or Connect
AppleInsider › Forums › General › General Discussion › AT&T CEO says data-only subscriptions 'inevitable' for wireless networks
New Posts  All Forums:Forum Nav:

AT&T CEO says data-only subscriptions 'inevitable' for wireless networks

post #1 of 76
Thread Starter 
AT&T CEO Randall Stephenson said on Friday that data-only wireless phone plans are likely to arrive within the next two years, marking a dramatic shift away from traditional cell network usage toward VoIP and text-as-data solutions like Apple's iMessage.

Speaking at an investors conference, Stephenson said that while AT&T had no plans in place to offer an all-data subscription model, the industry is trending in that direction as smartphones continue to gain popularity led by Apple's iPhone and handsets running Google's Android mobile operating system, reports the Associated Press.

"I'll be surprised if, in the next 24 months, we don't see people in the market place with data-only plans," Stephenson said. "I just think that's inevitable."

Under a data-centric plan users would have to use VoIP solutions like Skype to hold voice conversations, changing Internet calling into a necessity rather than an option to save on billed minutes. The switch would also be disruptive to the installed system in which telecoms monetize voice calls by charging each other to connect to cellphone numbers. This is one of the reasons why voice and data charges are billed separately.

Stephenson recently bemoaned AT&T's decision to offer unlimited data with the original iPhone and iPad, adding that Apple's iMessage is also a source of concern because it takes away from the company's texting revenue.

While it may seem ironic that texting is quickly moving the industry away from voice technology toward a style of communication seen in pagers during the 1990's, the reality is that modern data exchanges offer a much richer and more immediate experience than their obsolescent counterparts. Smartphones give users the ability to be in constant contact with each other, and new data-driven apps like Sounder literally keep an open connection to friends and peers.

As telecoms move to 4G LTE, an increasing amount of consumers will use an increasing amount of limited bandwidth which could force carriers to raise prices or find alternative solutions.

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


For now, AT&T is hoping to introduce a shared data plan similar to how the company offers shared voice plans for families. The initiative is a long time coming and the carrier has been "working on it" for over a year, presumably to find a way to implement such a service without losing profits.

With shared data plans essentially representing a discount for users that would normally buy separate plans for each device they owned, the prospect of the pricing structure would seemingly be damaging to telecoms' bottom lines. Stephenson pointed out that AT&T is looking to make more money from shared data, not less.

When you have millions of devices such as tablets that lack cellular data plans, Stephenson said, "it seems to me it's a lift, not a deterioration" to get them connected. The chief executive is referring to users who may not be using the cellular capabilities of their iPads or other tablets and are instead operating solely on Wi-Fi.

To make data plan pricing more attractive to consumers Stephenson noted that the wireless industry will experiment with charging content providers for the data used to access their websites in a type of "800 toll-free number" system. Critics say this would give the upper hand to well-established companies that can afford to pay the instituted subsidy and squelch competition from cash-poor startups. The experiment will likely start within the year, though it is unknown which carriers will be taking part in the initiative.

"It's not us going out and mandating this. The content guys are coming in asking for it," Stephenson said. "If you don't allow those kinds of models to flourish, you're going to inhibit the potential of these services."
post #2 of 76

How about NO data subscriptions?! How's that sound?!

Originally posted by Marvin

Even if [the 5.5” iPhone] exists, it doesn’t deserve to.
Reply

Originally posted by Marvin

Even if [the 5.5” iPhone] exists, it doesn’t deserve to.
Reply
post #3 of 76

It's my understanding that Morpheus had a data only wireless plan, but squiddies had all his best spots.

post #4 of 76
How about a data subscription for a service that's actually usable? The AT&T network is worthless in the downtown Chicago area.
post #5 of 76
Well apple my as well just make 3 or 4G iPods instead.
I'm so sick of hearing what AT&T thinks is good.
They make me ill when I read about what the CEO has to say.
post #6 of 76

It's really simple.  They have DPI boxes that do very little that are currently not real-time tied to AAA/Radius.  DPI is a guarantee, the tie to the sub account is another thing.

 

Once they deploy additional DPI boxes at the core pops/drains or T2 positions on their networks, and have a link back to tie this in, they can offer 100% unlimited tiered pricing based on the traffic that is passing on their networks. Choose 100% voip, and you'll have to pay more.  Choose only bookface, and you might fit into their $500/mo cheap plan!

 

Apple owners could care less, their voice doesn't work very well on ATT cell network to begin with. They could care less about things like AAA or DPI or Radius on a carrier network.

post #7 of 76
Quote:
Originally Posted by Tallest Skil View Post

How about NO data subscriptions?! How's that sound?!

It's called a dumb phone.  You knew that, didn't you, Tally?

post #8 of 76
Quote:
Originally Posted by AppleGreen View Post
It's called a dumb phone.  You knew that, didn't you, Tally?

 

No, it isn't. There is no excuse for this plan apartheid. Why should I be forced to buy a different phone?

Originally posted by Marvin

Even if [the 5.5” iPhone] exists, it doesn’t deserve to.
Reply

Originally posted by Marvin

Even if [the 5.5” iPhone] exists, it doesn’t deserve to.
Reply
post #9 of 76

I have been thinking.  NetZero has the 4G mobile broadband with unlimited data.  Why not buy a Magic Jack.  Install the My Magic Jack app then buy the NetZero 4G and keep that with you as your data.  4GB Net Zero $49.99.  Its powered by Micro USB and you can power it in your car.  Or you can carry a  Zagg Portable power to go.  Total monthly cost of Net Zero 50 bucks and you get mostly unlimited internet and then you can make calls any where with the Zagg powering your Net Zero.  Of course the only draw back is carrying extra hard ware but hey it beats AT&T bull Sh%$ pricing crap.  And the Net Zero is not contractual as well as it works on any 4G and 3G network.  Screw AT&T.  They need to get spanked.  

An Apple man since 1977
Reply
An Apple man since 1977
Reply
post #10 of 76

I'd buy it.

GIGO. The truth in all of life.
Reply
GIGO. The truth in all of life.
Reply
post #11 of 76
I don't use voice all that often. I barely txt. Data only with a cheap Skype number would be extremely enticing.
"You can converge a toaster and a refrigerator but, ya know, those things are probably not going to be pleasing to the user."
Reply
"You can converge a toaster and a refrigerator but, ya know, those things are probably not going to be pleasing to the user."
Reply
post #12 of 76

I think that in 2 years we could see the start of such a realm but it will be more like 5 years before it's fully formed. first it will be basically no more texting, or at least a hell of a lot less, as AIM, iMessages etc take over. Then voice calls will die out in favor of Video calls like Skype and FaceTime. They will never die but they will become the secondary form just like SMS. Carriers will start to offer cheaper lower minute packages and lower text packages as the way to entice users, likely dropping all unlimited packages at some point or restoring them with way high monthly fees like $200 a month. Which will be fine so long as they have tiers of lower packages for those of us that are in wifi 75-90% of the time and don't need that kind of usage

 

We'll also possibly see more wifi hotspots in places like public parks, along streets etc from either the carriers that also provide internet service (like ATT), the cable companies or joint projects by both. All to push folks to use wifi over cell data as much as possible.

A non tech's thoughts on Apple stuff 

(She's family so I'm a little biased)

Reply

A non tech's thoughts on Apple stuff 

(She's family so I'm a little biased)

Reply
post #13 of 76
I thought that the next step after 4G-LTE was 4G-LTE-Advanced, which was supposed to be all packet switched for everything. If so, I thought that meant everything was data-only.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/4G
Quote:
As opposed to earlier generations, a 4G system does not support traditional circuit-switched telephony service, but all-internet protocol (IP) based communication such as IP telephony.
[...]
An IMT-Advanced cellular system must fulfill the following requirements:[5]
  • Based on an all-IP packet switched network.
  • Peak data rates of up to approximately 100 Mbit/s for high mobility such as mobile access and up to approximately 1 Gbit/s for low mobility such as nomadic/local wireless access.
  • Dynamically share and use the network resources to support more simultaneous users per cell.
  • Scalable channel bandwidth 5–20 MHz, optionally up to 40 MHz.[6][7]
  • Peak link spectral efficiency of 15 bit/s/Hz in the downlink, and 6.75 bit/s/Hz in the uplink (meaning that 1 Gbit/s in the downlink should be possible over less than 67 MHz bandwidth).
  • System spectral efficiency of up to 3 bit/s/Hz/cell in the downlink and 2.25 bit/s/Hz/cell for indoor usage.[6]
  • Smooth handovers across heterogeneous networks.
  • Ability to offer high quality of service for next generation multimedia support.

So AT&T is now saying they are terrified of data-only plans, inferring that they will only support 4G-LTE-Advanced (not to mention tethering) dragging their heels and kicking and screaming all the way--until they get a new CEO that sees things differently. If true 4G has been data-only since its inception, it is disingenuous or incompetently short-sighted of AT&T's CEO to only now come to the realization that data-only plans are inevitable. Apparently, despite years of research and modeling, AT&T can't figure out how way to generate revenue from IP Telephony (VOIP), or tethering, or data-only plans in a way to appeal and entice customers to do business with them.
Edited by jbh0001 - 6/1/12 at 8:26pm
post #14 of 76
Quote:
Originally Posted by tylerk36 View Post

I have been thinking.  NetZero has the 4G mobile broadband with unlimited data.  Why not buy a Magic Jack.  Install the My Magic Jack app then buy the NetZero 4G and keep that with you as your data.  4GB Net Zero $49.99.  Its powered by Micro USB and you can power it in your car.  Or you can carry a  Zagg Portable power to go.  Total monthly cost of Net Zero 50 bucks and you get mostly unlimited internet and then you can make calls any where with the Zagg powering your Net Zero.  Of course the only draw back is carrying extra hard ware but hey it beats AT&T bull Sh%$ pricing crap.  And the Net Zero is not contractual as well as it works on any 4G and 3G network.  Screw AT&T.  They need to get spanked.  

Or you could just buy Straight Talk which is $49.49 for unlimited voice, texting, and data.
"I'm way over my head when it comes to technical issues like this"
Gatorguy 5/31/13
Reply
"I'm way over my head when it comes to technical issues like this"
Gatorguy 5/31/13
Reply
post #15 of 76
Quote:
Originally Posted by jragosta View Post


Or you could just buy Straight Talk which is $49.49 for unlimited voice, texting, and data.

But does it work on iPhone without being unlocked?  Or can they still be out of contract iPhones?

An Apple man since 1977
Reply
An Apple man since 1977
Reply
post #16 of 76

The hard truth is that all modern telephone systems are IP (or some sort of data) telephone systems.  If you make a phone call from your cell phone, it becomes a data (ie 1's and 0's) call as soon as it hits the tower.  The only difference is if you send it as a data packet from your phone, or AT&T does it after it hits their equipment. 

It's all a scam and a rip off.

post #17 of 76
Quote:
Originally Posted by charlituna View Post

I think that in 2 years we could see the start of such a realm but it will be more like 5 years before it's fully formed. first it will be basically no more texting, or at least a hell of a lot less, as AIM, iMessages etc take over. Then voice calls will die out in favor of Video calls like Skype and FaceTime. They will never die but they will become the secondary form just like SMS. Carriers will start to offer cheaper lower minute packages and lower text packages as the way to entice users, likely dropping all unlimited packages at some point or restoring them with way high monthly fees like $200 a month. Which will be fine so long as they have tiers of lower packages for those of us that are in wifi 75-90% of the time and don't need that kind of usage

 

We'll also possibly see more wifi hotspots in places like public parks, along streets etc from either the carriers that also provide internet service (like ATT), the cable companies or joint projects by both. All to push folks to use wifi over cell data as much as possible.

Here's the problem I have with video calling: It means I need to get dressed, maybe take a shower or brush my hair, possibly shave -- whatever.

 

If someone calls me 1/2-hour after I get up, and I'm still a mess, I definitely wouldn't want to talk to more than maybe two people in that state.  And I know women who wouldn't feel comfortable without make-up, etc.

post #18 of 76

Randall Stephenson looks disturbingly like someone else who also happens to be a representative of an ancient group struggling to stay relevant in modern times:

http://angel.fcpages.com/angel/angel211-wesley.jpg

post #19 of 76
Quote:
Originally Posted by phasegen View Post

The hard truth is that all modern telephone systems are IP (or some sort of data) telephone systems.  If you make a phone call from your cell phone, it becomes a data (ie 1's and 0's) call as soon as it hits the tower.  The only difference is if you send it as a data packet from your phone, or AT&T does it after it hits their equipment. 

It's all a scam and a rip off.

I agree.  I think these Cell Phone companies are acting like they are the victims.  What a crock.  I think they work hard to keep the premium phones locked into their network until you give them $2,400.00 or more over a two year period.  By then the phone is obsolete and you are upgrading to a new phone and plan that benefits them.  I will do everything in my power to not pay the major networks for my cell usage.  Pay as you go is the way.  I have used absinth and repo.bingner on my iPhone 4s and unlocked it under 5.1.1.  It works great.

An Apple man since 1977
Reply
An Apple man since 1977
Reply
post #20 of 76
Quote:
Originally Posted by AppleInsider View Post

AT&T CEO Randall Stephenson said on Friday that data-only wireless phone plans are likely to arrive within the next two years, marking a dramatic shift away from traditional cell network usage toward VoIP and text-as-data solutions like Apple's iMessage.

"So we will be looking for ways to continue to squeeze (additional) revenue from users as this comes to fruition", he stated.

post #21 of 76

This CEO is GENIUS!!!  

 

In other news, the sky is BLUE!

post #22 of 76
Quote:
Originally Posted by phasegen View Post

The hard truth is that all modern telephone systems are IP (or some sort of data) telephone systems.  If you make a phone call from your cell phone, it becomes a data (ie 1's and 0's) call as soon as it hits the tower.  The only difference is if you send it as a data packet from your phone, or AT&T does it after it hits their equipment. 

It's all a scam and a rip off.

 

??? "Packets" are synonymous with well... "packet switching" rather than circuit switching.  Packet switching is, in turn, almost synonymous with Internet Protocol (IP).

 

GSM uses circuit switching.  LTE uses packet switching.  The backbone of much of AT&T's telephony services is IP based already though.

post #23 of 76
Quote:
Originally Posted by Chris_CA View Post

"So we will be looking for ways to continue to squeeze (additional) revenue from users as this comes to fruition", he stated.

 

How else can AT&T increase shareholder value without becoming a monopoly or branching into fast food retail (there are things they can do but apparently they don't see that)?

post #24 of 76

What makes a CEO get so rich.  The tens of millions of dollars.  And they act like they are suffering from us using data and iMessage?

An Apple man since 1977
Reply
An Apple man since 1977
Reply
post #25 of 76
Quote:
Originally Posted by Kimk69 View Post

Well apple my as well just make 3 or 4G iPods instead.
I'm so sick of hearing what AT&T thinks is good.
They make me ill when I read about what the CEO has to say.

actually it's not a bad idea as long as the rates drop since voice will no longer be part of the package ... yeah, i'm sure that'll happen!

post #26 of 76
Quote:
Originally Posted by AaronJ View Post

Here's the problem I have with video calling: It means I need to get dressed, maybe take a shower or brush my hair, possibly shave -- whatever.

 

If someone calls me 1/2-hour after I get up, and I'm still a mess, I definitely wouldn't want to talk to more than maybe two people in that state.  And I know women who wouldn't feel comfortable without make-up, etc.

well seeing that you're such a putz, I wonder how many incoming calls you get anyway.

post #27 of 76

I use less than 2 hours of talk time per month.  I do everything via text, email, and iMessages, yet I also manage to stay below the $30/mo 2GB data cap.  often I use less than 1GB of data in a month.

 

I wish they'd have sub-tiers within their voice and data plans for people like me.

post #28 of 76
Quote:
Originally Posted by phasegen View Post

The hard truth is that all modern telephone systems are IP (or some sort of data) telephone systems.  If you make a phone call from your cell phone, it becomes a data (ie 1's and 0's) call as soon as it hits the tower.  The only difference is if you send it as a data packet from your phone, or AT&T does it after it hits their equipment. 

It's all a scam and a rip off.

 

the hard truth is that you are simply wrong, you do not understand telephone systems

 

whilst the bulk of voice traffic is digitized, it is not as simple as 1s and 0s, time is of the essence

 

it's not just bandwidth, the latency, jitter and packet loss need to be controlled, otherwise call quality plummets or the call is dropped completely

 

building a network able to sustain decent quality voice, manage congestion, and interoperate with all the other telco networks, is a far more sophisticated and expensive exercise than a plain ip data network where high levels of latency and jitter will have no effect on most traffic and network packet loss is recovered (eventually) by the higher layer protocol

 

at&t and all the other telcos have invested hundreds of billions to create networks combining the necessary performance with extreme levels of resilience, and (aside from when governments interfere) anyone on the phone network can talk to anyone else, no walled gardens

 

with the plain old telephone system, picking up a handset and not getting dial tone was an experience that i'd bet the majority of people in the developed world never experienced in their lifetimes

 

the same cannot be said for the average isp, and anyone using a mobile phone or other gsm/3g/whatever device will have experienced poor/no coverage, or problems when traffic volume overloads local base stations

 

most of the ip voice i've used sucks, either because it's via an internet service where there's no/inadequate qos assurance, or in the case of enterprise voip they've simply pennypinched on the bandwidth - beancounters see only money to be saved, they do not care if thousands of personnel get poor call quality

 

if the telcos can't find a way to retain/grow revenue, they won't be able to maintain and enhance their networks, then the price we all pay will be low reliability, poor quality, and perhaps even fragmentation into isolated voice/messaging networks

 

most telcos do a very good job, few things in life are as reliable as the dial-tone, don't begrudge them the money

post #29 of 76
Quote:
Originally Posted by Tallest Skil View Post

 

No, it isn't. There is no excuse for this plan apartheid. Why should I be forced to buy a different phone?

If you are off contract why can't you ask for the unlock code and use a pay as you go plan?

Life is too short to drink bad coffee.

Reply

Life is too short to drink bad coffee.

Reply
post #30 of 76
Quote:
Originally Posted by mstone View Post
If you are off contract why can't you ask for the unlock code and use a pay as you go plan?

 

America. They don't give those out. And it doesn't matter, because I'd have to go with a regional carrier (or T-Mobile) that doesn't have the iPhone to be allowed to a plan without data, anyway.

Originally posted by Marvin

Even if [the 5.5” iPhone] exists, it doesn’t deserve to.
Reply

Originally posted by Marvin

Even if [the 5.5” iPhone] exists, it doesn’t deserve to.
Reply
post #31 of 76
Quote:
Originally Posted by Tallest Skil View Post

 

America. They don't give those out. And it doesn't matter, because I'd have to go with a regional carrier (or T-Mobile) that doesn't have the iPhone to be allowed to a plan without data, anyway.

I thought AT&T was giving out the unlock codes now. You can also use AT&T pay as you go sim.

Life is too short to drink bad coffee.

Reply

Life is too short to drink bad coffee.

Reply
post #32 of 76
Quote:
Originally Posted by mstone View Post
I thought AT&T was giving out the unlock codes now.


If you no longer live in the US, have finished a 2-year contract, and e-mail them to publicly draw attention to the fact that what they're doing is a scam.

 

Otherwise…

 

Quote:
 You can also use AT&T pay as you go sim.

 

Not with an iPhone. Well, not for long. You'll get a message about a data plan added to your account at some point.

Originally posted by Marvin

Even if [the 5.5” iPhone] exists, it doesn’t deserve to.
Reply

Originally posted by Marvin

Even if [the 5.5” iPhone] exists, it doesn’t deserve to.
Reply
post #33 of 76
Quote:
Originally Posted by Tallest Skil View Post

Not with an iPhone. Well, not for long. You'll get a message about a data plan added to your account at some point.

 

Can you point to any links about that? If you pick up a pay as you go sim at the grocery store do you even have an account?

 

This is what I remember reading.

 

http://forums.appleinsider.com/t/148611/at-ts-iphone-unlock-process-accomplished-through-apples-itunes

Life is too short to drink bad coffee.

Reply

Life is too short to drink bad coffee.

Reply
post #34 of 76
Quote:
Originally Posted by mstone View Post
Can you point to any links about that? If you pick up a pay as you go sim at the grocery store do you even have an account?

 

They go by IMEI. They'll see it's an iPhone IMEI and add the data. Gotta use an "iPhone plan" with an iPhone on carriers that legitimately have an iPhone. Everyone else is fair game, but that number is dwindling.

Originally posted by Marvin

Even if [the 5.5” iPhone] exists, it doesn’t deserve to.
Reply

Originally posted by Marvin

Even if [the 5.5” iPhone] exists, it doesn’t deserve to.
Reply
post #35 of 76

Crap... So it's still another two years till I finally buy an iPhone.

post #36 of 76
Quote:
Originally Posted by Tallest Skil View Post

 

No, it isn't. There is no excuse for this plan apartheid. Why should I be forced to buy a different phone?

You aren't "forced" to buy a different phone.  Most of those plans all come with free phones.

post #37 of 76

"(A)n increasing amount of consumers will use an increasing amount of limited bandwidth which could force carriers to raise prices or find alternative solutions."

 

Correction... it wouldn't force carriers to raise prices.  They will use any excuse they can come up with to raise already high prices!

post #38 of 76

Not sure how this company AT&T remains in business, outside of the lock that it has on the iPhone. I just disconnected my long distance and internet service due to very poor service. Half the time my DSL would lock up and AT&T would blame it on my hardware. Left all of it for the Comcast triple play and everything works now as it should. Took that $70 modem AT&T told me to buy, back to Best Buy. They throttle grandfathered users of unlimited data plans, and think that is somehow ethical to do. Their Customer Service is terrible at best, as you continue to go through long hold times and a loop after loop of bots. The one thing that they are good at is billing you for substandard service. You can bet that their billing will be on time every month, regardless of how crappy their service is. 

 

Stephenson can suck it.

post #39 of 76
Quote:
Originally Posted by isaidso View Post
You aren't "forced" to buy a different phone.  Most of those plans all come with free phones.

 

*blink*

 

I want an iPhone. You're misreading what I've written.

Originally posted by Marvin

Even if [the 5.5” iPhone] exists, it doesn’t deserve to.
Reply

Originally posted by Marvin

Even if [the 5.5” iPhone] exists, it doesn’t deserve to.
Reply
post #40 of 76

Been there, doing that right now in Finland and enjoying it. Data only subscriptions are soooooo 2008... 

New Posts  All Forums:Forum Nav:
  Return Home
  Back to Forum: General Discussion
AppleInsider › Forums › General › General Discussion › AT&T CEO says data-only subscriptions 'inevitable' for wireless networks