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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. mikerlx's Avatar
      mikerlx -
      I will go to AT&T
    1. dunlapface's Avatar
      dunlapface -
      Switching to verizon asap.
    1. Poseidon79's Avatar
      Poseidon79 -
      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?
    1. Doran's Avatar
      Doran -
      Glad I'm Grandfathered in on this one.....
    1. domthebigbomb's Avatar
      domthebigbomb -
      man this sux
    1. lili4311's Avatar
      lili4311 -
      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
    1. vedavis's Avatar
      vedavis -
      Quote Originally Posted by Poseidon79 View Post
      ... but I have never really tracked how much data I use month to month.
      Use AT&T's website; a bar graph of the last six months exists, then figure out what you did during that month. Crude, but I was able to guesstimate. I know I won't be streaming Pandora over 3G anymore...
    1. nhstunner's Avatar
      nhstunner -
      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?
      You can log into your account on att.com & see a 6 month "window" of how much data you use. My last 2 months, for example, were 1.5GB & 1.6GB. This was BEFORE the purchase of my Slingbox this last friday....
    1. iLoveWindows&iPhone's Avatar
      iLoveWindows&iPhone -
      I just hope the "grandfather" sticks around for as long as I am with AT&T.
    1. nhstunner's Avatar
      nhstunner -
      Quote Originally Posted by iLoveWindows&iPhone View Post
      I just hope the "grandfather" sticks around for as long as I am with AT&T.
      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.
    1. gotjpeg's Avatar
      gotjpeg -
      what I feel sorry for is the new iphone or smart phone users adopting to this new plan, especially the new iphone users when the 4.0 comes out and they can now multitask running apps in the background and what not. Im gonna get a lot of angry calls wondering why they have so many overages and its because theyre running pandora in the background while they're surfing the net.
    1. Mastroz's Avatar
      Mastroz -
      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.
    1. inando77's Avatar
      inando77 -
      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
      you can upgrade to the new iPhone HD or upgrade your firmware on 3gs. As long as you have your current unlimited data plan you are grandfathered in, they can't make you switch to the new plan.
    1. Poseidon79's Avatar
      Poseidon79 -
      Looks like I'm way under what I thought.
    1. aimetti's Avatar
      aimetti -
      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
      its been stated that you can upgrade to a new iphone and keep your plan.
    1. mytran80's Avatar
      mytran80 -
      We live within a system where individuals just make too much money,and these individuals will continue to make more money if they can get away with it legally by there own terms . Relieving stress on the network is a great excuse for at&t no doubt its like bushes WMD in iraq " we must invade" even though his family is heavily linked to oil companies and Iraq has tons of oil but we can't just assume there capitalist motives .Capping data plans is the only logical choice in making more money for yourself and securing your corporate family
    1. Sigma4Life's Avatar
      Sigma4Life -
      I don't understand all the fuss. I'm a heavy iPhone user with Slingbox and I've never gone over 1.4 GB in a month. Most users are probably well under 1GB a month.

      I do think the tethering surcharge is greed though. As long as I stay under my 2GB limit it shouldn't matter if I'm using the data through my phone or my laptop.
    1. szfebje's Avatar
      szfebje -
      *3282# tap send...
      I'm at about 14GB for just this month... I will NOT be giving up my unlimited plan

    1. Poseidon79's Avatar
      Poseidon79 -
      Just out of curiosity.. what do you do on a daily basis to consume that much data?
    1. Magnum's Avatar
      Magnum -
      Or you can jus go to Settings>General>Usage...tells you right there...