AT&T to choke your iPhone
Death to unlimited data plans
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 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. ®
> there are may American websites where we can read things from an American viewpoint
Yeah, but they're nowhere near as fun. At least, not since Crazy Apple Rumors went on hiatus. Mind you, I don't disagree regarding returning to the Brit angle. If anything, this could make for snappier titles.
"AT&T to Yank on Yanks' iPhone Data Yokes."
It could even have the AT&T/Death Star image.
Impossible to monitor usage?
"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."
Ummmm, I supposed *DATA# just suddenly stopped working?
Next Bill Cycle: 12/26/2009
Data (MB): 479 of Unlimited
Messaging: 1365 of Unlimited
Granted, you cannot really dial that on a data card, but your account manager at wireless.att.com shows data usage, too. You know, AT&T has its faults, and this plan to screw data users over is a major fault, but is the AT&T bashing necessary?
Paris, the nexus of usage plans.
The counter's there and easy to find on my UK iPhone at least - Settings -> General -> Useage (it even separates out ordinary and "tethered" data).
I've recevied a meagre 549mb in the year or so I've had the phone, but then O2 data is laughably slow where I am (no 3G coverage or even EDGE whatsoever) and I use wifi wherever humanly possible.
network management reality
All UK mobile operators and unlimited ISPs should take note.
Technically there is no such thing as unlimited and the best way to control usage on your network is to charge for bandwidth and plough a portion of the revenue back into additional capacity/network upgrades not subject users to a dire service just to deliver on marketing messages.
Let's get real
Just because you don't like it doesn't make it unfair. I agree that ISPs (wired or wireless) should not be allowed to advertise a service in a misleading way, describing it as 'unlimited' when it really isn't.
But what we have seen on 'unlimited' services is precisely this pattern - where a small number (3%) of users account for a lot (40%) of usage. If you're determined to provide unlimited capacity you will eventually need to upgrade your network, but that's going to increase your costs and require you to increase your prices. Why is it 'fair' to punish the 97% who behave reasonably in order to enable the 3% to enjoy 'unlimited' network capacity (which they will soon exhaust by increasing their usage even further).