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AT&T to restrict cell phone data use

Posted at 09 December 2009 22:49 CEST by Jared Newman

The days of unlimited iPhone and Blackberry data use are coming to an end, as AT&T says it’s looking to crack down on bandwidth hogs.

AT&T Consumer Markets chief executive Ralph de la Vega was cryptic about how the carrier will restrict heavy data users, but told investors at a UBS conference in New York that some sort of usage-based pricing is on the way, the AP reports. He noted that three percent of smartphone users take up 40 percent of network capacity, mostly because of streaming audio and video. There may be incentives for bandwidth hogs to limit their data, but de la Vega gave no sense of whether those incentives are actually savings or fewer additional charges.

iphoneatt

Like Time Warner Cable, which earlier this year tried testing bandwidth limits for wired Internet — and faced a backlash — De La Vega spoke of educating the customer. “We’ve got to get them to understand what represents a megabyte of data,” de la Vega said. “We’re improving all our systems to let consumers get real-time information on their data usage.” In other words, get ready to check your account periodically to monitor data use, much like you would with minutes in a limited voice plan.

If AT&T limits bandwidth use for so-called unlimited data plans, it’ll surely cause more bad blood between the company and its subscribers. A recent Consumer Reports customer satisfaction survey placed AT&T last among the four major carriers for both network quality and customer service. Attempts to salvage network quality at the expense of users’ freedom to use their phones as advertised will not go over well.

What’s worse is that bandwidth caps may not address AT&T’s network woes. When a network bottlenecks, it’s because a lot of users are performing bandwidth-intensive activities at the same time, not because they’ve been using a lot of data over an entire month. You could argue that restrictions would make some people more conscious of their activities, but if that’s the case, you’re effectively discouraging certain uses of the phone, and that’s not good.

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There are 10 comments

Blu-rayFreak
MyCE Resident
Posted on: 09 Dec 09 23:13
    if AT&T really does implement monthly bandwidth restrictions or caps on customers, I predict we'll see plenty of advertisements from Verizon wireless touting their unlimited data plans & network.
    Randomus
    MyCE Resident
    Posted on: 09 Dec 09 23:20
      Lame. As long as a person isn't tethering the device to a laptop, I believe subscribers signed up for "unlimited mobile data". I think we'll have to wait and see what these "incentives" will be, as iPhone and BlackBerry users want to be able to use as much bandwidth as they want.

      Another thing someone asked me: If they do this, can AT&T subscribers leave the service without paying an ETF?
      debro
      Blown to smitherines
      Posted on: 10 Dec 09 07:04
        Aww .. gee .. bummer!

        In Oz .. I get 150MB of bandwidth per month, and it costs me an extra $10au on top of the usual plan .... stupid Telstra business plans .. nuff said.
        rr_baker
        New Member
        Posted on: 10 Dec 09 17:43
          Well I for one am really tired of AT&T limiting our so-called unlimited plans. I used to have an Air Card that I carried with my laptop for two years all was fine then the almighty AT&T decided to limit the unlimited to 5 gig of usage. I then decided to go with a blackberry and tether this was unlimited also but only for a year then AT&T said that they no longer would have an unlimited tethering plan. I then went to an Iphone as it is as close to a pc as any phone out there now AT&T says it will no longer have an unlimited data plan on a IPhone well that is the last straw after almost 10 years of being an AT&T customer with 5 phones on my plan I know the Giant does not give a rats behind but I will go with a provider that allows true unlimited service and verizon is as bad as AT&T they hold unlimited to 5 gig but there are some new guys out there that have some great plans and I will choose one of them
          rainbowman54
          New Member
          Posted on: 10 Dec 09 18:11
            Quote:
            Originally Posted by Randomus
            Lame. As long as a person isn't tethering the device to a laptop, I believe subscribers signed up for "unlimited mobile data". I think we'll have to wait and see what these "incentives" will be, as iPhone and BlackBerry users want to be able to use as much bandwidth as they want.

            Another thing someone asked me: If they do this, can AT&T subscribers leave the service without paying an ETF?
            As A Technical Support Manager For At&t ( Previously Customer Service Manager) I Can tell you that as of now ( and I do not see it changing ) You will not be able to automatically get out of your contract for this change. In the Terms Of Service ( and The big 4 all have this in their terms ) Quoted From The Official Website: "CHANGES TO TERMS AND RATES
            We may change any terms, conditions, rates, fees, expenses, or charges regarding your service at any time. We will provide you with notice of such changes (other than changes to governmental fees, proportional charges for governmental mandates, roaming rates or administrative charges) either in your monthly bill or separately. You understand and agree that State and Federal Universal Service Fees and other governmentally imposed fees, whether or not assessed directly upon you, may be increased based upon the government's or our calculations. IF WE INCREASE THE PRICE OF ANY OF THE SERVICES TO WHICH YOU SUBSCRIBE, BEYOND THE LIMITS SET FORTH IN YOUR RATE PLAN BROCHURE, OR IF WE MATERIALLY DECREASE THE GEOGRAPHICAL AREA IN WHICH YOUR AIRTIME RATE APPLIES (OTHER THAN A TEMPORARY DECREASE FOR REPAIRS OR MAINTENANCE), WE WILL DISCLOSE THE CHANGE AT LEAST ONE BILLING CYCLE IN ADVANCE (EITHER THROUGH A NOTICE WITH YOUR BILL, A TEXT MESSAGE TO YOUR DEVICE, OR OTHERWISE), AND YOU MAY TERMINATE THIS AGREEMENT WITHOUT PAYING AN EARLY TERMINATION FEE OR RETURNING OR PAYING FOR ANY PROMOTIONAL ITEMS, PROVIDED YOUR NOTICE OF TERMINATION IS DELIVERED TO US WITHIN THIRTY (30) DAYS AFTER THE FIRST BILL REFLECTING THE CHANGE. If you lose your eligibility for a particular rate plan, we may change your rate plan to one for which you qualify."

            Just So You Know.....
            DrageMester
            Retired Moderator
            Posted on: 10 Dec 09 18:44
              Quote:
              Originally Posted by rainbowman54
              As A Technical Support Manager For At&t ( Previously Customer Service Manager) I Can tell you that as of now ( and I do not see it changing ) You will not be able to automatically get out of your contract for this change.
              [...]
              Just So You Know.....
              ...or in the words of another manager:

              http://1.bp.blogspot.com/_lq7yqzkuVR...s320/vader.png

              "I am altering the deal. Pray I don't alter it any further."

              rainbowman54
              New Member
              Posted on: 10 Dec 09 19:01
                Good One !!! Hopefully it will not come down to that but who knows what they may impose....Thankfully I can say I am not the one making the rules and also I do not work with Customer Relations who is the ones who cancel the accounts and handles the ETF or Waiving of....I am sure The OOP will be swamped if they go through with this however....Fun Times !!!!
                doumor_99
                New Member
                Posted on: 10 Dec 09 19:09
                  That is what class action lawsuites are for? You get a couple hundred thousand people and a sleazy lawyer to find a loophole and file a suit against them.
                  mnassour
                  New Member
                  Posted on: 10 Dec 09 20:26
                    Screw AT&T. Period.

                    "Hello Mr. Jobs? It's Verizon calling................................................"
                    lima520
                    New Member
                    Posted on: 13 Dec 09 04:26
                      why do you let at&t bully you?. after all, there are lots of other sources. i got rid of at&t and verizon after they tried to become a monopoly. i will not pay my money to someone and beg them for their services. then again, why do youhave to do a lot of texting and have a phone stuck in your ear all the day. people cannot regulate themselves. that's why the leeches like verizon and at&t can name their prices. you really don't need all the items and use them all the time. i know this is freedom of choice, but switch providers if they do not honor their committments.

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