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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. wookiee2cu's Avatar
      wookiee2cu -
      So video chatting over ATT 3G? Not gonna happen
      So what is the front facing camera for?
    1. camperchuck's Avatar
      camperchuck -
      the speculation is that video chat will only be over WiFi.


      Quote Originally Posted by wookiee2cu View Post
      So what is the front facing camera for?
    1. headcheese's Avatar
      headcheese -
      For everyone asking if you change your plan will it change your unlimited status-you've already answered your question.

      And I have a bridge to sell you
    1. Cokeman's Avatar
      Cokeman -
      200mb smartphone data plan for 15.00 a month.
      250mb iPad data plan for 15.00 a month.

      Why? Is the data used by a smartphone more expensive than the ipad data? If these are the correct amounts and prices, screw AT&T. I'll keep my unlimited plan and use the hell out of it.

      Wonder why they don't offer a rollover data plan?
    1. southfrisco's Avatar
      southfrisco -
      Quote Originally Posted by wookiee2cu View Post
      So what is the front facing camera for?
      Smaller lens than on the back (of the iPhone 4G) means it will be of poorer quality and not HD in any way. Apple is thinking of world wide carriers. All the features on the iPhone are not put there for ATT (it is a world phone now).

      Tethering happened in OS 3 back in 2009. World wide carriers embraced it, ATT is just now allowing it for OS 4. What makes you think ATT will at all allow video chat over 3G when a small carrier like Sprint won't even allow it with the Evo. Sprint has stated the Evo front facing chat camera will only work on their faster 4G network. No reason to think ATT won't be in the same thought process since the ATT 3G network is already bogged down as it is. HD video chat would just kill ATT. Other world wide carriers might be able to handle it but not here in America, on ATT.
    1. clarky8's Avatar
      clarky8 -
      Im grandfathered in but I might switch to a cheaper plan cause i have never used 2 GB in a months time
    1. akosko01's Avatar
      akosko01 -
      Everybody is overreacting about this whole thing. Less than 1 % of current iphone users use 2 gigs of data. that means that 99 % of at&t's iphone customers can actually save $5/month. almost 85% of iphone customers use less than 200 mbs/month which saves them $15/month. The tethering plan is an extra $20/month. that is $10 CHEAPER than it always has been for pda's.
    1. clikzip's Avatar
      clikzip -
      Quote Originally Posted by Poseidon79 View Post
      Looks like I'm way under what I thought.
      Im the same, most of the time i use my phone except in the car im on WIFI. I rarely tether..
    1. cmwade77's Avatar
      cmwade77 -
      Quote Originally Posted by nhstunner View Post
      It will last as long as your contract does. But I do hope you were planning on skipping the new iPhone, getting it will create a new 2 year agreement & you will lose your "unlimited". I had planned on getting the new iPhone (as I am up for a new phone 6.29) but will now skip, rather have my unlimited until Feb.
      This is not true, AT&T has stated that you can upgrade to the new phone AND keep your unlimited data plan, the unlimited data plan does not expire with your contract either.
    1. HCWHunter's Avatar
      HCWHunter -
      Quote Originally Posted by Mastroz View Post
      I used about 188mb in about 3-1/2 hrs time. Thats using xmradio application thats from the app store. If i'd do that daily just working 5 days a week and only 3-1/2 hrs. so 25X188 = 4700mb thats just using that app and i checked my email only a couple times. thats stupid. And i usually do listen to xm radio 5 times a week for more then that amount of hours. They really need to figure this out. It's not like I can choose the bit rate for streaming or anything. I think they want to make people pay more because they are getting a faster network and people will eat up the mb's alot faster too. I think 5 gb is alot more realistic then maybe a fee afterward or it should be unlimited. Its stupid how all these carriers want to keep charging more and more. It's gonna cost you more for internet, then my own voice plan. mine is $40 voice. internet and unlimited txt and multimedia are $50. How is that justified? Apples itunes higher bit downloaded songs that yuo can buy on the iphone are 8+mb each now. 2gb per month only accounts to 66mb's a day! thats nothing! They really need to get more bandwidth or something. Let me know what you all think.


      I guess I don't understand why you have to stream for that long on 3G instead of wifi? Likewise downloading files, apps, or music. Better to do that stuff on wifi.

      HW
    1. Truckerbear's Avatar
      Truckerbear -
      I used 12 GB on my iPhone last month and 32 GB on my Droid. I tether both iPhone and Droid depending on coverage.

      I won't be changing my plan or adding tethering.
    1. akosko01's Avatar
      akosko01 -
      Quote Originally Posted by southfrisco View Post
      Smaller lens than on the back (of the iPhone 4G) means it will be of poorer quality and not HD in any way. Apple is thinking of world wide carriers. All the features on the iPhone are not put there for ATT (it is a world phone now).

      Tethering happened in OS 3 back in 2009. World wide carriers embraced it, ATT is just now allowing it for OS 4. What makes you think ATT will at all allow video chat over 3G when a small carrier like Sprint won't even allow it with the Evo. Sprint has stated the Evo front facing chat camera will only work on their faster 4G network. No reason to think ATT won't be in the same thought process since the ATT 3G network is already bogged down as it is. HD video chat would just kill ATT. Other world wide carriers might be able to handle it but not here in America, on ATT.
      I love how everybody talks about at&t's network like it sucks. check these out.

      AT&T Roars Back in PCWorld?s Second 3G Wireless Performance Test - PCWorld
      The Fastest Mobile Networks 2010 - The Fastest Mobile Networks | PCMag.com

      2 completely separate and completely unbiased tests that show at&t's network is the fastest out there. and this is WITH the worlds biggest bandwidth hog on it.
    1. chrisrotolo's Avatar
      chrisrotolo -
      I thought I saw in another post we can upgrage 'iPhones' and keep unlimited?
    1. sziklassy's Avatar
      sziklassy -
      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?
      I have no math, but the first month we had 3G I heavily tested internet radio over the connection. I had various apps (names wunderradio) running 9-10 hours a day for 20 days or so and racked up 3.2 gigs off of that.
    1. k.nitsua's Avatar
      k.nitsua -
      Quote Originally Posted by nhstunner View Post
      It will last as long as your contract does. But I do hope you were planning on skipping the new iPhone, getting it will create a new 2 year agreement & you will lose your "unlimited". I had planned on getting the new iPhone (as I am up for a new phone 6.29) but will now skip, rather have my unlimited until Feb.
      Quote Originally Posted by southfrisco View Post
      HD video on the next iPhone? Uh not for the front facing cam...HD video for the Evo is only allowed on Sprint 4G (not 3G) and the Qik software that allows you to video chat also costs a monthly fee. So video chatting over ATT 3G? Not gonna happen especially in HD.

      Now back to the ATT plan changes, I don't see what the big deal is with all of you that are pissed about this. Am I missing something? This isn't a bait and switch when it ONLY APPLIES TO NEW SUBSCRIBERS. CURRENT SUBSCRIBERS HAVE THE OPTION TO STICK WITH UNLIMITED OR CHANGE.

      Current subscribers can keep unlimited (5 GB cap) for $30/mo but get no tethering.

      New subscribers won't have the unlimited option and they have to choose $15/mo for 200 MB or $25/mo for 2GB. The overage charges are a lump sum. $15 for up to 200MB over or $10 for up to 2GB over. Also if you want to tether so be it but you will pay $20 extra a month. You can also change from the 200MB to 2GB plan in contract and not affect the contract length. ATT is even letting you change the data plans on demand, pro rate or future date the changes. And they come with free text warnings when you hit 65% and 95% (I think a few more but can't remember) of your allowed cap.

      That seems much better than current capped data plans that get you for $0.05 to $0.10 a MB overage! So I look at it like ATT is not nickel and diming you now at least for data. If you use 2.5 GB of data then you pay $10 extra for the overage. One lump sum. No per MB charge.

      Old way = $25/mo for 2GB + $0.10MB overage. Use 4GB for the month and pay $25 + $200 in overage fees.

      New way = $25/mo for 2GB + $10 overage. Use about 4GB for the month and pay $25 + $10 in overage fees.

      New way seems much better to me.
      I was looking for the thread to see if someone made this point and you have, thank you.

      The new plan is WAY better and will help a lot of users struggling to afford the iPhone data plans.

      I'm a heavy iPhone user and I usually end up using only 1.2-1.5 gb per month.... some months I use less than 0.5.

      If I were to get this new data plan, I would only be spending 25 USD a month as opposed to 30 USD. 5 USD doesn't seem like a lot, but consider that I have 3 iPhones on my plan already. That's 15 USD a month, thats 180 USD a year. Some months I may go over 2 gb... but that will only charge me 10 USD more instead of the ridiculous data overages they have now, and I only suspect that I'll go over 2-3 months out of the year... that's still saving money though.

      I plan on changing two of my iPhones to the new data plan. One I'll keep for the 5gb cap to MyWi tether to an iPad when I finally get one. KNOWING that I'll be one of the few with an unlimited data plan will make sure that I use it in that sense; however, if my trends are still well below 2 gb, then I'll change the plan to the new ones - it's only smart.

      And for the last time, CURRENT UNLIMITED DATA USERS CAN KEEP THEIR PLANS EVEN AFTER THEY UPGRADE TO THE iPHONE HD!!!!

      These plans also help with my netbook plans as well.
    1. pyrotek's Avatar
      pyrotek -
      3 days into the month.. already used 190MB of 3G data.
    1. sziklassy's Avatar
      sziklassy -
      I am confused now (along with a handful of others). So does "grandfathered" stats end if you upgrade the line at any time? It sounds now like people are thinking this isn't permanent for the line/account but only for the length of the contract?

      Quote Originally Posted by dmorales View Post
      My wife and i share plans are these limits going to be per phone or for both phones together
      Data is not shared *even now). It is always per line (unless they change something, which I doubt)
    1. nebo1ss's Avatar
      nebo1ss -
      I think ATT has the right idea with the dual plans but have the numbers wrong. I think $15 for 1 Gig and $25 for 3 gig would be reasonable. 200 Meg of data is nothing and people are going to get a lot of overage charges. I recently traveled to London with my Laptop and got an O2 3G mobile dongle on pay as you go. You buy 3g of data which last 30 days for Sterling 15 which is about $22. I had an application to monitor my data use and after three days I switched off video on Skype and stopped all Podcast from downloading on itunes and stopped watching all video on news feeds like CNN and still used 2.9 Gig by the time I left after 25 days. This was mostly Email and web Browsing no video streaming no radio streaming. I did use it for my iphone as well since i was able to set up a WIFI network on the MAC to share the O2 3G connection.
    1. sziklassy's Avatar
      sziklassy -
      Quote Originally Posted by nebo1ss View Post
      I think ATT has the right idea with the dual plans but have the numbers wrong. I think $15 for 1 Gig and $25 for 3 gig would be reasonable. 200 Meg of data is nothing and people are going to get a lot of overage charges. I recently traveled to London with my Laptop and got an O2 3G mobile dongle on pay as you go. You buy 3g of data which last 30 days for Sterling 15 which is about $22. I had an application to monitor my data use and after three days I switched off video on Skype and stopped all Podcast from downloading on itunes and stopped watching all video on news feeds like CNN and still used 2.9 Gig by the time I left after 25 days. This was mostly Email and web Browsing no video streaming no radio streaming. I did use it for my iphone as well since i was able to set up a WIFI network on the MAC to share the O2 3G connection.
      200 megs is about on par with comparable "email" plans. I am sure that is where they are going with this, for those who only download textual emails
    1. Cer0's Avatar
      Cer0 -
      I think the "grandfathered" will last till you change your data plan. Say you go to a lower step. The min you do that then you are out. I had a great minutes plan that i had for years and kept being able to renew that contract. But I lost it the moment I had to add another line. Because I had to get more minutes. So I will never be able to go back to the great plan I had. So I would think they will work the same way.