

I feel I am trying to live with the situation, and would rather see the cost borne by those using more of what appears to be a limited resource..

Which is exactly opposite to how I feel about being limited on internet access.

A lot has to do with my impression that internet bandwidth is not in short supply, as nothing I see limits it.

I can build bigger irrigation pipe, but if there is no water to put in it, what's the point?

There seems to be a infinite amount of binary info people want to exchange, so where is the pipe?

That's why I feel when I pay for internet access, I pay for pipe, not water ( content ).

I find myself becoming increasingly annoyed at the "service companies" as I would at a restaurant seeing my meal cooling on the counter while understaffed waitresses cannot get around to serving my dish.

Yet I see the restaurant does have the money to send executives to golf resorts.

While using "barriers to entry" to keep competitors from opening up a "roach coach" in front of their establishment and taking all their customers.

I was hoping Clear Communications would open up a big 4G wireless net and give AT&T, Warner, and Verizon a run.

Re:AT&T Investigated (0)

tripleevenfall (1990004) | more than 2 years ago | (#39190685)

I think we should investigate smartphone users who are still with AT&T. Those people should be in zoos.

Re:AT&T Investigated (1)

HuckleCom (690630) | more than 2 years ago | (#39190735)

Moo

Re:AT&T Investigated (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39190777)

It sucks when it's your only option. It's true, I can't get Verion where I live but for some reason I can get AT&T 3G.

Crap.

Re:AT&T Investigated (0)

lostmongoose (1094523) | more than 2 years ago | (#39190807)

I think all of their texts are being used to compose Shakespeare. You know, the whole "million monkeys" thing.

Re:AT&T Investigated (1)

peragrin (659227) | more than 2 years ago | (#39190845)

why AT&T provide more or less equally bad service at equally bad pricing, with coverage that is basically the same(shitty).

you go with a service that provides the best overall quality for the area you are in and know that another area it will be the opposite unless it is rural then they both suck.

Re:AT&T Investigated (1)

Firehed (942385) | more than 2 years ago | (#39191585)

What, and move to Sprint or Verizon who are both saints? Who are you trying to fool? While I by no means like AT&T, I a) still have my grandfathered unlimited data plan and would happily go to small claims court if it becomes an issue and b) can use data while on a call, which is impossible on CDMA networks.

Re:AT&T Investigated (1)

Idbar (1034346) | more than 2 years ago | (#39190993)

Ironically, they're going to be investigated because they're supposedly trying to offset the traffic load from heavy consuming adds to the developers instead of the customers.

While I see this may end up in double dipping and charging everyone twice "by mistake". It's weird they don't want to investigate ATT because of their caps and irrational plans (as most of the other carriers), but because they will be charging app development companies for abusing data from users that probably don't expect it.

Well, yeah... (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39190295)

" 'Apparently it has nothing to do with network management. It's a tool to get more revenue from developers and customers.'"

Well, yeah. And the customers buy it anyway. Darn that free market.

Re:Well, yeah... (4, Insightful)

DickBreath (207180) | more than 2 years ago | (#39190429)

Your free market remark is a red herring.

We are talking about government granted monopolies to public spectrum. There is a limited amount of spectrum. It's not infinite. Government manages it in the public interest. AT&T is granted a license to use some spectrum in the public interest. They cannot just do anything they want with it and charge anything they can manage to swindle customers out of.

If AT&T were charging for access to read their opinions, then that would be a free market. I could just say no and go away. I could go elsewhere and read someone else's opinions for less, or for free. The difference is that there is an extremely limited number of wireless operators that effectively collude on price. Therefore it is important to regulate AT&T and prevent them from charging arbitrarily high prices that are completely unrelated to the cost + reasonable profit of delivering those services.

My response to complaints about the regulation of public utilities is this: If AT&T doesn't like it, then they could just get out of the business and let someone else take over their license to that valuable public spectrum.

Re:Well, yeah... (1)

Richard_at_work (517087) | more than 2 years ago | (#39190583)

AT&T aren't granted a license, they are sold a license for hundreds of millions to billions of dollars at a time, which substantially changes the argument and can hardly be claimed to be "in the public interest" in the first place.

Re:Well, yeah... (2)

Jah-Wren Ryel (80510) | more than 2 years ago | (#39190665)

AT&T aren't granted a license, they are sold a license for hundreds of millions to billions of dollars at a time, which substantially changes the argument and can hardly be claimed to be "in the public interest" in the first place.

The two are not mutually exclusive. For example, one could argue that AT&T gets a substantial cash discount in exchange for being required to steward the spectrum in the public interest. That such stewardship is worth a cash discount of many billions of dollars. After all, where else is AT&T going to get spectrum from? They are buying it from a monopoly source so the price is whatever we say it is. And still they buy it from us, damn that free market.

Re:Well, yeah... (2)

sjames (1099) | more than 2 years ago | (#39190817)

No. The license they pay fore comes with a public interest cause attached. They knew that when they bid on it.

Re:Well, yeah... (1)

jd2112 (1535857) | more than 2 years ago | (#39191979)

No. The license they pay fore comes with a public interest cause attached. They knew that when they bid on it.

Shareholders are the public right?

Re:Well, yeah... (1)

sjames (1099) | more than 2 years ago | (#39192571)

They are a small fraction of the public. The rest is supposed to benefit as well.

Re:Well, yeah... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39190723)

Except it is still a free market:

You have Sprint, T-Mobile, and Verizon.

Followed by Metro PCS, Virgin and other bit players.

Re:Well, yeah... (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39191157)

Collusion a free market does not make.

Competition (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39191719)

Competition will solve that problem

Sincerely,

The Liberatarians

Re:Well, yeah... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39193151)

... the number of players involved isn't what makes a market a free market. More players helps, but..

Re:Well, yeah... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39191947)

"Darn that free market."

Well, yeah -- your free market is a monopoly. One where customers with sunk costs are not consulted, informed, or permitted consent to arbitrary policies set by AT&T.

In that kind of "free" market, the only one with any freedom is the monopolist. It may be "free", but it is not the *efficient* market idolized by libertarian idiots.

So now AT&T is saying it's NOT a capacity prob (5, Insightful)

DickBreath (207180) | more than 2 years ago | (#39190309)

So all the bandwidth everyone needs is actually there? The data caps were just a ruse to get more money for it.

Since people balked, even sued, AT&T now proposes that maybe developers could pay the difference.

That is telling. It means the bandwidth necessary for, say, Netflix never was a technical problem. It's just that AT&T looked at the fact that they are just a dumb pipe and AT&T wanted more money for valuable content traversing its network. It's the Net Neutrality problem all over again.

Re:So now AT&T is saying it's NOT a capacity p (3, Insightful)

nine-times (778537) | more than 2 years ago | (#39190767)

Ultimately it's just a method for AT&T to hide the fact that they're charging their customers by having someone else charge them instead. Because you know how this will work, right? AT&T will charge Netflix, and that will cause Netflix to increase their prices. You'll pay the price either way.

Re:So now AT&T is saying it's NOT a capacity p (3, Insightful)

HuckleCom (690630) | more than 2 years ago | (#39190787)

The beauty of this is like so:


1. User pays same amount for 'capped' bandwidth regardless
2. "Developer" pays for their bandwidth - even though it doesn't really line the pockets of the user with any savings
3. "Developer" passes buck to users with higher prices/more ads.


Wham-bam, thank you ma'am.

Re:So now AT&T is saying it's NOT a capacity p (1)

suutar (1860506) | more than 2 years ago | (#39191971)

and then AT&T can raise prices on the developer, who doesn't really have "switch carriers" as an option; all they can do then is drop the bandwidth back on the users, who won't be happy and won't (all) blame AT&T for it.

Re:So now AT&T is saying it's NOT a capacity p (1)

MobileTatsu-NJG (946591) | more than 2 years ago | (#39192341)

I've heard this explanation before, but one thing bothers me: Under the plan I read about, the customer would still get their gigs of data, it's just the sponsored content wouldn't be pulled from that allotment. So if Netflix paid the bill, for example, you could stream 10 gigs of Netflix and still have your 2 gigs left over for other services. The user wouldn't see a lower bill, but if they would see more data landing to their phone.

I still think it's a shitty idea, it's just the 'double dipping' argument I think is incorrect.

Re:So now AT&T is saying it's NOT a capacity p (1)

Renraku (518261) | more than 2 years ago | (#39194223)

You're cute. The whole reason AT&T gives for capping their bandwidth so low is that they have limited bandwidth on their towers (and backends for landlines). Charging developers isn't going to fix this..you really think they'd make it to where netflix or someone similar would have to pay for all the bandwidth you used? This would make the limited bandwidth situation worse and would drive away newcomers to the mobile app market.

No, more than likely what will happen is they'll charge the developer for the bandwidth their app used, charge the customer for the bandwidth they're using, and pocket the rest of the funds. Don't like it? You're banned from the AT&T mobile network.

Re:So now AT&T is saying it's NOT a capacity p (4, Interesting)

AcidPenguin9873 (911493) | more than 2 years ago | (#39191417)

While I tend to believe that this is AT&T being corporate money-grabbing assholes, I have to disagree on the inference you made, that "we will allow the apps on our network if devs pay for bandwidth" implies "there is no capacity problem".

Charging for something is a way for regulating demand for a scarce supply of something. It's literally Econ 101, supply and demand. AT&T has to charge someone for the capacity used, such that the rates charged for it will regulate it. If there's a capacity problem, the rates go up. When the rates go up, demand goes down, and the capacity eventually reaches equilibrium based on price. It's how any producer sets the price of something in limited supply and high demand.

If demand is high enough for a sustained amount of time, then it's in AT&T's best interest to expand the production capacity (i.e. increase bandwidth available on their network), thus raising the supply. The marginal price goes down, but they are selling more total bandwidth, so their total revenue goes up. If they don't expand in a timely manner, a competitor comes in with better service for the same price, and all AT&T's customers leave and join the competitor.

In any case, you need to attach a price to the thing in limited supply so that it self-regulates. If no one pays for it, that's when there's a capacity problem.

If you want to argue about AT&T selling unlimited data plans that aren't really unlimited, that's one thing. You can also argue that bandwidth is not a true "physical" resource that takes cost to produce; once a certain capacity is in place, you shouldn't charge for usage. You can also argue that spectrum itself is scarce and the government grants a monopoly to these few companies, so competition is limited or nonexistent, and so they should be regulated. These are all fair arguments. But the general inference of "devs pay for bandwidth" => "no capacity problem" is fallacious.

Re:So now AT&T is saying it's NOT a capacity p (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39192189)

>. If they don't expand in a timely manner, a competitor comes in with better service for the same price, and all AT&T's customers leave and join the competitor.

unfortunately, spectrum is a limited resource and as such there are limits on competition

Re:So now AT&T is saying it's NOT a capacity p (1)

AcidPenguin9873 (911493) | more than 2 years ago | (#39193451)

unfortunately, spectrum is a limited resource and as such there are limits on competition

You seem to have missed the following, which was in my original post:

You can also argue that spectrum itself is scarce and the government grants a monopoly to these few companies, so competition is limited or nonexistent, and so they should be regulated.

Re:So now AT&T is saying it's NOT a capacity p (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39192259)

I wouldn't have a problem with your mindless regurgitation of the tired assertion that, "Charging for something is a way for regulating demand for a scarce supply of something," if it was a hard good that was being sold. But you're talking about bandwidth that's sold on both the up and down side. Not to mention the fact that as a 'consumer' I have no control over the commercial side of the payload I'm required to download along with the 'content' I request.

The average webpage has mushroomed in size from 15k in 1985 to over a 1MB today, and I have no say in the matter other than the choice not to play.

AT&T on the other hand provides services to consumers and the purveyors. It's a stacked deck, and even though each state has an agency charged with scrutinizing the tariffs, I no one seems at all interested in what's best for the lowly consumer.

Econ 101 would also inform you that you don't want to kill the goose that lays the golden egg... oh no, that's a fairy tale... just like the one you're spouting.

Re:So now AT&T is saying it's NOT a capacity p (1)

AcidPenguin9873 (911493) | more than 2 years ago | (#39193443)

if it was a hard good that was being sold

You missed the part of my post where I said: "You can also argue that bandwidth is not a true "physical" resource that takes cost to produce; once a certain capacity is in place, you shouldn't charge for usage."

But you're talking about bandwidth that's sold on both the up and down side.

What are you talking about? AT&T is proposing to *not* charge on the download side, i.e. not count the bandwidth towards the download cap of the end user. Instead, they would charge for it on the upload side, to the service provider who is delivering the content. Sure, the service provider may pass that charge right along to you, but that's *still* only one charge for the bandwidth by my math.

Not to mention the fact that as a 'consumer' I have no control over the commercial side of the payload I'm required to download along with the 'content' I request.

This is a total strawman argument. Take a data plan that can handle streaming video (I don't know if there actually are any today, as this is the problem AT&T is trying to address here, but hypothetically speaking), and the ads or other junk that comes alongside it would be a tiny, tiny fraction of the overall bandwidth used.

Re:So now AT&T is saying it's NOT a capacity p (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39192333)

I have a stupid question. Would using the landline grid and implementing wifi on a municipal level (kinda like red light cameras) help pull some of the traffic off of the cellular networks. It seems like the one (landlines) are just sitting there while the other is supposedly at capacity.

It's never been about network performance (2)

trunicated (1272370) | more than 2 years ago | (#39190311)

If it had been, people would have noticed significant slowdown. I'm afraid that people confuse "spotty service in dense areas" and "too much bandwidth being used". They don't realize that in a lot of cases, they wouldn't be able to use their phone to talk when they're running into data problems. AT&T has been capitalizing on this, and making quite the pretty penny.

I don't know why anyone wouldn't expect this out of them. It's basically free money, and it panders to an uneducated user base through letting them think that they'll save money, and that they'll still be able to blame others when there's a problem.

Re:It's never been about network performance (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39190403)

they wouldn't be able to use their phone to talk when they're running into data problems.

And I think that's pretty sufficient proof you have no business offering your opinion on this matter.

Re:It's never been about network performance (1)

Grieviant (1598761) | more than 2 years ago | (#39191875)

Talking on your phone requires somewhere on the order of 10kbps. Internet browsing or watching garbage quality youtube videos requires 500kbps to 1Mbps. That factor of 100 difference in data rate translates to 20dB difference in SNR (all other things being equal), so you should almost always be able to talk. You're probably right that poor data service is a coverage issue rather than a spectrum congestion issue in many cases, though, and that's ATT's fault for not adding more towers.

Tethering (2)

ZildjianKX (872002) | more than 2 years ago | (#39190363)

I love how now that they have data caps, they STILL charge for tethering, even though they have no justification for doing so. I also love how if you put a smartphone on their network, they will add a data plan and charge you for it, even if you have data BLOCKED on your account.

Re:Tethering (4, Insightful)

dnahelicase (1594971) | more than 2 years ago | (#39190525)

I love how now that they have data caps, they STILL charge for tethering, even though they have no justification for doing so. I also love how if you put a smartphone on their network, they will add a data plan and charge you for it, even if you have data BLOCKED on your account.

I think that always proved the point this article is making. Once they came out with data caps, they should have made tethering free. It's not a case where you use more data because you tether something, just that you use it differently.

I've had numerous people ask me about getting a smartphone without a data plan, because they would be fine with only making calls/txts while out and about, but spend most of their time in the office/home/other wifi zones.

It's ridiculous that you can buy an iPad in wifi or wifi+3g, and data is optional, but you can't buy a "normal" phone with an ipod touch built in. There are plenty of people that would be fine only using wifi for everything besides calls and texts.

Re:Tethering (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39192747)

Wait, what?
You mean that you can't buy a smartphone in the US and have GPRS/EDGE/3G turned off on your account?
That's unbelievable to me.

Re:Tethering (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39193205)

nope, all the carriers I've ever dealt with (including AT&T) require 3G data plans for phones capable of them, and 4G data plans for those capable of 4G. In AT&T's case the cost of that data plan used to vary by the type of phone, smarter phones had more expensive data plans.

Re:Tethering (1)

kenshin33 (1694322) | more than 2 years ago | (#39193969)

if subsidized, I see why, although I don't agree. a normal contract on what ever service you want would be enough. but I don't see how they can/would force you into a contract. let alone with data, if you pay the phone up front or get it somewhere else.

Re:Tethering (1)

cbhacking (979169) | more than 2 years ago | (#39194267)

T-Mobile will allow you to use a smartphone without a data plan, so long as you buy the phone up front (or bring your own). They are, so far as I know, the only one of the 4 major carriers in the country that allow this.

I'm not sure why they get so little mention, here - easily the least "evil" of the major mobile operators in the USA, certainly compared to their direct competitor (AT&T - Sprint and Verizon use CDMA2000, not GSM/WCDMA) - but people make blanket statements about "the operators in the US" that apply to all of them except T-Mobile and completely fail to mention this. I get that their network coverage isn't as good as AT&T or Verizon, but it's good enough for the vast majority of the populace.

A few months ago, when it looked like they might get bought out... that wasn't such a good time to be a TMoUS customer. Now, with that plan firmly on the rocks and their parent company DT investing the compensation from the failed deal into expanding the network and upgrading the infrastructure, this is a potentially excellent time to be a customer.

realist (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39190409)

implying the fcc will do anything about it.

The only way that would happen in 'merka, would be for ATT to accidentally txt everyone a picture of a penis.

Re:realist (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39190841)

With all the geeks in here, surely we can make that happen...

Re:realist (1)

SuricouRaven (1897204) | more than 2 years ago | (#39191339)

I don't know about the US, but here in the UK all mobile internet providers are required to censor adult content from connections by default. If you want an unfiltered connection you need to get them to remove the filtering on your account, which requires jumping through a few hoops. The difficulty of the hoops varies by provider.

makes sense (0)

v1 (525388) | more than 2 years ago | (#39190479)

The app devs are using a finite resource on the device to do their thing, and some of them are making money off this bandwidth. Someone has to pay for this bandwidth. Either the user, the telco, or the dev. The telco has no reason to pay for it. So it's either the user (by eating into the data allotment) or directly billing the devs. This seems to make sense.

So for any given app you can either bill the dev a little bit, per installation or per use, or you can eat into the user's data plan. Either way the end users will be paying for it, either as a bigger data plan (or overages) or in a higher cost for the app up-front, or an increase in cost to the monthly/yearly/whatever the app dev may be charging for their service on top of the upfront cost of the program.

I don't see why people get so bent out of shape when someone tries to change which of their pockets the money is coming out of. They would probably prefer if the pocket is going to change, that it change to someone else's pocket. That's generally not how it works.

I think this is a good idea. For me at least, it makes it easier to understand where my "data money" is being spent - how much this new app really is costing me. Rather than a big number on my phone bill and me thinking "ok, which of the 10 apps I use a lot is responsible for this?" (or trying to figure out the complete breakdown, think a pie chart) this allows the users to see in clear terms what the real "total cost" of an app is, the cost of the app plus the cost of the data to use it. In the business world we call this Total Cost of Ownership [wikipedia.org] .

Re:makes sense (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39190551)

Holy corporate shill! The dev pays for bandwidth at their end (believe me my internet bill is real). The customer pays for it at their end (believe me their cell phone bill is real and huge).

Re:makes sense (4, Informative)

tkrotchko (124118) | more than 2 years ago | (#39190577)

"So for any given app you can either bill the dev a little bit, per installation or per use, or you can eat into the user's data plan."

The point is that AT&T said that the bandwidth was the scarce resource in their network and that caps were necessary to conserve that resource.

But as soon as a new revenue source was available, then the network was magically unconstrained. This is not "good idea", unless you're an AT&T shareholder, and then its magically a fantastic idea.

Re:makes sense (2)

s73v3r (963317) | more than 2 years ago | (#39190613)

Someone has to pay for this bandwidth.

The end user was already paying for it with the unlimited data plans. AT&T decided to be a greedy little bitch and end that. Now they want both the end user and the app developer to pay them money.

Re:makes sense (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39191307)

a) Suppose the developer pays the carrier and has to pass the cost on to the customer. How will the developer collect payment from the customer? Well, with iOS or Android, they bill through the official appstore/market -- those payments are subject to ~30% overhead. So now you pass that on the customer. At the end of the day, the customer pays the principal data-usage costs plus steep overhead. This increases cost without increasing value.

b) Most customers don't use their data quota. Most apps don't force users to go over their data quota. For typical usage profiles, there's no need for anyone to pay AT&T more than they pay today.

c) I agree that the current practices don't help users understand the connection between their apps and their total costs. This problem deserves some kind of solution, but there are better options, like some mix of:

b.1) Allow/require developers to publish a "data-usage profile"
b.2) Allow/require carriers to publish a "data-pricing profile"
b.3) When advertising/installing an app through an official appstore, display cost projections.
b.4) Inside each app, clearly communicate the data-usage requirements for various actions (e.g. in Netflix, show the size of each movie in MB -- and possibly convert to $ figure)
b.5) Include tools in the OS to track/display data-usage for each application.
b.6) Provide an automated system for collecting and sharing real-world data-usage stats for each application.

Re:makes sense (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39191415)

And one final point... as an app developer, you want to support users on all carriers. The proposal is AT&T specific. For app developers, that adds a lot of unnecessary administrative complexity.

It is much better to add data-usage tools to the OS or appstore -- tools which work with any combination of carriers, applications, or devices.

Re:makes sense (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39191817)

And another thing... the proposal tends toward eliminating price-competition for data-services. To see this, consider:

* If a consumer dislikes AT&T data pricing, then she can choose someone else (Verizon, Sprint,T-Mobile, etc). All of her contacts, apps, etc. can be transferred to a device on another carrier.
* If a developer dislikes AT&T data pricing, then he's stuck. It's not realistic for an (iOS/Android) developer to ignore customers on AT&T. Developers need their apps to work with all major carriers. Of course, developers can pass data-usage costs on to the consumer... but consumers will blame the developer for high prices when the culprit may actually be AT&T.

Re:makes sense (1)

Firehed (942385) | more than 2 years ago | (#39191743)

If cellular data wasn't billed at a minimum of two orders of magnitude higher than a standard connection, I could almost agree that there's a hint of something sensible in there. But the reality is the cell companies either have a local monopoly over service or are colluding to keep prices artificially high (remember how SMS rates climbed from 10c to 15c to 25c per message, and the change took effect on all major networks within a week or so of the initiator's announcement? also, remember how SMS costs cell companies literally nothing, since it sits in basically padded headers that would be going out regardless?)

I'm OK with companies charging for a valuable service. Cellular data service is valuable to me. I'm happy to pay for it. What I'm not OK with is artificially high prices, poor service, and unavoidable* one-sided contracts where the company isn't even holding up their end of the deal. If they even made an effort to improve their infrastructure to provide better service (more bandwidth to the towers) and alleviate the problems, I'd be understanding. But that's just not happening.

And for a stupid analogy - I don't expect Kraft to pay a piece of my water bill, despite the fact that I needed to use water to boil macaroni. You can bet they sure as hell wouldn't go for it, and I wouldn't do business with them if they did since they're just helping prop up an absurd system. I'll be boycotting any developers who buy into this bullshit, should it ever get that far.

* Ok, legally I don't need a cell phone. But legally I don't need any internet connection either; going without either is impractical in this day and age

Re:makes sense (1)

MobileTatsu-NJG (946591) | more than 2 years ago | (#39192381)

I don't see why people get so bent out of shape when someone tries to change which of their pockets the money is coming out of.

The people getting bent out of shape are the people who have an unlimited contract. Kind of an important detail in this topic.

Re:makes sense (1)

kenshin33 (1694322) | more than 2 years ago | (#39194179)

and there's the cost of doing business.
when someone "uses" bandwidth they can not go for more what they are allowed to. that is a bandwidth cap. Telcos are either lying or overselling said bandwidth. When you have a network that can serve at most X consumers at the same time, and allow access to 10X you run into problems for certain. Knowing that internet is more & more a central part of the daily life one should expect that 10X will be 100X shortly and add more capacity (which is one big shot $$$, but can be concidered a fixed non recurring cost for all intents & purposes, recouped with volume)
Oh, data on the other hand is not limited/scarce resource.

Re:makes sense (1)

kenshin33 (1694322) | more than 2 years ago | (#39194189)

I make money with a rented car, may be I should I call the dealer and offer him more money ...

Monopoly behaviour (3, Funny)

ackthpt (218170) | more than 2 years ago | (#39190483)

Break 'em up!

Oh, have we been here before?

Expected (1)

shoehornjob (1632387) | more than 2 years ago | (#39190497)

AT&T is run by a bunch of greedy bastards and to expect anything different is foolish. Seriously. The FCC needs to man up and put them in their place.

Re:Expected (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39190731)

FCC decision makers are largely ATT execs on sabbatical.

This is not the argument (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39190517)

AT&T says they want to control their network costs so they implement data caps. Charging extra to bypass these data caps doesn't say that the network doesn't suffer, it says they can use these extra funds to upgrade their network to support the extra data - the same way a user who pays for 5GB a month is charged less than a user who buys 10GB a month.

What this boils down to is a horrific violation of net neutrality, THAT should be the focus of the argument.

Re:This is not the argument (1)

WillgasM (1646719) | more than 2 years ago | (#39190871)

Why would they use the money to upgrade their network? If there's more data usage than their network can handle, it just means they aren't charging enough.

It takes a while for the obvious to sink in (5, Insightful)

tkrotchko (124118) | more than 2 years ago | (#39190537)

" 'Apparently it has nothing to do with network management. It's a tool to get more revenue from developers and customers.'"

To use a phrase, "Well, DUH!".

If you had looked in AT&T Wireless's annual reports for the past two years, they never indicated they were reaching any sort of limits on their network.

So either they were lying to their shareholders or to a gullible press and public.

Which is more likely?

Re:It takes a while for the obvious to sink in (1)

tisepti (1488837) | more than 2 years ago | (#39190631)

Is "both" an option?

Re:It takes a while for the obvious to sink in (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39191133)

No, this is not a false dichotomy. The grand parent pointed out that they have been implying to the public that they have to charge for excessive data usage because their network was strained, while their annual reports tell their shareholders otherwise. For obvious reasons, the network cant both be at peak capacity and not be at peak capacity, just like a car cannot both be out of gas and not out of gas.

I have a vague feeling I have been Wooshed.

Re:It takes a while for the obvious to sink in (1)

ThatsMyNick (2004126) | more than 2 years ago | (#39190703)

If you had looked in AT&T Wireless's annual reports for the past two years, they never indicated they were reaching any sort of limits on their network.

Duh, even if they were reaching the limits, they dont have to disclose it to their shareholders (well ethically they have to, but legally they can get away by not disclosing (if push came to shove, they could still claim they never knew and walk away scot-free)).

I guess the devil is in the details... (1)

fahrbot-bot (874524) | more than 2 years ago | (#39190691)

Telcos/ISPs are greedy and uncaring liars - film @ 11.

network neutrality killer ? (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39190797)

This is another kick in the balls of network neutrality. These people won't stop until they get anyone that touches a bit in transit to pay for the privilege. The end-user already pays. They wanted the source of the data to pay (despite that they pay for their connectivity). Now they want the provider of the app that receives data to pay. I wonder what other such innovations are waiting for us in the future.

what is wrong with this? (0)

itzdandy (183397) | more than 2 years ago | (#39190839)

What is wrong with this? AT&T (Verizon/Sprint/etc/etc) are running a business and have a significant investment in the hardware to provide the service. Cell towers cost big bucks, and upgrading cell towers costs big bucks. That money has to come from sales.

Here is a very simple metric to determine if the pricing model is fair and reasonable. Are people dumping their smart phones? Is another vendor reaching into the market with 'fair' prices?

Clearly the market can bear the cost. I would add that the US' cell phone providers are some of the least expensive in the world.

If there is a fraud here, it is the statement of 'unlimited' data plans with 5GB caps, though all the vendors have done away with that now.

Re:what is wrong with this? (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39190987)

So when are they returning all the public funds they used to build this infrastructure?(with appropriate interest)

Re:what is wrong with this? (2)

Microlith (54737) | more than 2 years ago | (#39191151)

Are people dumping their smart phones?

No, and they won't because they don't understand how they're being screwed. The vast majority believe their handset is actually free because they paid nothing for it while signing up for an expensive 2 year contract.

Is another vendor reaching into the market with 'fair' prices?

Nope. New carriers can't crop up due to spectrum constraints and all existing carriers match pricing and features extremely closely.

I would add that the US' cell phone providers are some of the least expensive in the world.

Bull. They're among the highest, coupled with ridiculous data rates and stupidly inflexible plans.

Re:what is wrong with this? (1)

itzdandy (183397) | more than 2 years ago | (#39191273)

[quote]No, and they won't because they don't understand how they're being screwed.[/quote]
hmmm, that doesn't really sound like they are being screwed.

[quote]New carriers can't crop up due to spectrum constraints and all existing carriers match pricing and features extremely closely[/quote]
This is only partially true, WiMax is/was seen as a viable alternative to LTE and it can run in spectrum that is available in most markets.

[quote]Bull. They're among the highest, coupled with ridiculous data rates and stupidly inflexible plans.[/quote]

uh, no. go to europe and find a comparable plan. even with the 'inflated' service rates to compensate for heavily subsidized phones US plans are cheaper.

Re:what is wrong with this? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39191539)

Greetings from Europe:
~14$ a month plan would give me: Free calls to others using the same operator, other calls within the country are fixed at ~14 cent for the first 2000 minutes, then it's 0.09 cents per minute, 4000 free SMS (beyond that it's 0.09 cent a piece) and gprs is 0.002 cent/kb. Adding a phone to the contract is another 4 to 28 dollars a month depending on 1) the cost of the phone 2) the length of your contract (ranging from 12 to 24 months).

Not that I use this specific plan, but it should be fairly normative for contracts in my country. So at least you got something tangible to compare to.

Re:what is wrong with this? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39191735)

clarification "~14 cent for the first 2000 minutes" means that there is a "connection fee" set at ~14 for each call during the first 2000 billable minutes, not 14 cent per minute.

While I'm at it I may add that the dataplan I actually use allows for 3GB data traffic at whatever speed my provider may muster - beyond that they may limit my speed to 32kb/s - there are no extra costs associated by surpassing this limit. and it costs me 9$ a month, which handily beats AT&T 3GB offer for 30$ if arstechnica is to be believed.

Re:what is wrong with this? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39192125)

No, and they won't because they don't understand how they're being screwed.

hmmm, that doesn't really sound like they are being screwed.

So if you sell a retard a $5 bill for $20, it's ok as long as he's not mentally capable of understanding that he's worse off afterwards?

Btw, the character you're looking for on your keyboard are the pointy ones like these: < >

Re:what is wrong with this? (1)

SageBrian (711125) | more than 2 years ago | (#39191287)

The simple metric is based on the people's knowledge and tolerance for beatings.
Thankfully, AT&T wasn't able to merge with T-Mobile, as T-Mobile is the only other big player in the GSM market.

What is going on now is nothing new. Think back (old-timers) to when we had to pay for EACH phone extension in the house! Same line, same amount of talking, but you were charged extra for what... the convenience of having an extension in another room? Monthly?

And then there was the old Touch Tone charge... yes, we had to pay extra if we wanted to use Touch Tone. Oh, wait, that was back when it was just ONE phone company. Then Bell was broken into many companies and we finally had competition.

Now, they are trying to force us to pay for each device, AND the amount of data. I'm all for data caps, but my SIM card should be used however I see fit, and the data used however I see fit.

Eventually, it will all come around to sensibility, after they have squeezed as much out of consumers as possible.

The only weapon we have is to ignore the 'free phone with contract' crap, and buy an unlocked phone (or used one). Then use a no-contract service that is priced fairly.

Re:what is wrong with this? (1)

MobileTatsu-NJG (946591) | more than 2 years ago | (#39192251)

What is wrong with this?

It's fraud.

They're just good ol' honest folk (1)

RobCull (1658279) | more than 2 years ago | (#39190875)

'Apparently it has nothing to do with network management. It's a tool to get more revenue from developers and customers.'

Cellular provider gouges customers and developers with data plan caps and pricing. News at 11.

Saw it coming (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39191029)

I switched from AT&T to Sprint a few months after they capped data, saw the writing on the wall and my contract had just ended. I also was forced to switch from my iPhone 3GS to a HTC Evo.

I haven't regretted either decision, although at the time I didn't really think that the phone would be as nice. Now, when I pick up someone else's iPhone, it's kind of like banging rocks together to do certain things, and I don't think I would ever go back. The market does work, sometimes. Genachowski and his ham-fisted FCC failed, but Sprint decided that they wanted to earn my business and they sure as hell did.

Primary Connection (1)

U8MyData (1281010) | more than 2 years ago | (#39191271)

Then there are people like me who actually went out bought a Wilson Amplifier and realized pretty good connections speeds compared to the lowely satellite alternative as I suffer to live in a quite, peaceful, rural area. My only problem is I get 2 GB monthly (Verizon) over my HTC Incredible and since the introduction of the iPhone (coincidentally?) have seen my 1.0+ mbps drop to about 512K (up and down). Still fast enough to work. But after watching just a handful of video (and all the freaking prefixed ads) I hit my cap really quickly. I guess I wouldn't mind paying more if I could use this like a good ole DSL circuit, use it without fear and freely. I am very frustrated with this and I just know, and it really does smell like, market manipulation and collusion between carriers. Telco's have ALWAYS been like that. You might think T-1's would be cheaper now that so many of the landline phones are wireless now and the dedicated copper to service them lies dormant. But T-1's have always had the something special tag to them and appear to still do. So frustrating to be in data jail. I still pay an arm and a leg for service and often stare at my phone thinking what am I getting for all this money other than frustration? Not sure about AT&T, but Verizon had 108+ million subscribers with an average cell phone bill around (excluding the never calcuable taxes, surcharges, and taking into account 60% cell and 40% smartphone) is about $80, that makes there revenue in one month 8.6 billion. Not too bad if you ask me. Why do they insist they are the victims when in fact, it is the consumer...

Not really (1)

slashmydots (2189826) | more than 2 years ago | (#39191275)

I do think AT&T is basically Satan but in this case, I don't see it. They're absolutely guaranteed with this system to get paid for bandwidth that gets used. So if your app uses X amount of data and they know how much data will be used so you as a developer pay per megabyte for example, AT&T is assuring themselves that they'll have the money to upgrade their infrastructure if the need arises due to more data because the money is there to cover it. When it comes to just phones, you don't know if the customer will use 50MB or 5000MB.
I think in general, if your customers are going to use X amount of data as a grand total-based average, build that much of an infrastructure and charge accordingly instead of convincing customers to use less data through stupid tactics.

Re:Not really (1)

kenshin33 (1694322) | more than 2 years ago | (#39194201)

... badwidth != data usage

Will Someone Think of the Developers! (5, Insightful)

robwgibbons (1455507) | more than 2 years ago | (#39191535)

At first glance, this seems like a good idea for the consumer, but for smaller, independent and boot-strapped developers (from whom most of the innovative products come) this is basically a nail in the coffin. The only reason the Internet is as innovative as it is now is because any Joe Schmoe with a great idea, some time on his hands and a deep willingness to learn can get his software into hands of millions of people and literally disrupt industries.

Allowing a company to pay for their users' data usage seems like a great idea for consumers, at least in terms of immediate monetary value. Google or Pandora can pay for my data usage and I can consume all I want.

The real problem is that this allows large, well-funded (and probably stagnant) software companies to completely crush smaller, less well-funded companies who have innovative or disruptive ideas. Who's to say You and I don't have a great idea together and want to compete with Pandora? Oh that's right, they have millions in investment capital and we only have time and development skills.

This is the same argument as allowing certain websites to pay extra for faster Internet speeds. Sounds like a great idea on paper, especially for consumers in the short-term, but in the long-term it will harm the entire industry in general by stifling creative innovators.

In the end, whoever has the most money wins.

Re:Will Someone Think of the Developers! (1)

robwgibbons (1455507) | more than 2 years ago | (#39191565)

Basically it's a "throw money at the pipes" competitive advantage

why not (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39192759)

get rid of the friggin caps and throttling and actually charge a reasonable rate for the speeds offered? all this complicated bullshit is just stupid and just adds its own costs to pass on to the customers. consumer isp should be nothing more than a big dumb pipe and priced as such.

This makes sense (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39193019)

The dev's are the only people that can control how much bandwidth is consumed. If they have to pay vs consumer, then the devs will consider what data is important instead of programming like bandwidth is unimportant.

PK? (1)

thelexx (237096) | more than 2 years ago | (#39193469)

To my old codger brain PK == Phil Katz.

You aren't forgotten Phil.

AT&T is limited by their spectrum, not bandwid (1)

chopsuei3 (517972) | more than 2 years ago | (#39194019)

Bandwidth is not the issue here people, AT&T is limited by the total spectrum they have available for wireless subscribers. As each device requires radio time on the network, there is essentially a limit to the total number of subscribers a tower and network can service. With iPhones and wireless users, it seems AT&T has opted to add a data cap to urge users to essentially use less "radio time." We have a number of M2M devices using the AT&T network around the US, although we use GPRS, not 3G. The situation for M2M is a bit different compared to consumer devices as these devices often use some "radio time" but send much less data, meaning AT&T gets less $$/subscriber. I've seen devices barred on AT&T and T-Mobile networks while in our home PLMN, which shouldn't happen aside from subscription issues or lack of GPRS resources on the network (i.e. too many subscribers on the tower). Most annoyingly though, AT&T has not fessed up to this...so I hope the investigation is successful and AT&T opens up the inner details of their network. I've also read about a setting called EONS (Enhanced Operator Name String) that forces devices to see both home and roaming network, whether or not AT&T owned, to be displayed as an "AT&T" network. This can fool some users into thinking they are NOT roaming, when in fact they are. Grrrrrr AT&T
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