AT&T executive attempts to cool rumors of tiered iPhone data plans

Posted:
in iPhone edited January 2014
An AT&T executive this week made comments to assure customers that the exclusive carrier of the iPhone in the U.S. will not implement tiered data plans.



The comments from Ralph de la Vega, president and CEO of mobility and consumer markets, came just a week after the AT&T official said the company would likely provide incentives to encourage bandwidth-hogging customers to "reduce or modify their usage." What kind of incentives were never made clear, though de la Vega said it is inevitable that high-bandwidth users will be charged for what they consume.



Those comments fueled speculation that the company could move away from its current unlimited data plan available for iPhone users. But in an interview with The Wall Street Journal, de la Vega said his company has no intentions to do so.



"We have not made any decision to implement tiered pricing," he reportedly said.



Instead, AT&T plans to make more free Wi-Fi hotspots available for mobile customers. The feature was introduced last year to great success. Following the introduction of iPhone OS 3.0, AT&T saw 15 million users connect to its Wi-Fi network in one quarter alone this year. The company offers more than 20,000 hotspots.



AT&T also noted it is investing in "femtocells" that use a home Internet connection and serve as a mini cellular tower. That product was tested earlier this year in Charlotte, N.C. The device reportedly offers 3.2Mbit/sec 3G service to users in their home.



Through both of these methods, AT&T hopes it can relieve some of the pressure on its network that has caused issues. Issues with dropped calls and spotty reception have led to bad publicity for the carrier, which market leader Verizon has attempted to capitalize on with a series of advertisements.



Earlier this year, the iPhone was referred to as the "Hummer of cellphones" as AT&T's network struggled following the launch of the iPhone 3GS. A report said that the average iPhone user consumes 10 times the bandwidth of a typical smartphone user. Last week, de la Vega noted that 40 percent of AT&T's network capacity is consumed by just 3 percent of smartphone users.
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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 34
    How exactly is AT&T "investing" in femtocells?



    They make customers buy them, then make customers pay monthly to use them, and make customers use their own (the customers) internet connection for voice and data transport. This is the OPPOSITE of investment.



    This is suckering your customers into paying you EXTRA for the privilege of being able to use their cell phone in places they frequent, but that you couldn't be bothered to actually provide coverage at.
  • Reply 2 of 34
    ktappektappe Posts: 808member
    I'm all for AT&T "investing" in providing me a Femtocell to install in my house so I can get more than 1 bar of coverage and end the constant dropped calls. I'm so interested I might just try calling them up and asking them to send me one gratis. I don't expect them to but hey, why not ask? Seems to me it'd be cheaper than them upgrading their local tower which they don't seem inclined to do....



    As for the tiered pricing, I'm actually for it. Let them continue to offer unlimited data at the current rate. But offer a discount if the customer is willing to accept a cap. Everyone's happy.
  • Reply 3 of 34
    Hey, AT&T. How about letting your mobile users use your WiFi hotspots free with their notebooks like your high speed Internet customers get to. I bet that would help your precious 3G network out a bit.
  • Reply 4 of 34
    Good thing I have no issues with my iPhone ever. Great 3G, 850 Mhz spectrum and solid data speeds.
  • Reply 5 of 34
    mstonemstone Posts: 11,510member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by ktappe View Post


    As for the tiered pricing, I'm actually for it. Let them continue to offer unlimited data at the current rate. But offer a discount if the customer is willing to accept a cap. Everyone's happy.



    That would suit me just fine as well.



    I just got back from 2 weeks in Central America where I had the data roaming turned off the whole time. Since almost every where I went I was able to get WiFi there was only a couple times when I thought to use data but forgot I was not on WiFi. Once I wanted to use Shazam while at a bar to figure out the name of a song that was playing, so not really mission critical. The Google map detail is just pathetic down there so nothing missed in that regard either.



    Bottom line is, I could live with a really small data plan even here in the states since I'm usually on WiFi except for the maps deal which I do use from time to time while out and about.
  • Reply 6 of 34
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by mstone View Post


    That would suit me just fine as well.



    I just got back from 2 weeks in Central America where I had the data roaming turned off the whole time. Since almost every where I went I was able to get WiFi there was only a couple times when I thought to use data but forgot I was not on WiFi. Once I wanted to use Shazam while at a bar to figure out the name of a song that was playing, so not really mission critical. The Google map detail is just pathetic down there so nothing missed in that regard either.



    Bottom line is, I could live with a really small data plan even here in the states since I'm usually on WiFi except for the maps deal which I do use from time to time while out and about.



    That would be great actually, but not going to happen. The reason is, they wouldn't be able to offer a discount on less data (their collective conscience would have a complete meltdown.) Regardless of what they say PR-wise, they'd love to gouge heavy users....hell, anyone that uses at all really. They will start at $30, and go up.



    I'm never over 200MB a month, ever. Generally I'm usually near WiFi. No need to use the 3G that much really. Bring on the discounts AT&T

    They probably have that figured out by now, hence the backtracking. Do note, however, he did say, "We have not made any decision to implement tiered pricing." Meaning they haven't announced it yet, not that it isn't in the works. Don't expect it to be cheap when it happens, we've skated under the Verizon pricing standards this far, it's got to end at some point.
  • Reply 7 of 34
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by AppleZilla View Post


    Hey, AT&T. How about letting your mobile users use your WiFi hotspots free with their notebooks like your high speed Internet customers get to. I bet that would help your precious 3G network out a bit.



    I'm missing something here. These laptops don't use AT&T's 3g network anyway, how does providing them free access to AT&T wifi offload data from the AT&T wireless network exactly?
  • Reply 8 of 34
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by StLBluesFan View Post


    I'm missing something here. These laptops don't use AT&T's 3g network anyway, how does providing them free access to AT&T wifi offload data from the AT&T wireless network exactly?



    A couple ways,



    1) Mobile iPhone users wouldn't use their phones to surf the web or do online services



    2) Allow them to get iPhone users used to the idea of using hotspots instead of using their iPhone to tether when they allow it (if ever).



    I think allowing iPhone users to access the hotspots with laptops is an excellent idea, although in the short term I don't think it will solve any bandwidth issues, but long term I see it helping. Not to mention good PR.
  • Reply 9 of 34
    al_bundyal_bundy Posts: 1,525member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by StLBluesFan View Post


    I'm missing something here. These laptops don't use AT&T's 3g network anyway, how does providing them free access to AT&T wifi offload data from the AT&T wireless network exactly?







    Then people won't have to jailbreak and tether. ATT is making them do these things
  • Reply 10 of 34
    SCREW OFF AT&T!!





    The third party phone services that use AT&T networks have been hit with higher fee's to begin the first of the year.



    These third party phone companies have already passed the costs onto the users in a clever way.



    Not only do they charge for outgoing calls, BUT NOW INCOMING CALLS AS WELL!!!





    It's because AT&T didn't build a fat pipe and grow into it, rather implementing petty ass little upgrades, like 2G to 3G then faster 3G and no sign of 4G what so ever.



    So now WE ALL HAVE TO PAY AND PAY AND PAY!!! Because of more demand on less pipe.



    So instead of getting cheaper voice via third party, one has to pay profits to AT&T AND the third party phone companies, making it MORE THAN AT&T HIGH PRICES ALONE!!





    It's really hitting the poor hard, not that I'm poor, I need a disposable phone because I fish on the ocean, it kills phones fast.



    I'm looking at Skype and a iPod Touch now, a waterproof case?



    Dear me, I spent $80 in minutes the last two weeks alone when before I only spent $15 a month!!



    ARGGG!!!





    iPhone users: DROWN AT&T NETWORKS NOW!!!





    AT&T is following Apple, REDLINING!



    Redlining in the sense that they are cherry picking only the profitable income brackets and sticking it to everyone else.



    Apple is too blame for this as well.
  • Reply 11 of 34
    blastdoorblastdoor Posts: 2,440member
    Charging more for using more, charging less for using less -- what a crazy idea! I'm so relieved that AT&T has squashed this wild rumor.
  • Reply 12 of 34
    How can they call the iPhone the "Hummer" of smart phones?



    No one clocks usage on the other smartphones because you can't do anything with them.. that's hardly a fair comparison.. Oh and bring on the tiered data plans so long as they start at $15.
  • Reply 13 of 34
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by doc362 View Post


    How can they call the iPhone the "Hummer" of smart phones?



    No one clocks usage on the other smartphones because you can't do anything with them.. that's hardly a fair comparison.. Oh and bring on the tiered data plans so long as they start at $15.



    It's the Hummer compared to everything else. So yes, the comparison is valid, because every other car's fuel consumption seems to be insignificant compared to a Hummer's (obviously they haven't watched Top Gear though, because those cars are the real drinkers).



    Yup, and the problem there is that the telcos love profit. So I think de la Vega realizes that he's basically asking his company to give up its profit margin slightly, and for obvious reasons he can't. In fact he was the one saying that profit margins would go up despite the increased investment in the network because of the iPhone. Really? So let's get this straight... he says better profit margins, more cost passing onto customers, and... AT&T is still riding on the coattails of the iPhone and its subscribers. Exactly who besides him and AT&T does this benefit? Not me, you, or anyone else.. I would gladly love a $15 or even $10 data plan, but in all likelihood, this is AT&T, so let's be realistic. They'll take you for all you're worth and give you about 500MB for a month for about $20 a month. And then after all the resulting bad PR probably raise that to 1GB a month. And then see that most of their customers have flocked to T-Mobile (after it's gotten the iPhone), which doesn't have such terrible customer service and treats its customers like bad chaff.
  • Reply 14 of 34
    docno42docno42 Posts: 3,551member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Aurchon View Post


    I think allowing iPhone users to access the hotspots with laptops is an excellent idea, although in the short term I don't think it will solve any bandwidth issues, but long term I see it helping. Not to mention good PR.



    I dunno, the best thing for me about the iPhone is I don't have to carry a laptop. Hence the crush on AT&T's network.
  • Reply 15 of 34
    docno42docno42 Posts: 3,551member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by bartfat View Post


    I would gladly love a $15 or even $10 data plan, but in all likelihood, this is AT&T, so let's be realistic.



    And Verizion and Sprint. I don't understand why people want to single out AT&T for pricing when they are hardly unique in their data plan for smartphones.



    Heck, I paid more per month for my "smartphone" on Sprint that I used significantly less!



    And yes, you can get less per month on TMobile, but then again if you think AT&T's network coverage is insufficient, you really aren't going to like TMobile - so I would expect a discount.
  • Reply 16 of 34
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by DocNo42 View Post


    And Verizion and Sprint. I don't understand why people want to single out AT&T for pricing when they are hardly unique in their data plan for smartphones.



    Heck, I paid more per month for my "smartphone" on Sprint that I used significantly less!



    And yes, you can get less per month on TMobile, but then again if you think AT&T's network coverage is insufficient, you really aren't going to like TMobile - so I would expect a discount.



    Agreed, AT&T is actually really inexpensive for their current plans. Verizon's cost for the Droid is $132 for 450 minutes and internet access. You can pay $99, but it's e-mail only data. Total crap.
  • Reply 17 of 34
    AT&T better start offering better rates and service.



    I get way too many dropped calls, bad coverage and non-existent data service in peak hours. And i am in LOS ANGELES.



    sorry ATT, but your Microcell is taking a crazy long time, i can't even plug the holes in your bad coverage if i tried.



    I have no clue why ATT can't get it up and running when all the other major carriers have a FemtoCell. Microcell with GPS built in? why? no other carriers do that.



    I can't even buy one from the beta test and put it into place where i live in Cali.



    ATT blows and its only getting worse. they are complacent in their mediocrity and poor service.
  • Reply 18 of 34
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by technohermit View Post


    Agreed, AT&T is actually really inexpensive for their current plans. Verizon's cost for the Droid is $132 for 450 minutes and internet access. You can pay $99, but it's e-mail only data. Total crap.



    Sprint and t-mobile have better pricing on all you can eat plans. way better than Verizon and ATT. which lead the way in high prices for all the different components of what you need. SMS plan, Data Plan, Minutes plan.
  • Reply 19 of 34
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by al_bundy View Post


    Then people won't have to jailbreak and tether. ATT is making them do these things



    I hate to say it, but it's apple who is forcing the jailbreaking as well. Strictly from a networking standloint: The youtube app on 3G has horribly compressed videos that are basically non-watchable. You can't download updates or podcasts over 10GB. These requirements may have been pushed back from AT&T, but they exist in apple code.



    3G unlocker fixes that problem nicely. You can now watch youtube videos with the standard crappy compression rather than the ne-plus-ultra extra crappy compression.



    BTW here in a fly-over state my AT&T coverage is outstanding. Full bars all the time, solid 3G whenever I'm in any city. Edge when I'm out in the country. Rarely drop calls etc.



    Sheldon
  • Reply 20 of 34
    pmzpmz Posts: 3,433member
    Realistically, AT&T does have the network capacity for the current number of iPhone subscribers, let alone another year of new iPhones.



    At this point I blame Apple. They need to know the status of their customer's experience, and be realistic about the inconsistencies of AT&T. To solve this problem in the short term, offer the damn iPhone on more carriers in the U.S. and the user base will naturally spread itself out the way a healthy market with competition DOES.



    This would quickly lighten the load on AT&T's network, and improvements to the network might begin to out pace the consumption growth.
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