AT&T considering lower-cost, capped data for iPhone, others

Posted:
in iPhone edited January 2014
Hoping to spur take up of smartphones at a time when subscribers are very sensitive to price, AT&T has signaled that it's willing to give these devices, including the iPhone, lower data rates in exchange for limits on usage.



The carrier's wireless chief, Ralph de la Vega, remarked this week at the Reuters Global Technology Summit that he could see AT&T setting a cap on the amount of data used in a given month in return for a lower fee. One example, though not necessarily what AT&T would use, is the company's netbook strategy: while the mini notebooks still have access to the usual 5GB monthly data plan, subscribers can pay $20 less per month if they're willing to put the cap at 200MB before overage fees kick in.



iPhones were mentioned by the executive as possibly affected by any switch in strategy but that it wasn't Apple's device alone that would prompt demand. Instead, smartphone adoption in a difficult climate was the important concern.



"Right now we continue to study what is the best thing that is available, not just from an iPhone point of view, but what you can do to stimulate additional demand," de la Vega said.



The news echoes rumors that, among other things, AT&T may offer a $20 iPhone data plan that would save customers $10 a month but put a ceiling on data access.



De la Vega ruled out simply cutting the price without restrictions on Internet use, however. AT&T recently declared itself the leader in smartphones and has steadily become more reliant on data as a source of income. The provider's goal is to make money on services, he said, and with the iPhone's price already being heavily subsidized, dropping the price would only hurt AT&T's bottom line.



Such a strategy would be unique in the United States but isn't uncharacteristic of carriers in other nations such as Belgium or Canada, where more bandwidth is used as a lure to step up to more expensive plans.
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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 54
    bageljoeybageljoey Posts: 1,726member
    That is quite a spread. $30 for unlimited (5GB) --OR-- $20 for 200MB (+ overage fees)



    My guess is that the vast majority of people would fall somewhere inbetween meaning that this option is (a) useless or (b) going to cause people to be paranoid about using data and therefore have a more negative smartphone experience or (c) end up paying more with overage charges.
  • Reply 1 of 54
    mactrippermactripper Posts: 1,328member
    AT&T needs to build a much faster network to begin with, instead of nickle and dime upgrades.



    We were just at Edge (2.5G), then 3G and now 4G is coming.



    Despite how much I love Apple, I'm not buying a new iPhone every year, sorry.



    Just build a 100G network and sell the extra bandwidth.



    Done.
  • Reply 3 of 54
    What about cutting down the minutes of the call plans? I barely use 100 minutes a months, there is more than 4000 minutes rolled over from my last year and they expire as I really don't use them. I would welcome 200 minute voice plan plus unlimited data. With family plan for 2 phones I just pay for the service not needed. I wait until my 2 years are over and switch to prepaid if nothing changes.
  • Reply 4 of 54
    derevderev Posts: 64member
    I would like to know how much a webpage data (filesize) the average iphone/smartphone uses and does it cache or reload on a refresh. Size DOES matter.
  • Reply 5 of 54
    mstonemstone Posts: 11,510member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by gabberattack View Post


    What about cutting down the minutes of the call plans? I barely use 100 minutes a months, there is more than 4000 minutes rolled over from my last year and they expire as I really don't use them. I would welcome 200 minute voice plan plus unlimited data. With family plan for 2 phones I just pay for the service not needed. I wait until my 2 years are over and switch to prepaid if nothing changes.



    I'm similar in my usage patterns. I would prefer that there was no distinction between voice data messaging etc, it is all just bandwidth. They should charge just like ISPs.



    edit: I mean ISP like in commercial broadband I pay x per meg of data used
  • Reply 6 of 54
    christopher126christopher126 Posts: 3,921member
    i'm getting really close to not continuing my iPhone in June ($100/month)...I have the first gen. iPhone but am considering going back to my ATT free regular phone and only checking my email on my desktop once in the AM and once in the PM and saving $40-$50/month!



    Or replace my iMac with next gen. MBA and a 24" monitor to have the MBA for travel.
  • Reply 7 of 54
    bloggerblogbloggerblog Posts: 1,732member
    screw AT&T, Apple should give them a little competition and sell the iPhone through Sprint or Verizon.



    AT&T claimed to not provide tethering on the iPhone because a computer should have a different 3G plan. Yet they claim that they didn't want SlingPlayer on their 3G network because they consider the iPhone as a computer even though, the SlingPlayer app is available on other AT&T phones.



    Which one is it now? Is the iPhone a cell-phone or a computer? AT&T seems to be constantly re-categorizing the iPhone to fill their pockets.



    A little competition will surely set that straight.
  • Reply 8 of 54
    charlitunacharlituna Posts: 7,163member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by bloggerblog View Post


    screw AT&T, Apple should give them a little competition and sell the iPhone through Sprint or Verizon.





    at this point they can't. contract and all that. not to mention the issue of not all carriers use GSM and Apple's not likely to waste the time and money on making a CDMA supporting model of the phone.



    however, if ATT has any smarts they are going to do something with the rates or risk losing folks when they can legally move companies. I actually like the idea of a low use data plan for those that are more often on wifi for checking email and such. Toss in the old free 200 messages text plan from iphone1 and knock unlimited down to $10-15 and they could have something worth sticking with while they deal with coverage and such
  • Reply 9 of 54
    cameronjcameronj Posts: 2,357member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Bageljoey View Post


    That is quite a spread. $30 for unlimited (5GB) --OR-- $20 for 200MB (+ overage fees)



    My guess is that the vast majority of people would fall somewhere inbetween meaning that this option is (a) useless or (b) going to cause people to be paranoid about using data and therefore have a more negative smartphone experience or (c) end up paying more with overage charges.



    That's because the incremental data do not cost ATT hardly anything. Thus, ATT is only willing to give up a tiny bit of the profit when the data usage goes way down. Allowing a lower usage plan only loses ATT revenue, it doesn't reduce costs at all.
  • Reply 10 of 54
    cameronjcameronj Posts: 2,357member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by gabberattack View Post


    What about cutting down the minutes of the call plans? I barely use 100 minutes a months, there is more than 4000 minutes rolled over from my last year and they expire as I really don't use them. I would welcome 200 minute voice plan plus unlimited data. With family plan for 2 phones I just pay for the service not needed. I wait until my 2 years are over and switch to prepaid if nothing changes.



    Would you be willing to take 75% less minutes for 25% less price? Because that's the only way ATT would do it.
  • Reply 11 of 54
    fraklincfraklinc Posts: 244member
    Bad for AT&T and pretty good for me. My phone sits on WiFi 80% of the time, At work and at home, not to mention how terrible and slow AT&T 3G service is and am in a great coverage area, but if it goes like 200MB for $20 & $30 ill stick with the unlimited. $20 for 500MB of super slow AT&T 3G seems fair though.
  • Reply 12 of 54
    a_greera_greer Posts: 4,594member
    If 5 GB is $40, then $20 should buy 2.5 GB or at least 1GB...I am just jealous as I use about 250 MB/Mo...I need the cap to be higher than 200
  • Reply 13 of 54
    solipsismsolipsism Posts: 25,726member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by bloggerblog View Post


    screw AT&T, Apple should give them a little competition and sell the iPhone through Sprint or Verizon.



    AT&T claimed to not provide tethering on the iPhone because a computer should have a different 3G plan. Yet they claim that they didn't want SlingPlayer on their 3G network because they consider the iPhone as a computer even though, the SlingPlayer app is available on other AT&T phones.



    Which one is it now? Is the iPhone a cell-phone or a computer? AT&T seems to be constantly re-categorizing the iPhone to fill their pockets.



    A little competition will surely set that straight.



    You are mixing some stuff here. AT&T has partnered with Apple so you can?t just buy a cellphone anymore and tether it to your PC without the carrier?s knowledge. There was no software built into the iPhone to allow it the earlier and current versions of iPhone OS X. With version 3.0 there will be the ability to tether your iPhone, I do it all the time but it will surely be locked up before launch and will require you to pay extra for tethering. I?d guess about $30/month more to equal the current $60/month unlimited data plan AT&T sells for PC connections. This will save me money eveery month.



    The other thing about whether the iPhone is a phone or a computer is silly. It?s both. And don?t be daft and say that it can?t be both. Cellphones have not evolved very quickly since the release of the iPhone and their new wording (which is still poorly worded) covers the iPhone and every other smartphone they sell and will sell in the future. The networks are much faster, the phone HW much more powerful and the software more capable that they are using a lot more data than every before. Now that the iPhone has made it mandatory that a smartphone can?t just be business or geek gadget, but must have media capabilities, streaming video is a must. Before I had tethering I used 3-10GB a month on my iPhone, now I?m used over 80GB last month.



    You can say that you paid for unlimited data so you can do whatever the hell you want with it, but you also would have signed a contract stating that you won?t do certain things. The alternative for AT&T is to actually use the 5GB soft cap (which they?ve never enforced on me) or to simply charge a lot more for the data assuming you are going to use it out of contract anyway.
  • Reply 14 of 54
    a_greera_greer Posts: 4,594member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by mstone View Post


    I'm similar in my usage patterns. I would prefer that there was no distinction between voice data messaging etc, it is all just bandwidth. They should charge just like ISPs.



    edit: I mean ISP like in commercial broadband I pay x per meg of data used



    There is a strong case to justify voice as premium pricing...QoS If a packet or two drop when loading a web page, you spend a few microseconds waiting on a retransmit, if those packets are dropped on voice calls, you get some gargling at best, or a drop at worst, so you are paying for a much higher level of priority for voice data.
  • Reply 15 of 54
    solipsismsolipsism Posts: 25,726member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by a_greer View Post


    If 5 GB is $40, then $20 should buy 2.5 GB or at least 1GB...I am just jealous as I use about 250 MB/Mo...I need the cap to be higher than 200



    The total price to get you the data doesn?t work that way, but the price-to-data is definitely off. They want to get you to buy the larger data packages.



    PS: Personally, I think it would be a good marketing tool to offer a sliding scale for data, SMS and phone packages which allow you to start with a lower package, but if you go over it, it merely bumps you up to the next tier pricing, not the outrageous overage fees that have parents being charged tens-of-thousands of dollars because they didn?t get the $15 unlimited SMS package on their kid?s phone. However, if you go over you are automatically kept in that tier the following month and thy could charge you a small fee for having to bump your plan up. They could easily run the numbers to make the tiers divides as much in their favour a possible to see where people use the most. This kind of thing would certainly make me interested in a carrier knowing that the most I?ll pay in a month is the unlimited everything plan.
  • Reply 16 of 54
    solipsismsolipsism Posts: 25,726member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by a_greer View Post


    There is a strong case to justify voice as premium pricing...QoS If a packet or two drop when loading a web page, you spend a few microseconds waiting on a retransmit, if those packets are dropped on voice calls, you get some gargling at best, or a drop at worst, so you are paying for a much higher level of priority for voice data.



    And the cost of data is different between a type of wired service and a type of wireless service. We certainly can?t expect to pay less for cell data simply because it?s slower data than FIOS.
  • Reply 17 of 54
    mstonemstone Posts: 11,510member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by a_greer View Post


    There is a strong case to justify voice as premium pricing...QoS If a packet or two drop when loading a web page, you spend a few microseconds waiting on a retransmit, if those packets are dropped on voice calls, you get some gargling at best, or a drop at worst, so you are paying for a much higher level of priority for voice data.



    I do a fair amount of international work where we use SKYPE so I know what is sounds like when the throughput is borderline but I can tolerate the voice drop out especially since cells connections drop all the time anyway and in that case you have to redial where on IP you just have to repeat what you said.



    m
  • Reply 18 of 54
    code4funcode4fun Posts: 13member
    This is a good step since it shows AT&T is willing to work something out with the ocassional data users such as myself. I might actually upgrade from 1st gen iPhone now. However, most sites have large images that's going to eat up a lot of this 200MB limit fast so they need to bump that up some. The popular sites will have something like 40-60 images piggybacked per page. If all they give is 200MB cap, then there better be provisions that stops accessing data once they reach that limit.
  • Reply 19 of 54
    macxpressmacxpress Posts: 4,245member
    If they could make a special plan for me I'd take about 200 minutes with about 1 GB of data per month for around $30-$40. But the world doesn't revolve around me so I guess it doesn't matter.



    I don't really make a lot of phone calls because of AT&T's crappy coverage. I actually use mine more for the internet than anything else. And I mean internet where there isn't WiFi available so no, an iPod Touch wouldn't be a better solution.
  • Reply 20 of 54
    solipsismsolipsism Posts: 25,726member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by macxpress View Post


    If they could make a special plan for me I'd take about 200 minutes with about 1 GB of data per month for around $30-$40. But the world doesn't revolve around me so I guess it doesn't matter.



    I don't really make a lot of phone calls because of AT&T's crappy coverage. I actually use mine more for the internet than anything else. And I mean internet where there isn't WiFi available so no, an iPod Touch wouldn't be a better solution.



    Sing me up for that low minute plan. I use so many minutes that If could pay for just a data plan and zero plan minutess with each one costing their max I?d probably make out.
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