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  • AT&T Exec Suggests Penalties for High-Bandwidth Users


    The head of AT&T's wireless services division told investors today that smartphone users who consume more bandwidth than the carrier considers reasonable may end up paying more for it. Ralph de la Vega, the CEO of AT&T Mobility, also said in his speech to attendees of a UBS investors conference that his company intends to address the problems users have complained about in New York and San Francisco. "This is going to get fixed," de la Vega said. "In both of those markets, I am very confident that you're going to see significant progress."

    In his speech, de la Vega also promised that any changes in the carrier's pricing structure would respect net neutrality. He said future plans would depend on how well AT&T would be able to track real-time usage, and that pricing will be affected not just by regulation but by pressure from outside competitors and how customers react to changes.

    De la Vega again made the case that some level of control would be necessary because of the higher amounts of bandwidth used by smartphones such as the iPhone. He indicated that despite infrastructure improvements like the 850MHz 3G upgrades in San Francisco, the most demanding AT&T subscribers might have to make changes to their usage patterns or opay a penalty. He discussed incentives for customers to "reduce or modify their usage" like making it easier to determine how much data they use each month. "We've got to get them to understand what represents a megabyte of data," he said. "We're improving all our systems to let consumers get real-time information on their data usage."

    AT&T's has admitted in the past that it blocked specific iPhone apps because it considered them bandwidth hogs. As a result of such a heavy-handed approach, the FCC has been considering regulating cellphone traffic as it begins to set up net neutrality rules to ensure fair treatment for video, VoIP and other high-bandwidth data traffic.

    image via TechShout.com
    This article was originally published in forum thread: AT&T Exec Suggests Penalties for High-Bandwidth Users started by Paul Daniel Ash View original post
    Comments 96 Comments
    1. tudtran's Avatar
      tudtran -
      More reason to hate AT&T. If they charge me penalties, they will get sued.
    1. Megum07's Avatar
      Megum07 -
      i dont understand, other companies are just the same, its a cellphone network, its not meant to do things that you do at home with internet hooked up to a computer. when someone downloads gigs of data each month off a phone, it completely clogs up the system and slows **** down. att just happened to say something about it since they have the iphone, and a lot of this issue comes from the iphone, but every cellphone company is just as guilty.

      but as for the data package, its the same cost with all companies. and its REQUIRED by all of them too, $30 data package for verizon Blackberries, and $30 data package on sprints palm or whatever it is. to use a smart phone the data packages are $30 instead of the basic $10 dollar packages cause these phones just use that much more internet, they dont hook up to the patheic media mall or crap that each cell company has, they can stream full webpages and dl, so yeah...internets more.

      you people are funny, everyone complains about att, then other places complain about verizon, tmobile etc, no matter where you go, its going to be the same for this data package. a cellphone with internet, texting, unlimited calling and such is a luxury, not a necessity, you want cheap phone service go back to a landline.
    1. andygev35's Avatar
      andygev35 -
      My beef isn't so much with limiting bandwidth, however, I do take issue with penalizing someone who pays for an "unlimited" data plan for unreasonable data usage. It doesn't take a rocket scientist to figure out that if you offer and market an "unlimited" data plan, there will be users who will take that to mean there are no limits on their usage, and rightfully so.
    1. youngbrammer's Avatar
      youngbrammer -
      I never had a dropped call until I got my iPhone (was on AT&T prior to my iPhone too). I feel like there was a survey that said half of all smart phone cell data was from the iPhone and AT&T has 2x more smart phones than Verizon... Thanks %50 (iPhone) plus more than the rest (rest). A lot of data.

      I'm part of the reason AT&T's network sucks because the iPhone's internet is faster then my home internet, my school doesn't give us Wi-Fi and the house me and my friends hang at (go big HDTV) is still at 768 kb/s. I never use WiFi. Also, the iPhone is AT&T's only phone that requires data, no other phone does. All smart phones on AT&T require you to purchase data, but you can drop it immediately. Most other carriers require the data to stay with your phone all 24 months.

      Lastly, they can't change it on you during a 2-year contract; it'd have to be illegal. They don't change your minutes if the remove the pricing tier, you still keep it. Just don't modify your plan IF they do implement this. They should do different data price tiers though like in foreign countries.
    1. jsehlms's Avatar
      jsehlms -
      Quote Originally Posted by bunnywhi7e View Post
      Dude, STFU seriously. Go back and crawl under some rock or something. Almost everyone is pissed of at AT&T. There is a reason why AT&T is the worst rated company right now. I have about 20-30 dropped calls daily. Is this garbage worth $120 a month ? Is data plan worth $30 ??? worth my ***.

      I just got 12mbit with Comcast for 30 bucks a month. Laughable.

      And FYI. I won't be needing any 3G with T-Mo. Just a regular service. Could care less if I have 3G or not.

      So go and do your homework junior.
      Apparently online pissing matches are your thing, they're not "almost everyone's" thing, but almost everyone means everyone to you. I don't care if 'almost everyone' is pissed off at AT&T. The service I get (3g included) is far superior to any other cell carrier in my area. I've been on AT&T for 7+ years now, had Verizon, had Sprint, and am happy with the service. When I was out in S.F. I had maybe 1 or 2 dropped calls out of 60ish in the week or so I was out there. Oh well, its a dropped call. Hit call back and continue your conversation, no big deal.

      Is data worth $30/month, some say yes, some say no. I fail to understand why you're even commenting on this thread when you (and I quote) 'Could care less if I have 3G or not.' So if you could care less about 3G, why do you care about this topic. AT&T isn't going to limit bandwidth for those on EDGE. You can't possibly (ok, maybe you could, but who in their right mind would) download enough data on EDGE to justify an issue.

      Take your iphone, unlock it and go play on T-mobile. You won't get 3G, but you don't care about 3g, so your data connections will be slow, but I'm sure you won't be tethering your EDGE device causing their network to slow down.

      Yes AT&T has the worst rated customer service. Got it. I hate calling customer service. But that's not limited to AT&T. It's Dell, AT&T, Verizon, SBC, HP, (insert large corporation here), etc. They all suck to an extent. Verizon looks soo much better because they don't have the features AT&T does and until they do, they'll still look like cream puffs compared to AT&T.

      Now back to the topic, am I happy that AT&T wants to cap bandwidth on an 'unlimited' plan, absolutely not. But I'd like to know what they constitute as a large amount. Considering I use exchange push and frequently transfer docs back and forth will I be at that limit? At this point, no one (except AT&T) knows what that limit is.

      Now if they do impose a limit, you'll have a right to opt out of your current contract with no ETF if you do not like the terms as the new terms are different than the ones you agreed to. Will many people do that, probably, probably not. Only time will tell. If many people do jump ship, it'll only help those of us who use the data plans appropriately and will help all of us out. Would I like to see half of AT&Ts iphone users jump ship to another company? Of course. It just means better service for me. Verizon just wishes they could get the popularity of the iphone from their droid to fill up their network. Every person that joins is dollars in the pocket.
    1. TooSlo's Avatar
      TooSlo -
      Quote Originally Posted by youngbrammer View Post
      ...Lastly, they can't change it on you during a 2-year contract; it'd have to be illegal. They don't change your minutes if the remove the pricing tier, you still keep it. Just don't modify your plan IF they do implement this. They should do different data price tiers though like in foreign countries.
      You would be incorrect in the "illegal" bit. Changes to ToS can be made by the issuing company as long as all customers currently under those ToS are notified.

      At this time, the client then has the opportunity to legally end a contract, or continue service under that contract.
    1. jsehlms's Avatar
      jsehlms -
      Quote Originally Posted by youngbrammer View Post
      I never had a dropped call until I got my iPhone (was on AT&T prior to my iPhone too).
      Same here. Never had a dropped call on my WinMo phones, and only occasionally do I get dropped calls on my iphone. But the nice thing is I see those credits on the bill when the call drops.


      Quote Originally Posted by youngbrammer View Post
      All smart phones on AT&T require you to purchase data, but you can drop it immediately. Most other carriers require the data to stay with your phone all 24 months.
      Unfortunately, as of September of this year (I believe that's the date) data contracts cannot be canceled on smart phone contracts period.

      Probably because that was a great way to buy a new phone at a discount, keep your old phone and then eBay the new one for a huge profit.
    1. adp's Avatar
      adp -
      Quote Originally Posted by bunnywhi7e View Post
      Dude, STFU seriously. Go back and crawl under some rock or something. Almost everyone is pissed of at AT&T. There is a reason why AT&T is the worst rated company right now. I have about 20-30 dropped calls daily. Is this garbage worth $120 a month ? Is data plan worth $30 ??? worth my ***.

      I just got 12mbit with Comcast for 30 bucks a month. Laughable.

      And FYI. I won't be needing any 3G with T-Mo. Just a regular service. Could care less if I have 3G or not.

      So go and do your homework junior.
      Congrats on your switch to T-mo. I pay $50/month for unlimited everything. But I do have to correct you (and your counterpart). The T-mobile 3G frequency does NOT work with T-mobile, so you will only get EDGE - which is ok, but slow compared to AT&T 3G. Regardless, I'm paying a third of what AT&T bills cost! I'm happy with T-mo, which has good reception in metropolitan areas. Both carriers have bad coverage in some places, so there's no one that is more reliable than the other, IMO.
    1. politicalslug's Avatar
      politicalslug -
      Quote Originally Posted by bunnywhi7e View Post
      Dude, STFU seriously. Go back and crawl under some rock or something. Almost everyone is pissed of at AT&T. There is a reason why AT&T is the worst rated company right now. I have about 20-30 dropped calls daily. Is this garbage worth $120 a month ? Is data plan worth $30 ??? worth my ***.

      I just got 12mbit with Comcast for 30 bucks a month. Laughable.

      And FYI. I won't be needing any 3G with T-Mo. Just a regular service. Could care less if I have 3G or not.

      So go and do your homework junior.

      You crack me up. There is no way you have 20-30 dropped calls daily. Even with a 10% drop rate (which is REALLY high) you'd have to make 200-300 calls per day on your iPhone. Clearly you're full of crap. As to your other point, if you are willing to pay the $30 than indeed it is worth it to you, since you have the option of taking the data plan off your phone (but then you won't even get edge). Comparing a hardline broadband connection (Comcast) to bandwidth on a cellular network... you're joking, right? Lastly, no one, and I mean NO ONE wants to have lousy service and bandwidth so a handful of people can saturate the cell network with torrenting. Not even you.
    1. klouud's Avatar
      klouud -
      I love how they are using resources to bring "data usage stats" to customers but doing nothing about their 3G network load ability.

      True they have the fastest 3G network... but everyone else's can handle a larger load.

      Fix the problem AT&T and stock bending us over! You already get $30 per person for 3G access! Thats $60 added to my bill for 2 iPhones! That's more than some people pay for their entire cell bill!

      Beef up your data network or let the iPhone go to other networks! Sheesh... they want exclusivity but don't want to be responsible for the added data usage that comes with the iPhone.

      tim
    1. javiert30's Avatar
      javiert30 -
      If it happens, I will be ready to cancel my contract no matter how much I have to pay.
    1. ultimatexpka's Avatar
      ultimatexpka -
      att is epically failing, they have been pushing this too far, if they have penalties for high bandwith users like me, then i will quit and switch to tmobile, hopefully with 3g acess
    1. cbx133's Avatar
      cbx133 -
      Quote Originally Posted by ultimatexpka View Post
      att is epically failing, they have been pushing this too far, if they have penalties for high bandwith users like me, then i will quit and switch to tmobile, hopefully with 3g acess
      Well you wont have 3G with your iPhone. Maybe you will on your new mytouch 3G. :-)
    1. andygev35's Avatar
      andygev35 -
      ^^ you won't have 3G on T-Mo. Their 3G network uses a different frequency than AT&T.
    1. wiltok's Avatar
      wiltok -
      I don't think you will have to pay if you cancel:

      “Under (AT&T’s) terms of service, there are only two situations in which we would allow you to terminate your agreement because of a change in TOS without having to pay the ETF:
      If we increase the price of the service,
      Or if we materially decrease the geographical area in which your airtime rate applies.”

      AT&T Clarifies Position on ETF & Material Changes, Argues Only Two Situations Allow Terminating Contract | PhoneNews.com
    1. metaserph's Avatar
      metaserph -
      In a different thread it was mentioned that the current cap for "unlimited data" is around 5G/month and then beyond that an account is "flagged" for further observation. So rather than jumping the gun, all they are saying is that those who are currently exceeding such bandwidth will be penalized. If you cancel your internet access at home in favor of tethering your iPhone for everything, the money you "save" from home service will go towards the phone rates. Of course, those with "unlimited everything" don't really have "everything" to offer. This is all subjective. Check Verizon's rates, see how they really compare.
    1. javiert30's Avatar
      javiert30 -
      Good to know, your comment was very helpful in case that happens. I'm going to read more careful the terms of the service.
    1. sziklassy's Avatar
      sziklassy -
      Quote Originally Posted by confucious View Post
      So AT&T are finally realising what data providers in more mature markets realised years ago.
      Most people will get a better service if they stop the very few data hogs.
      But it won't stop everyone complaining....
      I agree to this statement. The problem is that we signed contracts that stated otherwise. In my opinion we should be given the chance to resign the "new" contract stating changed or be given the right to terminate the contract without a penalty fee. That said, I am sure the data usage numbers will be very reasonable, something in the 3-5GB per month range. If people are using more than that, they are probably doing things they technically shouldn't be (like tethering) on their phones.

      Quote Originally Posted by metaserph View Post
      In a different thread it was mentioned that the current cap for "unlimited data" is around 5G/month and then beyond that an account is "flagged" for further observation. So rather than jumping the gun, all they are saying is that those who are currently exceeding such bandwidth will be penalized. If you cancel your internet access at home in favor of tethering your iPhone for everything, the money you "save" from home service will go towards the phone rates. Of course, those with "unlimited everything" don't really have "everything" to offer. This is all subjective. Check Verizon's rates, see how they really compare.
      +1

      Unfortunately the average person who frequents sites like this doesn't think things through. They hear "ATT is taking something from you" and all they are able to do is post whiney comments on the thread.
    1. dunlapface's Avatar
      dunlapface -
      So, let me get this straight. AT&T is the worst carrier around, and instead of improving their service and putting up more towers, they are charging people more for an unlimited data plan. That is such BS, and if they do that I am not hesitating to go to Verizon where the Droid is voted a better phone now anyways.
    1. sziklassy's Avatar
      sziklassy -
      Quote Originally Posted by klouud View Post
      I love how they are using resources to bring "data usage stats" to customers but doing nothing about their 3G network load ability.

      True they have the fastest 3G network... but everyone else's can handle a larger load.

      Fix the problem AT&T and stock bending us over! You already get $30 per person for 3G access! Thats $60 added to my bill for 2 iPhones! That's more than some people pay for their entire cell bill!

      Beef up your data network or let the iPhone go to other networks! Sheesh... they want exclusivity but don't want to be responsible for the added data usage that comes with the iPhone.

      tim
      Do you have statistics showing that other networks are able to handle the data loads better? It is fact hat iphone users are the most data hungry users on the market almost worldwide. Show some numbers that ATTs competitors (lets say Verizon since it is widely viewed as number one) are able to do any better with their data loads. My bet is the bandwidth demand on all other networks is trumped by ATT.

      Quote Originally Posted by dunlapface View Post
      So, let me get this straight. AT&T is the worst carrier around, and instead of improving their service and putting up more towers, they are charging people more for an unlimited data plan. That is such BS, and if they do that I am not hesitating to go to Verizon where the Droid is voted a better phone now anyways.
      This statement is interesting, especially because Verizon puts you in the same boat. "Unlimited" isn;t truly unlimited with Verizon either..