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  • New AT&T Plans Called "Bait-and-Switch"

    Reactions throughout the industry to AT&T's new data plans have been almost uniformly negative, with many commenters describing the change with the same term, calling it a "bait-and-switch." The expression generally refers to the practice of luring someone in with a certain promise, only to change it after a commitment has already been made. Proving that this was the carrier's intention is close to impossible, of course, but a patently untrue statement made by a senior AT&T executive is casting serious doubt on the stated rationale behind the move.

    GigaOm's Stacey Higginbotham gave what could reasonably be described as a softball interview with AT&T's "senior VP of data and voice products, mobility and consumer products" (how big is this guy's business card?) Mark Collins. She asked all good questions, but didn't follow up on any of them, including when Collins tripped himself up on his own talking points. Higginbotham asked "What about the $20 tethering fee? It looks like a convenience charge." She had it correct; in her own analysis of the new plans, Higginbotham herself noted that "the $20 fee for tethering is simply paying AT&T for the privilege of using your phone to connect your laptop to the web." Collins replied that "you’re going to use more data so the price is based on the value that will be delivered." John Gruber properly called BS on the "you're going to use more data" part, saying "You’re using the same amount of data but in a different way... if you go over your cap, you’ll be charged the $10 overage fee for each additional gigabyte." Gruber concludes forcefully that "there is no excuse for this $20 tethering charge other than greed."

    Computerworld's Mitch Wagner puts the pieces together, showing how the way AT&T is moving users to tethering will likely create much higher demand for data, leading to tidy overage charges for the carrier. For example, users will be more likely to take advantage of things like streaming video using their laptops as opposed to their iPhone screens. And since AT&T will only tether iPhone OS 4 devices, multitasking support will allow users to do things they're currently unable to do, like streaming Pandora music while browsing, that will also quickly push users to their 2GB cap.

    AT&T's rationale has been that they are providing "incentives" to reduce use. There seems to be little of that here, but plenty of opportunities to soak customers who have come to expect unlimited data.
    This article was originally published in forum thread: New AT&T Plans Called "Bait-and-Switch" started by Paul Daniel Ash View original post
    Comments 172 Comments
    1. Poseidon79's Avatar
      Poseidon79 -
      This is a pretty cool little tool.

      Data Calculator
      Looks like if you stream music for 2 hours per day you'll be getting close to your cap. 35 mins of streaming video per day = 2GB per this calculator.
    1. szfebje's Avatar
      szfebje -
      I stream pandora 8 hours a night 7 days a week, iheartradio 4 hours a day 5 days a week, streaming vids amongst other things
    1. JayWheelz's Avatar
      JayWheelz -
      Quote Originally Posted by Poseidon79 View Post
      This is a pretty cool little tool.

      Data Calculator
      Looks like if you stream music for 2 hours per day you'll be getting close to your cap. 35 mins of streaming video per day = 2GB per this calculator.
      Nice post. I use my Iphone everyday all day and my average since the 3G is only 130 megs lol. My wife used more than me the last 3 months. She's up to 759 megs.
    1. kadinh's Avatar
      kadinh -
      Quote Originally Posted by Poseidon79 View Post
      Just out of curiosity.. what do you do on a daily basis to consume that much data?

      i looked yesterday and i used 186 MB in the 1st 2 days of my billing cycle. i stream slacker and pandora, but i didnt on those 2 days....

      i personally was pissed when i heard this news. i agree that AT&T is just greedy and shafting the iphone users.
    1. CMOSlabs's Avatar
      CMOSlabs -
      Grandfathered in. Wonder what happens after the 4g upgrade though.
      I don't have a data plan. Not even txt. All though .20 a message gets old.

      Do all of my internet stuff on wifi. free voip, free txt. etc

      Why would you stream data? Radio ? Movies ? YouTube ? Video Chat? ok, only if shes topless

      I have all my music, videos, Pics, on my 16gs of storage. Which I change/update now and then. Would add more movies I guess if I had the 32gb. Why pay for data when you can get it for free most of the time? Already pay Comcast for internet, that's enough for me.
    1. Plotkin35's Avatar
      Plotkin35 -
      Since I'm grandfathered in, I will get the new phone on 7/15 when I'm able to upgrade. But I'm always over 1 GB, but much closer to 1.5. I should stop streaming MLB.com audio and video, Sirius is the only radio app I stream. But MLB over 3G is what's hogging it all now. Hardly ever use Sirius app on my phone.

    1. cricketlang's Avatar
      cricketlang -
      To be honest the only thing I'm worried about is video chat. We can already see that with just taking vids on the iPhone we get high into the mb's. If we are video chatting in HD, how is this going to play out? Being. In a long distance relationship I believe a concern is justified.
    1. Magnum's Avatar
      Magnum -
      Cicketlang has a good point, we are gonna gets raped in the @5s video call wise...Funny how will all have video call ability but will be too afraid to use it
    1. nyrajputz's Avatar
      nyrajputz -
      where exactly is that bar graph? i cant find it. i am logged into my att account.
    1. chuckiecheese's Avatar
      chuckiecheese -
      So does this move let us get out of our 2 year contracts with AT&T?
    1. wolverinemarky's Avatar
      wolverinemarky -
      i guess im not as big a power user as i thought max i used was 404mb of data in a month. but still keeping my grandfathered unlimited data plan when i get the next gen iPhone because i just might want to stream pandora and do all that other stuff like tether my laptop with pdanet
    1. nyrajputz's Avatar
      nyrajputz -
      i thought unlimited data was 5 GB a month?
    1. iamthekiller's Avatar
      iamthekiller -
      The new prices will actually save me $5/month as I don't ever go over 2GB. To people threatening to go to another provider... seeya, data hogs!
    1. KingCane's Avatar
      KingCane -
      I've really overdone it. LMAO. I think it's people like me that have messed it up for the rest of you.

      I've used 17.5 GB recently a month.
    1. Fallguy's Avatar
      Fallguy -
      Quote Originally Posted by Poseidon79 View Post
      I would consider myself a heavy iPhone user but I have never really tracked how much data I use month to month. I'm curious how many hours of music/video streaming equate to 2GB... anyone have the math?
      AT&T says its 2gb per month plan will be more than enough for the vast majority of customers. According to the company, here's how much you could do with that capacity ............

      Send 104,847 text e-mails

      View 11,650 websites

      Send 5991 emails with photo attachments

      Downlaod 512 apps , games, or songs

      Listen to 70 hours of streaming music

      Watch 17 hours of standard quality YouTube videos.

      I think these would be individual things and not collectively.
      Hope this helps some people .
    1. ripped53's Avatar
      ripped53 -
      Wow over 590MB and I'm only 11 days into my billing cycle, in May I was at 2.2GB, and April when I first got my iPad 1.4GB. (using MyWi with my ipad all day at work really eats that data up) Since Christmas I've been below 1GB. But over Christmas holidays at my parents house I discovered UWatch and used 5.9GB. I'm surprised they didn't send the usage police after me. Ha.
    1. rickybobby's Avatar
      rickybobby -
      Quote Originally Posted by szfebje View Post
      *3282# tap send...
      I'm at about 14gb for just this month... I will not be giving up my unlimited plan

      how the hell do you use 14gb a month
    1. ctrobins's Avatar
      ctrobins -
      My wife and I are 2 more users that are WAY UNDER 200MB per month. I expect there are many users like us who are also below 200mb... so for all of us the new policy is EXCELLENT!!! (i.e. it is NOT universally agreed that this new policy is Bait-n-switch)
    1. Fallguy's Avatar
      Fallguy -
      I wonder how much use Video Skype calls will get if people only get the 200 mb plan?
    1. nrowensby's Avatar
      nrowensby -
      I don't understand the complaints... If you are one of the people who have gotten use to unlimited data, then you can keep it. This only affects new users. I could see people getting pissed if they changed all our unlimited plans to 2GB plans, but they aren't.