Feeds

AT&T to choke your iPhone

Death to unlimited data plans

Beginner's guide to SSL certificates

AT&T has finally figured out how to fix its much-maligned US mobile data services: stop users from eating up so frickin' much bandwidth.

As reported by the Associated Press, president and CEO of AT&T Mobility Ralph de la "Darth" Vega told attendees at a New York investors' conference on Wednesday that his company plans to force data-plan subscribers to "reduce or modify their usage."

In Darth's world, consumers are dumb and selfish data-piggies. "We've got to get them to understand what represents a megabyte of data," he said.

We're not all sinners in his eyes, however: only three per cent of smartphone users eat up 40 per cent of AT&T's capacity, he said, adding that the hungriest online swine are concentrated in San Francisco and New York.

Hmm...The capital of tech-savvy Silicon Bay Area, and the center of US media. No worries about offending those constituencies, eh?

As part of his high-minded educational effort, AT&T's connectivity Cassandra pointed out that - whodathunkit? - video and audio streaming account for most of that bandwidth hogging. Note to Pandora, Last.fm, and Shoutcast, and oh-so-many others: Darth is planning to swing his bandwidth-slicing lightsaber directly at your revenue streams.

But the freewheeling, freeloading, free-bandwidth days are numbered. Although he didn't assign a date to when the data hammer will drop, Darth did say that bandwidth metering and usage-based pricing is inescapable.

Right now, however, AT&T doesn't make it easy - no, make that "possible" - for its subscribers to monitor their bandwidth suckage even if they do know what a megabyte is.

But that will soon change. "We're improving all our systems," said the Mobility man, "to let consumers get real-time information on their data usage."

AT&T has also launched another subscriber-based effort to improve its service - an iPhone app, Mark the Spot (App Store link), that allows disgruntled users to send reports directly to Big Phone when their service is spotty or nonexistent.

AT&T's service-quality iPhone app, Mark the Spot

AT&T calls their service-reporting iPhone app "Mark the Spot" - we call it "Tell Us How Badly We Suck"

Exactly how the free app is supposed to send a resounding FAIL to AT&T when the network is too clogged to be used is uncertain - although the app does include a map-based interface to pinpoint problem areas, then to complain as soon as you find a decent connection.

But perhaps we're being a bit too harsh on Darth and his crew. After all, Mark the Spot is at least an acknowledgement that AT&T's service is woeful. And the company has said that it's working to improve service in some selected cities - including our bandwidth hogging hometown of San Francisco. No hard news yet, however, on improvements in New York, where AT&T admits that up to one-third of all calls are likely to be dropped.

One thing is certain, however: don't expect bandwidth-hungry internet tethering to be available for your AT&T iPhone anytime soon. And odds are that when it does arrive, it will be neither free nor unlimited. ®

Secure remote control for conventional and virtual desktops

More from The Register

next story
Fujitsu CTO: We'll be 3D-printing tech execs in 15 years
Fleshy techie disses network neutrality, helmet-less motorcyclists
Space Commanders rebel as Elite:Dangerous kills offline mode
Frontier cops an epic kicking in its own forums ahead of December revival
Intel's LAME DUCK mobile chips gobbled by CASH COW
Chipzilla won't have money-losing mobe unit to kick about anymore
First in line to order a Nexus 6? AT&T has a BRICK for you
Black Screen of Death plagues early Google-mobe batch
Ford's B-Max: Fiesta-based runaround that goes THUNK
... when you close the slidey doors, that is ...
Disturbance in the force lets phones detect gestures with Wi-Fi
These are the movement detection devices you're looking for
prev story

Whitepapers

Choosing cloud Backup services
Demystify how you can address your data protection needs in your small- to medium-sized business and select the best online backup service to meet your needs.
A strategic approach to identity relationship management
ForgeRock commissioned Forrester to evaluate companies’ IAM practices and requirements when it comes to customer-facing scenarios versus employee-facing ones.
Go beyond APM with real-time IT operations analytics
How IT operations teams can harness the wealth of wire data already flowing through their environment for real-time operational intelligence.
The total economic impact of Druva inSync
Examining the ROI enterprises may realize by implementing inSync, as they look to improve backup and recovery of endpoint data in a cost-effective manner.
Reg Reader Research: SaaS based Email and Office Productivity Tools
Read this Reg reader report which provides advice and guidance for SMBs towards the use of SaaS based email and Office productivity tools.