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AT&T CEO bemoans iPhone unlimited data, iMessage

post #1 of 124
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AT&T chief Randall Stephenson wishes the company had never offered unlimited data plans with the original iPhone and worries about the impact free texting services like Apple's iMessage will have on the telecom's bottom line.

At the Milken Institute?s Global Conference on Wednesday, Stephenson expressed his discontent over AT&T's decision to to offer unlimited data plans when the first iPhone was launched in 2007, reports The New York Times.

?My only regret was how we introduced pricing in the beginning, because how did we introduce pricing? Thirty dollars and you get all you can eat," Stephenson said. "?And it?s a variable cost model. Every additional megabyte you use in this network, I have to invest capital.?

Stephenson, who took the reigns as CEO in the same year Apple's iPhone debuted as an AT&T-exclusive device, alluded that profits would have been healthier if the company opted for a different pricing model. AT&T ended unlimited data for the iPhone in 2010 and moved to a tiered model that helped the carrier reach $6.1 billion in revenue last quarter from data users alone.

It should be noted that customers who signed up for the original unlimited data plans were grandfathered in after the tiered pricing model was established. The opportunity came with the caveat that a user is not allowed to flip-flop between plans, that is they can't downgrade to tiered plan and move back up to unlimited. In March, AT&T instituted further restrictions to remaining all-you-can-eat data customers, however, and announced that it would be throttling data speeds when a user passes a 3GB threshold.

Randall Stephenson
AT&T CEO Randall Stephenson. | Source: AT&T


In addition to unlimited data concerns, Stephenson said that he is worried about other data-centric services taking over current AT&T offerings.

?You lie awake at night worrying about what is that which will disrupt your business model,? Stephenson said. ?Apple iMessage is a classic example. If you?re using iMessage, you?re not using one of our messaging services, right? That?s disruptive to our messaging revenue stream.?

Instead of using a subscription-based SMS, which is basically free for carriers to operate as texts are transmitted through radio network's control channel, iMessage let's iOS users send messages using wireless data. Apple launched the service alongside iOS 5 in 2011. The wireless market has seen an increase in text packaging as evidenced by AT&T's move to one $20 per month unlimited messaging option, though it remains unclear if the change was in direct response to data-based solutions.

Stephenson also cited VoIP solution Skype as another threat, this time to his company's voice plans.

Despite his consternation, the CEO ultimately revealed that he doesn't regret supporting the iPhone which accounted for 78 percent of AT&T's smartphone activations in the first quarter of 2012.

During the interview Stephenson discussed the initial conversations Apple co-founder Steve Jobs had with Cingular Wireless, which later became AT&T, over the proposed iPhone. He said that the board was worried the device would cause a shift in the carrier's business model.

?I remember asking the question: Are we investing in a business model, are we investing in a product or are we investing in Steve Jobs?? Stephenson said. ?The answer to the question was, you?re investing in Steve Jobs. Let?s go after this thing. And we went after it, and the rest is history.?
post #2 of 124

1. Your texts cost you $0.00.000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000 to send. You charge us $20 for a couple hundred. Screw you.

 

2. Yeah, unlimited data was a mistake; you're either too stupid or too inept to build out your network properly to meet the demand of modern society. Look at Japan. They're proof that it's possible and you're lying.

post #3 of 124
Quote:
Originally Posted by Tallest Skil View Post

1. Your texts cost you $0.00.000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000 to send. You charge us $20 for a couple hundred. Screw you.

2. Yeah, unlimited data was a mistake; you're either too stupid or too inept to build out your network properly to meet the demand of modern society. Look at Japan. They're proof that it's possible and you're lying.

Completely agree with you text messaging plans have been a robery for years. Now they want to do the same on data apps. I hope congress makes data caps ileagal on wired and wireless networks. Charge for the speed but no caps, theinternetis a utility...
post #4 of 124

Completely agree, but you can't really compare Japan's size and population to the whole United States. It's much easier in Japan.

Apple had me at scrolling
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Apple had me at scrolling
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post #5 of 124

Call the Waaaaaambulance.

 

Wonder how AT&T's bottom line would have been over the past 5 years without the iPhone.  IIRC they were getting throttled by Verizon, and customer satisfaction was in the toilet.

post #6 of 124
Quote:
Originally Posted by Tallest Skil View Post

1. Your texts cost you $0.00.000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000 to send. You charge us $20 for a couple hundred. Screw you.

 

2. Yeah, unlimited data was a mistake; you're either too stupid or too inept to build out your network properly to meet the demand of modern society. Look at Japan. They're proof that it's possible and you're lying.

 

Have a heart. Stephenson can't afford to pay his domestic help for a second-shift because you're cheating AT&T on profits with abusive data use. Now if he wants a midnight snack, he has to go downstairs and fix it himself. I guess they're used to stacking the deck against their customers.

"Apple should pull the plug on the iPhone."

John C. Dvorak, 2007
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"Apple should pull the plug on the iPhone."

John C. Dvorak, 2007
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post #7 of 124

Where is TalkTime already? C-mon Apple, enable tethering, facetime on cell network, and roll out Talktime! Ya you lose carrier subsidies, but who cares!

post #8 of 124

In the words of Ella Fitzgerald and Justin Timberlake... "cry me a river"

 

I along with many other (but a dwindling number of) early adopters have unlimited data and don't ever abuse the bandwidth. We pay $30 to use whatever amount, others pay $25 to use the same amount (below 2GB). AT&T makes $5 more on us which is the vast majority of users.

The texting thing is chickens coming home to roost (as many others have said). Not since the Vikings has a more egregious policy of rape and pillage been mounted as in mobile telco txt pricing.

Especially now with the loss of the low-text plans.
 

post #9 of 124

The best I can tell the Milken conference is where all the people who screwed the economy get together and try to figure out how to fix it. After hearing this guy speak I don't hold much hope for the economy getting fixed. I fear they may have given up on the economy in general and are focused on how to maintain their personal fortunes. $31.8B in sales and $3.6B in profit. last quarter for AT&T. 


Edited by kent909 - 5/5/12 at 8:22am
post #10 of 124
Quote:
Originally Posted by Tallest Skil View Post

2. Yeah, unlimited data was a mistake; you're either too stupid or too inept to build out your network properly to meet the demand of modern society. Look at Japan. They're proof that it's possible and you're lying.

 

Yes, because providing coverage in Japan and providing it in the non-contiguous 50 US states is the same thing.  Japan is roughly the size of California with not nearly the population density.  

 

Here's a piece of advice from the internet - be slower to call people stupid and/or inept.

post #11 of 124
Quote:
Originally Posted by iVlad View Post
Completely agree, but you can't really compare Japan's size and population to the whole United States. It's much easier in Japan.

 

So then they send representatives to Japan and South Korea (and Finland and Sweden) to learn how to build these networks. And then they come back and scale it up.


We're Americans. We're incredible at this sort of thing. It's the last few decades that these idiots (not just the telecoms) have become complacent and lazy.

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by johndoe98 View Post
Where is TalkTime already? C-mon Apple, enable tethering, facetime on cell network, and roll out Talktime! Ya you lose carrier subsidies, but who cares!

 

It may be on Apple to enable, but it's not their call to enable it.

post #12 of 124
Quote:
Originally Posted by Crimguy View Post

Call the Waaaaaambulance.

 

Wonder how AT&T's bottom line would have been over the past 5 years without the iPhone.  IIRC they were getting throttled by Verizon, and customer satisfaction was in the toilet.

 

OMG my exact feelings. I love hearing the telecom companies simultaneously complain about having iPhone service (AT&T) and not having iPhone service (T-Mobile). I bemoan ever having to use AT&T. T-Mobile was much nicer to me, cheaper, and actually worked everywhere. 

post #13 of 124
Quote:
Originally Posted by ShAdOwXPR View Post

Completely agree with you text messaging plans have been a robery for years. Now they want to do the same on data apps. I hope congress makes data caps ileagal on wired and wireless networks. Charge for the speed but no caps, theinternetis a utility...

You want the government that no one can or should trust to get even MORE involved? What?

If anything, regulations need to be eliminated so competition can become more fierce between these companies.

Proud AAPL stock owner.

 

GOA

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Proud AAPL stock owner.

 

GOA

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post #14 of 124
Quote:
Originally Posted by Tallest Skil View Post

 

It may be on Apple to enable, but it's not their call to enable it.

Care to explain? You aren't making much sense to me. If Apple enables tethering, FaceTime, and implements a TalkTime, what exactly can AT&T do that won't involve antitrust and anticompetitive suits to follow shortly? FaceTime and TalkTime would be Skype competitors. AT&T can't just start blocking Skype at will. As for tethering, same deal. If a company decides to roll out a tethering App in the App Store and sell you the feature for 5$, AT&T can't now claim that interferes with their 20$ a month tethering plan. Simply won't fly. Remember what happened when Google Voice was being blocked in the App Store? The FTC quickly stepped in and demanded an explanation from AT&T and Apple.

post #15 of 124

It's also NO SURPRISE that he's spouting this at the Milken Institute. Anyone remember Mike Milken? The "King of Junk Bonds?"

 

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Michael_Milken

 

It's just like MBAs like Stephenson to "moan" in a safe environment.. and not, say at an AT&T shareholder meeting.

post #16 of 124

(a)  there's never been unlimited data and there isn't now.

 

(b)  your business model of say anything to get the customer then screwing them over (aka market-first-react-later) is your own fault.

 

(c)  boo-effing-hoo, you already make 12-13 Billion a year in net profit.

 

at&t management long ago destroyed what little goodwill i had toward the company.

post #17 of 124
My message to AT&T:

LO&L
Pot is legal in North Korea.
That explains a considerable amount.

"The United States will respond proportionally at a place and time we choose..."
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Pot is legal in North Korea.
That explains a considerable amount.

"The United States will respond proportionally at a place and time we choose..."
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post #18 of 124
Quote:
Originally Posted by johndoe98 View Post
Care to explain? You aren't making much sense to me. If Apple enables tethering, FaceTime, and implements a TalkTime, what exactly can AT&T do that won't involve antitrust and anticompetitive suits to follow shortly? FaceTime and TalkTime would be Skype competitors. AT&T can't just start blocking Skype at will.

 

Well, FaceTime works on 3G in other countries (Saudi Arabia is one, I believe). Apple is the one that enables it, but the telecoms are the ones that approve it. And heck yes, they'll just block Skype. Don't think they won't.

 


Quote:
Originally Posted by Pooch View Post
(a)  there's never been unlimited data and there isn't now.

 

2007, 8, and 9 called.

 

… The call dropped because it was on AT&T, but I heard, "Tel… …ooch that we ha… …imited data and w… 'on't know w… …alking about."

post #19 of 124
Quote:
Originally Posted by Tallest Skil View Post

 

Well, FaceTime works on 3G in other countries (Saudi Arabia is one, I believe). Apple is the one that enables it, but the telecoms are the ones that approve it. And heck yes, they'll just block Skype. Don't think they won't.

The carriers cannot approve and disapprove anything they want. They can certainly try, but the US is a nation of laws and the carriers have to abide by those laws.

post #20 of 124

This just in: "sending email takes away from the money we could be making on texts."  I really don't think the alleged losses flies because AT&T got rid of their $5 and $10 text plans in favor of $20/mo plan or paying dearly for each trivial text.

 

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by johndoe98 View Post

Care to explain? You aren't making much sense to me. If Apple enables tethering, FaceTime, and implements a TalkTime, what exactly can AT&T do that won't involve antitrust and anticompetitive suits to follow shortly? FaceTime and TalkTime would be Skype competitors. AT&T can't just start blocking Skype at will. As for tethering, same deal. If a company decides to roll out a tethering App in the App Store and sell you the feature for 5$, AT&T can't now claim that interferes with their 20$ a month tethering plan. Simply won't fly. Remember what happened when Google Voice was being blocked in the App Store? The FTC quickly stepped in and demanded an explanation from AT&T and Apple.

 

AT&T and Apple have a contract.  Last I heard, Apple gets a very considerable amount of money per device, including a monthly fee.  AT&T then has some say in what they allow Apple to enable in exchange for the subsidy.

post #21 of 124
Quote:
Originally Posted by johndoe98 View Post

The carriers cannot approve and disapprove anything they want. They can certainly try, but the US is a nation of laws and the carriers have to abide by those laws.

 

What law is AT&T violating by disallowing 3G FaceTime use?

 

Not that I like it, but to imply that it's illegal, I think that claim needs to be supported.  A concept such as net neutrality doesn't apply to wireless carriers.


Edited by JeffDM - 5/4/12 at 4:46pm
post #22 of 124

unethical corporate greed!!!!!

post #23 of 124
Quote:
Originally Posted by Derek Knight View Post

Corporate greed is insatiable.  We have 4 iphones.  I have thrown $300/mo at AT&T since the original iPhone came out.  My parents use a trickle of data and txt (on 2 of the phones).  AT&T now has the audacity to play the poor mouth after all these years of fat profits.  Nonetheless, they have neglected to use these funds to adequately prepare for the LTE rollout.

I am SICK of these CLOWNS.  Feel like dumping cellular data altogether.

By the way, in many foreign countries, there is no charge for incoming txt messages.

Agreed. I wonder if this ass clown realizes his business would be nothing close to what it is today without the iPhone. AT&T has done nothing but bitch and moan about the iPhone and its users (their own customers) since day 1. Their network has improved since my first iPhone in 2008, bug it still SUCKS compared to Verizon. This man should get down on his knees and thank a life size portrait of Steve Jobs every day.
I can only please one person per day.  Today is not your day.  Tomorrow doesn't look good either.  
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I can only please one person per day.  Today is not your day.  Tomorrow doesn't look good either.  
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post #24 of 124
Quote:
Originally Posted by johndoe98 View Post
The carriers cannot approve and disapprove anything they want. They can certainly try, but the US is a nation of laws and the carriers have to abide by those laws.

 

Except they can. Because they do. Because no one cares enough to stop them, and the people in charge of stopping them are being paid off by the people doing the un-stopping.

post #25 of 124
Quote:
Originally Posted by SpamSandwich View Post


You want the government that no one can or should trust to get even MORE involved? What?
If anything, regulations need to be eliminated so competition can become more fierce between these companies.

Uh, yes.

 

De-regulation is the cause of most of this country's problems.  We literally would not be in this mess were it not for de-regulation.

post #26 of 124
Hey, I pay my $30/month for my unlimited plan yet never use more than 2GB AND I pay $30/month for unlimited family plan texting (which also gives me unlimited mobile-to-mobile regardless of network) yet most of my texting is to other iOS users SO, the way I see, AT&T is ahead and this douche-nozzle should shut up and stop complaining.
post #27 of 124
Quote:
Originally Posted by JeffDM View Post

This just in: "sending email takes away from the money we could be making on texts."  I really don't think the alleged losses flies because AT&T got rid of their $5 and $10 text plans in favor of $20/mo plan or paying dearly for each trivial text.

 

 

 

AT&T and Apple have a contract.  Last I heard, Apple gets a very considerable amount of money per device, including a monthly fee.  AT&T then has some say in what they allow Apple to enable in exchange for the subsidy.

And that is why I proposed Apple should not renew the contract. They would no longer be bound by those conditions.

post #28 of 124

The business fact is what does ATT, Verizon etc…innovate? They are pipes that's all - cellular pipes at that. They make their neywork faster - 4G - that's it. 

 

Stephenson what are YOU innovating? Apple, Google, Skype (Microsoft) etc… are actually making your company irrelevant in the very near future. But Mr. Stephenson you're great at bemoaning that many other CEO's make you look like a fool. You have zero vision of a future for ATT. Jobs and now Cook HAVE a grand vision of their future and technology. They innovate - you are in whoa is me mode.

 

Apple could buy ATT in a heartbeat - but why would they? Even the value of your pipes are not worth the purchase. I'm very interested where and ATT or Verizon will even be in say 10 years? Even here? But IMO if you are a very much smaller company - unless you CREATE something. Fat chance.

 

Sell your ATT stock people.

post #29 of 124
Quote:
Originally Posted by JeffDM View Post

 

What law is AT&T violating by disallowing 3G FaceTime use?

 

Not that I like it, but to imply that it's illegal, I think that claim needs to be supported.  A concept such as net neutrality doesn't apply to wireless carriers.

I didn't say a law was being violated. Nor did I imply that anything illegal was currently taking place. I said if the subsidies were terminated (and here I insinuated by legal means), then should Apple enable FaceTime over 3G, LTE, etc., AT&T would have trouble blocking that attempt, just like AT&T would have a hard time trying to block Skype (which they don't, and so far as I can see, have made no attempt to do so). As it currently stands, Apple will not enable FaceTime on cellular data since it is likely prohibited in the contract they have with AT&T. Be more careful to what is said and in what context going forward.

post #30 of 124
Quote:
Originally Posted by Tallest Skil View Post

 

Except they can. Because they do. Because no one cares enough to stop them, and the people in charge of stopping them are being paid off by the people doing the un-stopping.

If that were true how would you explain what happened with Google Voice? They were being blocked, and yet, mysteriously, as soon as they filed a FTC complaint they magically were granted access to the App Store and iOS environment. The FTC would not have bothered investigating if Google didn't have a legitimate concern.

post #31 of 124

I've had the iPhone with AT&T since almost the beginning but this is the kind of attitude that will certainly hasten the end.

post #32 of 124
Quote:
Originally Posted by JeffDM View Post

AT&T and Apple have a contract.  Last I heard, Apple gets a very considerable amount of money per device, including a monthly fee.  AT&T then has some say in what they allow Apple to enable in exchange for the subsidy.

 

They do indeed have a contract, one that does not include money being sent from AT&T to Apple every month for device sales. That ended years ago with the iPhone 3G.

post #33 of 124
Quote:
Originally Posted by johndoe98 View Post
If that were true how would you explain what happened with Google Voice? They were being blocked, and yet, mysteriously, as soon as they filed a FTC complaint they magically were granted access to the App Store and iOS environment. The FTC would not have bothered investigating if Google didn't have a legitimate concern.

 

What does… that have to do with the telecoms?

post #34 of 124
Quote:
Originally Posted by Tallest Skil View Post

 

What does… that have to do with the telecoms?

 

Google Voice is a free app that allows free calls over data networks. Does it really need any more explaining than that?

post #35 of 124
Quote:
Originally Posted by HKZ View Post
Google Voice is a free app that allows free calls over data networks. Does it really need any more explaining than that?

 

Yes. What does it have to do with the telecoms? Were the telecoms blocking Google Voice on their networks?

post #36 of 124
Quote:
Originally Posted by Tallest Skil View Post

 

Yes. What does it have to do with the telecoms? Were the telecoms blocking Google Voice on their networks?

Well the suspicion that that was the case is precisely what lead to the investigation. Google wrote to the FTC and the FTC demanded disclosure from both AT&T and Apple regarding their policies surrounding Google. If the telecoms had nothing to do with it the FTC would only have written a letter to Apple. Clearly the FTC thought something was weird and inappropriate. Once the AT&T and Apple both responded they were not blocking Google Voice, it magically was now approved in the App store. Funny coincidence. Well, the investigation was dropped at that point. 

post #37 of 124
Quote:
Originally Posted by Tallest Skil View Post

 

Yes. What does it have to do with the telecoms? Were the telecoms blocking Google Voice on their networks?

 

You can't seriously be that dense.

post #38 of 124
Quote:
Originally Posted by johndoe98 View Post
Well the suspicion that that was the case is precisely what lead to the investigation. Google wrote to the FTC and the FTC demanded disclosure from both AT&T and Apple regarding their policies surrounding Google. If the telecoms had nothing to do with it the FTC would only have written a letter to Apple. Clearly the FTC thought something was weird and inappropriate. Once the AT&T and Apple both responded they were not blocking Google Voice, it magically was now approved in the App store. Funny coincidence. Well, the investigation was dropped at that point. 

 

So you have no proof of telecom involvement, then. So why bring it up? It seems more like a problem between Apple and Google than anything else. 

 

If Google Voice had been blocked from use on Android devices or Windows Phone 7 devices, you'd have a talking point. As it stands, there's no evidence that says the telecoms had anything to do with that, and there's not much evidence of anything else happening, either.

 

If I remember correctly (*snort*), Google Voice's approval in the App Store was simply taking an inordinate amount of time. One could say it was someone at Apple lashing out against Google for their theft and betrayal, but if there's no evidence of that, you can't say it and expect it to be taken seriously. Wasn't it also rejected (for improper API use) the first time they submitted? If so, you have to have other considerations than 'petty bickering'.

 


Quote:
Originally Posted by HKZ View Post
You can't seriously be that dense.

 

If you can provide me with some information that states AT&T (or any other telecoms) would have had a problem with the service as a whole (on all platforms that would use their services), I'll reconsider the idea.

post #39 of 124
Quote:
Originally Posted by meofcourse View Post

The business fact is what does ATT, Verizon etc…innovate? They are pipes that's all - cellular pipes at that. They make their neywork faster - 4G - that's it. 

Stephenson what are YOU innovating? Apple, Google, Skype (Microsoft) etc… are actually making your company irrelevant in the very near 
future. But Mr. 
Stephenson you're great at bemoaning that many other CEO's make you look like a fool. You have zero vision of a future for ATT. Jobs and now Cook HAVE a grand vision of their future and technology. They innovate - you are in whoa is me mode.

Apple could buy ATT in a heartbeat - but why would they? Even the value of your pipes are not worth the purchase. 
I'm very interested where and ATT or Verizon will even be in say 10 years? Even here? But IMO if you are a very much smaller company - unless you CREATE something. Fat chance.
Sell your ATT stock people.

Those so called "pipes" are the life's blood to our devices and its akin to saying our veins are just pipes but without them we'd die. Regardless of what you think ATT would've done just as fine if the iPhone never existed, we'd all still have some type of phone on their network.

Is Apple the only one allowed to nickel and dime us? Is Apple the only one allowed to make money? One can make an app to circumvent ATTs network but god forbid anyone makes an app that circumvents Apple in any way.
Edited by dasanman69 - 5/4/12 at 6:29pm
"Few things are harder to put up with than the annoyance of a good example" Mark Twain
"Just because something is deemed the law doesn't make it just" - SolipsismX
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"Few things are harder to put up with than the annoyance of a good example" Mark Twain
"Just because something is deemed the law doesn't make it just" - SolipsismX
Reply
post #40 of 124

Stupid argument.

Stupid argument.  Not True At All!

 

Think about it, we did not get unlimited speed.  We only get up to 1 Mb per second, so you multiple the bandwidth to the number of seconds in a month, that is your cost.  Chances are that none of us are downloading all the time.  Basically we are paying the bandwidth whether we use it or not.  The consumers are the losers here.

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