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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. trialnterror's Avatar
      trialnterror -
      Ya know I was with cricket before I came to AT&T when the first iPhone came out n I have been with them since. I was paying 29.99 a month for unlimited minutes sms voicemail ..... I know pay 115 for the iPhone with 1500 min shared (750) 1500 text messages and unlimited data plus I pay 29.99 for the iPad a month! That's 145.00 dollars for cell service a month then I also pay 45 a month for Comcast cable Internet highspeed so 200.00 a month that's not pocket change! U know sure I'm a little lazy andvcould down load at night my podcasts ect but I bought theses plans specifically for the data plan! Man I'm so worked up tonight!!!
    1. Otherkid's Avatar
      Otherkid -
      LOL glad I'm not stuck with them anymore. I mean att pulls some ******** like this every year. Tmobile is more than friendly with everything especially prices. I pay 130.00 a month for 3 lines, 2 with unlimited 3g data and all three with texting and 1500 minutes a month. free nights and weekends and free mobile to mobile. I payed 130.00 a month for 1 iphone line 500 minutes or some ridiculously low amount unlimited texting and iphone data and "roll over minutes". And since i've switched. Never been happier. I just bought the new mytouch slide and it has to be one of the best phone's ive ever used. I've had all 3 Iphones and a mytouch 3g and a g1. I will keep this phone way longer. And flash is coming to Android within months.

      If anyone is interested in switching carriers and getting another type of phone. I would seriously recommend switching to Tmobile and trying the mytouch slide out. You can try it for 14 days and return it if you dont like the phone. Just sayin.
    1. staterunner180's Avatar
      staterunner180 -
      Verizon has unlimited data for $29.99 a month. Only the home internet (broadband) has a cap and that's 5GB monthly, but you go through 5GB quick on a desktop. And Verizon can tether, but there is a fee as with AT&T.
      Bottom line: Verizon has unlimited plans for the same price as AT&T's "bait and switch" plans, and Verizon also offers tethering. But the tethering has a fee, and 3G isn't as fast as AT&T's, while they do offer better 3G coverage.
    1. trent_behunin's Avatar
      trent_behunin -
      Ya it sounds to me like AT&T is looking to make some extra cash here. However if they offer rollover data it wouldn't be too bad.
    1. coolemt's Avatar
      coolemt -
      Quote Originally Posted by lili4311 View Post
      Me too, but I don't think I'll be renewing my plan anytime soon. Looks like I'll be stuck with the 3GS until another carrier has it
      It says for new AT&T customer only. You are not a new AT&T customer then you are fine. It does suck for the new AT&T customers though.
    1. darwina's Avatar
      darwina -
      Quote Originally Posted by szfebje View Post
      14GB is a light month for me, I'm rarely near wifi, and i'm constantly streaming media around the clock, be it music, videos, podcasts, I'm a heavy user using the iPhone to it's maximum capabilities, I've never gotten this kind of user experience from any carrier or phone, so I stand by it 100%.
      I guess this is a dumb question, but are you near an outlet all day? My phone hardly handles me checking my email throughout the 8 hour work day let alone checking email and making a call. I don't even get the chance to get that much usage out of it.
    1. ogdeity's Avatar
      ogdeity -
      I'm not a new to AT&T but I own a first gen iPhone and been out of contract since February. I want to upgrade to the new iPhone. Since I use the edge for unlimited data will the upgrade to the 3g data plan still be unlimited. If not I don't think I'm going to upgrade.
    1. Micara57's Avatar
      Micara57 -
      I've been very loyal to AT&T since the 90's, always shooting down everyone's complaints. But with this, I'm honestly considering leaving them.
    1. PM5K's Avatar
      PM5K -
      I'm unsure how to feel about this exactly, for some people it's a good thing and for others it isn't. I can say that AT&T didn't do this to make it easier for people to own a smartphone. If that's what they wanted to accomplish they could have added the 15.00/200MB plan and kept the 30.00/Unlimited. They could also drop the data plan requirement for smartphones. Make no mistake about this, this is so AT&T can make money AND lower usage.

      Having said that, to all of those that act like it's not a big deal there are a few things I can guarantee you: Data usage as a whole has gone up year over year for the past five years, and data usage will continue to go up year over year for the next five UNLESS the cellphone companies bend over backwards to keep that from happening, which at the same time would cripple the mobile market.

      Do you guys remember back when speed crippled the internet, and it took you five hours to download an MP3? Nowadays that won't be the issue, it will be usage, and what's the point of going fast if you can't really go anywhere? It's like having a Lamborghini in a town with roads that are all 100 feet long.

      And lastly a quote attributed to Bill Gates: "640K ought to be enough for anybody"

      I guess 200MB is also enough for anybody?
    1. reyg25atx's Avatar
      reyg25atx -
      My 2 cents.. The new iPhone will now support tethering (OS 4.0). The current iPhone data plan is $30.00 and is unlimited data but does not support tethering. Here is the reason why..AT&T's internal system have special Access Point Names (APN's) for their devices. Depending on what data plan you have determines your APN. Iphone data plans get ACDS APN (used for Visual voice mail) and a PHONE APN along with PDPWAP APN. All 3 must be in the system for the data on the iPhone to work. Blackberry devices get BLACKBERRY.NET APN and PDPWAP. All other smartphone devices get PDPWAP. Laptop connect cards and the Laptop data or Tethering plans get ISP.CINGULAR APN. IF that last APN is not in the system the device cannot tether. Now you maybe able to tether thru PDPWAP APN but AT&T system monitors this and will eventually stop the data from working while tethered but data will work while browsing from the mobile phone device. AT&T has the most smartphone users of all carriers combined.I Know that I am personally amazed their data service does not have more issues because they have almost double the data usage as all other US carriers. So here is my theory the new iPhone will be able to tether and will likely have iChat (we are not sure if that will be WiFi only or 3G as well) So given the fact how popular the iPhone as been and the fact there are iPads on AT&T as well add tethering and iChat and all the data other smartphone user consume and to me that spells data network disaster So what does AT&T do? They cleverly discourage you from using so much data and they give all new smartphone data plans free access to AT&T WiFi Hot spots with those plans as well.. They get you on the $15 200MB plan or on the $25 2GB plan and they know once you get close to going over you will not want to spend more money on data therefore encouraging you to use their WiFi hot spots and in turn saving AT&T bandwidth and network strain. Now only you can screw this up. Per AT&T site, New Smartphone Data Plans - Wireless from AT&T, existing customers with unlimited data plan for smartphone devices can keep the plan they have(grandfathered) even if you upgrade to a new smartphone you can keep your unlimited smartphone data plan . Only new users that activate on or after 6/7/2010 to a smartphone will be required to get the $15 200MB or $25 2GB data plans. OR if you decide you want to tether you will automatically be put on the $25 2GB data plan plus an extra $20 for the convenience or tethering your iPhone. Once you do that you cannot go back to your old unlimited smartphone data plan. I personally will not be changing to a new smartphone data plan BC my average monthly data used is a little over 2GB per month. That is my 2 cents and "That is all I have to say about that."
    1. eortizr's Avatar
      eortizr -
      who needs to pay for tethering were there is mywi?
    1. babyblue_pimp's Avatar
      babyblue_pimp -
      because mywi still uses the os's tethering... now since att offically supports tethering, there will be ways for them to tell if your tethering or not. and if you get caught you'll most likely be forced off the unlimited data plan for breaching the contract and onto a 2gb cap+ 20$'s a month
    1. chino54's Avatar
      chino54 -
      Well I don't stream pandora music but I do use the web alot and stream alot of you tube vids and I barely reach the 250 mb so I don't know about this on...
    1. dooge's Avatar
      dooge -
      My input as someone who was considering coming from tmo to att, this absolutely blows chunks. There's no way in hell that someone can limit their usage to their suggested caps. I, like some others on here, do not have available wifi all day.

      I've seen places where they've said this is to help with the limiting of data usage... How exactly is this going to help? Obviously the answer is: They're not going to be getting any more new customers for the iphone who would use it to its full potential.
    1. Bluprint's Avatar
      Bluprint -
      New Contract = New Plan. You can't be "grandfathered" unless you buy the new iPhone at full price, if you don't believe me then your in for a treat.
    1. Ethanolic's Avatar
      Ethanolic -
      Hell.. What's the point of mobility if I have to use the dam thing at home all the time.. 2Gb is not enough to do anything.. Skype on idle alone takes up to 1.3gb a month if I use it for voice replacement. Then there is tethering I can hack which will take more data..VNC, live TV, radio,.etc..
      AT&T is no dumbass.. They took advantage about the hype of the new iphone , their exclusivity, and the fact everyone depends on them that they can do anything they want. The fact that they want us to pay for tethering, when we could just use it for free because our phone is already capable of is stupid! Not to mention they want us to pay for GPS, when we can use it without data! And now this?? Limit our data? They want to limit our data so that we will keep depending on them for everything.. You see with unlimited data I can replace voice call with VOIP skype/google voice and talk unlimited.. And if they limit the data, skype won't be unlimited.. and who knows.. maybe one day they decided that it is our privileged to use skype to replace voice and decided to charge us extra for it...
    1. MikePA's Avatar
      MikePA -
      Quote Originally Posted by jabregousmc View Post
      2) but for those that actually USE THEIR IPHONE FOR WHAT IT WAS MADE FOR,
      So, if everyone doesn't use their iPhone the way you do, they're using their phone wrong. Talk about arrogant.
    1. rkswat's Avatar
      rkswat -
      Quote Originally Posted by Bluprint View Post
      New Contract = New Plan. You can't be "grandfathered" unless you buy the new iPhone at full price, if you don't believe me then your in for a treat.
      The treat is you really don't know what you're talking about! Of course you must know more than the many at&t representatives that have been called and told if you currently have an unlimited plan you can keep it. Funny also how I have had the same at&t plan, (one that's not even offered anymore) sense before the first iPhone. I have updated with each new iPhone and guess what? I have NEVER had to change that plan. So maybe you should educate yourself before you poo out your mouth again.

      Quote Originally Posted by Ethanolic View Post
      Hell.. What's the point of mobility if I have to use the dam thing at home all the time.. 2Gb is not enough to do anything.. Skype on idle alone takes up to 1.3gb a month if I use it for voice replacement. Then there is tethering I can hack which will take more data..VNC, live TV, radio,.etc..
      AT&T is no dumbass.. They took advantage about the hype of the new iphone , their exclusivity, and the fact everyone depends on them that they can do anything they want. The fact that they want us to pay for tethering, when we could just use it for free because our phone is already capable of is stupid! Not to mention they want us to pay for GPS, when we can use it without data! And now this?? Limit our data? They want to limit our data so that we will keep depending on them for everything.. You see with unlimited data I can replace voice call with VOIP skype/google voice and talk unlimited.. And if they limit the data, skype won't be unlimited.. and who knows.. maybe one day they decided that it is our privileged to use skype to replace voice and decided to charge us extra for it...
      What part of YOUR PLAN WONT CHANGE UNLESS YOU CHANGE IT is confusing to you?
    1. Happy Noodle Boy's Avatar
      Happy Noodle Boy -
      Unless you change your main plan (add a line, increase minutes) you will be able to keep your current unlimited data plan. If all you want to do is upgrade to the 4th generation iphone, at&t has already come out and said through multiple sources that you will not have to change to the new data plans.

      Starting june 7, here's all you need to know:

      1. New costumer? - new data plans
      2. Changing plan? - new data plans
      3. Current costumers upgrading just the phone? - keep on truckin with current plan
    1. gQstatus05's Avatar
      gQstatus05 -
      Lol.. I'm leaving today. Evo here I come. I'll send postcards.

      BTW I will log back in on and after June 7th to read the hilarious threads on: Help! They removed my grandfathered data plan!!