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Iphone Wireless Networking Apple

iPad Bait and Switch — No More Unlimited Data Plan 670

Posted by kdawson
from the nice-while-it-lasted dept.
_KiTA_ writes "AT&T announced today that the iPhone will gain tethering, finally, at an extra $20 a month, but only for people on a new 2GB a month plan. They also quietly announced at the same time the real news — that the $30 Unlimited Data plan on the iPad 3G will be axed in lieu of the same data plan. Yes, this would be the same 'revolutionary data plan' that Steve Jobs was so proud of during the iPad unveiling — it lasted just a month after the 3G model was delayed to May 7. People feeling vibes of previous Apple iDevice releases are not alone. Existing accounts will be allowed to grandfather in, although Apple has removed the ability to purchase the iPad from the online store at this time, and AT&T has a history of changing its plans without warning. Finally, there is no word on what happens if you ever let your Unlimited plan lapse for a month at this time."
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iPad Bait and Switch — No More Unlimited Data Plan

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  • by SimonTheSoundMan (1012395) on Wednesday June 02, 2010 @08:16AM (#32429782) Homepage

    This has nothing to do with Apple, AT&T are doing this. I doubt Apple knew anything about this.

  • by cybereal (621599) on Wednesday June 02, 2010 @08:31AM (#32429910) Homepage

    Indeed. However it's worth noting that almost all of this information is based on reinterpreted rumor. I wouldn't be surprised to see a clarification within the next week or so that changes some of these details for the iPad.

    iPhone though... well sure. This was a long time coming. I consider myself a moderate data user on 3G (lots of data but no streaming video/audio) and my usage has peaked at 540mb in a month, but usually sits around 300mb. I do all my email, push from work as well, so it's not as though I'm really a light user in disguise. Even better, with the $15 option I can cut my bill because my wife peaks at about 100mb a month usually sitting at about 50mb as she is home most of the time, well in range of Wi-Fi.

    In the end I'll save $20 cutting down plan costs, just enough to enable tethering if I ever need it... though so far, I've never needed such a feature (Wi-Fi is everywhere around here and I don't travel.)

    I do hope there is a clarification on iPad 3G. I can imagine Stevie's inbox is packed with "WTF" letters right now. Given the way the data plans were announced alongside the iPad, I would be surprised if Apple is happy about this change. In fact, one could construe this as an act by AT&T against Apple, supporting the rumors that Apple is going to produce iPhones for competing networks.

    Exciting times!

  • by forand (530402) on Wednesday June 02, 2010 @08:36AM (#32429954) Homepage
    Credit card companies and airlines do these things quite often. Ever get a notice in the mail that your APR on your credit card went up? They just changed the contract. Ever had a flight canceled but be charged to reschedule? They changed the contract on you. All because they reserved the right in the original contract to do so. I am baffled, however, how any such contract can be considered legal and binding, it clearly favors one party to a ludicrous degree and provides no method for a resolution of changes for BOTH parties (one side dictates all the terms).
  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday June 02, 2010 @08:36AM (#32429956)

    Well the N900 probably isn't a problem because you're stuck on 2G. I certainly hope T-mo doesn't follow suit. Since the 1.2 update last Wednesday I've already used 600MB on my N900 and I haven't even been using my phone that much.

  • by cwingrav (8705) on Wednesday June 02, 2010 @08:54AM (#32430124)

    Just checked wife's data usage since she uses her phone constantly. She used 145MBs last month which was the highest since she's had the phone. So, we're going to save $15 a month and not subsidizing the high data users. Also, I'm going to get a phone as I can now tether. I think a lot of people are getting mad before exploring this.

    BTW. Older plans are grandfathered in and according to AT&T are not going to be dropped even when you upgrade to a new phone.

  • by BrokenHalo (565198) on Wednesday June 02, 2010 @09:03AM (#32430230)
    What would be fair would be to ask why in the hell they're sticking with AT&T in the first place

    Maybe Apple likes to keep its customers lubed up for the next time it wants to pound them in the ass.
  • by tepples (727027) <{tepples} {at} {gmail.com}> on Wednesday June 02, 2010 @09:14AM (#32430338) Homepage Journal

    nor is it enforceable.

    It's enforceable if paying what the contract says would cost an individual customer less than hiring a lawyer to get a judge to declare it unenforceable.

  • Always has been... (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Overzeetop (214511) on Wednesday June 02, 2010 @09:19AM (#32430402) Journal

    (on AT&T)
    Tethering has always been more.
    There have always been limits
      -tethering was limited by the TOS
      -a USB modem plan was $55 for 5GB (which is what the iPad is)
      -a USB modem plan was $30 for 200MB
    Apple forced a sweetheart deal on data with the iPhone so it would really shine (can you imagine an iPhone without data?), and AT&T's reputation suffered as a result of the onslaught of data usage.

  • by tekrat (242117) on Wednesday June 02, 2010 @09:24AM (#32430484) Homepage Journal

    If you're limited to 2GB of data, and half of that data turns out to be web-based advertising you don't want, then call up AT&T customer service *every time* you download an ad, and demand a credit to your 2GB limit.

    After all, if you started getting unwanted text messages every time you got on your phone, and you were paying 20 cents per text message, I bet you'd call them up to demand a credit. Or let's say you recieved long, unsolicited sales calls about buying time-shares or something on your cell, which you are paying airtime for, and I bet you'd complain.

    So, the only way to get them to change is to cost them a zillion dollars in customer service time by calling them up EVERY TIME you download an ad. Otherwise, you're paying twice.

  • by Raistlin77 (754120) on Wednesday June 02, 2010 @10:00AM (#32431004)

    ...Do you pay more to your ISP if you connect a router and two different computers?...

    There was a time that every large cable and DSL provider would cripple your connection if they detected a router connected to your modem. For them to un-cripple it (that is, allow the MAC address of your router on their network), many of them charged ridiculous fees. They would often charge more based on the number of computers you told them you were connecting (only idiots were truthful).

  • by protektor (63514) on Wednesday June 02, 2010 @10:07AM (#32431100)

    The reality is in this day and age, all internet pipes are pretty much the same. Or at least they should be unless the company screws up their own network design somehow. The only difference, in reality, is if a network is oversold or not, other than that all networks are the same pretty much. So basically everyone is selling dumb, fat pipes to everyone. The only issue is who actually has more bandwidth and isn't over selling their network and promising you pie in the sky about bandwidth they don't really have.

  • by Miros (734652) on Wednesday June 02, 2010 @10:59AM (#32431854)
    Yes you are correct, it is really just a difference in terminology though, we mean the same thing. If the service they are providing becomes effectively commoditized and they begin competing on price their profit margins will shrink dramatically, possibly even to a level where they will not be able to afford to perform dramatic network upgrades as frequently as they are now. Of course, if that were to happen it would probably only be after the networks provided sufficient bandwidth to satisfy pretty much everyone or a new superior technology had emerged which did not require the massive infrastructure and spectrum investments that the entrenched firms have already made to reach the consumers.
  • by MikeFM (12491) on Wednesday June 02, 2010 @11:09AM (#32431966) Homepage Journal
    I wonder how long until Apple and Google get tired of screwing around with the phone carriers and just buy them out? Apple's market cap is higher than AT&T's and way higher than any of the other mobile carriers. Google already is experimenting with their own networks. They should form a joint venture to buy out and unify mobile carriers so they can package service with their devices. Trying to sell the actual data service is a dying business anyway but if it sells devices and other services it could be a worthwhile purchase. Sell off the parts they don't want and inside of a couple years they could be a serious player. AT&T would be plausible but a big fish but Verizon, T-Mobile, or Sprint would all be pretty easy.

    The real market, besides the devices themselves, is the services related to the devices. It's only a matter of time before cloud storage, on-demand extra processing power, app sells, and even ads are all major sources of income for these mobile devices so throwing in cheap data plans is just a way to get people spending on the other goodies.

    Anyone that thinks Apple or Google aren't pushing for cheaper data plans is just blind. Why do you think Apple was selling the $30/mo unlimited no contract data plan so much? I bet Jobs is pissed at AT&T.
  • by realisticradical (969181) on Wednesday June 02, 2010 @11:18AM (#32432080) Homepage
    AT&T is doing something I've never understood why people let companies get away with. They're charging an extra $20/month for the tethering plan. Tethering is something that the iPhone does by itself it doesn't require any expense at all for AT&T. I could understand their tactic if they were still offering unlimited data plans because you would expect someone who uses their cell phone as a modem for their computer to use a lot more data. That's not what they're doing though, they're selling 2gb of data for $25/month. What's AT&T's excuse exactly? That for tethering users they're worried that people will actually use the data that they're paying for?

    This is one of the reasons companies like to offer "unlimited" one-size-fits-all plans. The plan is unlimited but really it's more like 5gb, and almost nobody actually uses that much, and it's not ok to tether because then you'll be using more than they planned for, and nobody complains because you think of it as a plan that's "unlimited" but only up to the point that a cell phone would be expected to use. (Essentially Comcast and their ilk do the same, my "home" internet is "unlimited" but not exactly and only in the amount and reliability that a home user would expect, and in some ways that's ok.) But when these companies decide to change the plan to "you get 2gb/month" then I damn well expect that my 2gb should be given to me in whatever way I want it.

    There's another little thing in this press release that I'm a fan of. For the 200mb plan (really, 200mb, really?): "If customers exceed 200 MB in a monthly billing cycle, they will receive an additional 200 MB of data usage for $15 for use in the cycle." And for the 2gb plan, "Should a customer exceed 2 GB during a billing cycle, they will receive an additional 1 GB of data for $10 for use in the cycle." Hooray everybody, it's the old Blockbuster late fee model! Use 2.001gb of data in a month pay for 4! Hooray!

  • Re:Abso-fing-lutely (Score:2, Interesting)

    by subsonic (173806) on Wednesday June 02, 2010 @11:35AM (#32432378) Journal

    Or you could have planned a bit and bought the T-mobile 3G compatible Nexus One. you still had a choice and control (not much, but some), and if you realize you made a mistake, returning the phone would only cost you a restocking fee, still much cheaper than having to pay a penalty. And over the two year span that you're NOT paying the premium of the "rent to own" phone you save about$20 per month on your bill. Also, you'll be able to change your plan whenever you want to and not incur an extension of your contract. Not to mention your unlocked phone will work in more places internationally.

  • by CAIMLAS (41445) on Wednesday June 02, 2010 @01:27PM (#32434320) Homepage

    The free market is as much an idealized unattainable as the Star Trek no money communism utopia.

    Oh yeah?

    Success stories like Cogent Communications [wikipedia.org] disagree. They went from literally nothing to a highly valuable multinational corporation in a scant few years. How? Leveraging market economics, innovative ideas, and contempt for contemporary approaches, they turned comms upside down (and pissed off the big dogs in the process).

    If I recall correctly, Schaeffer started Cogent in Omaha, NE due to regional economic benefits, and he has a history of commercial property rentals and a degree in physics. So he came at Cogent out of far left field, but made a very solid go at it using "free market principles".

  • by CAIMLAS (41445) on Wednesday June 02, 2010 @01:45PM (#32434594) Homepage

    How, exactly, would they lose their shirts?

    I get cable service to my house for something just short of $30/month - I don't pay much attention to the bills. It's pretty shoddy service as far as cable is concerned - only 5Mbit/2Mbit.

    But it's under $30. For this cable installation they need to put in:
    * Reels of very expensive copper cable.
    * Fiber between neighborhoods.
    * Relay boxes/aggregators/whatever they call them in each neighborhood.
    * VoIP analog boxes on every house, whether they're using phone service or not.

    All those trucks, cables, "installation specialists", etc. don't come cheap. Oh yeah, and there's no (significant) degradation to service from QoS or port blocking, either (port 80 works just fine).

    Furthermore: it's not like it's just "install and forget" for them. They're constantly uprooting streets to put in new runs/replace old runs, upgrading infrastructure, and the like.

    Oh yeah, I forgot to mention... there's competition in this demographic, albeit just barely. But it exists. And both companies are quite profitable (and growing) despite the relatively small domain in which they operate.

    So what's AT&T's beef that they can't provide Internet ('unlimited' but throttled bandwidth) at twice the cost, with a fraction of the necessary physical infrastructure? Somehow, I doubt maintaining a radio on top of a hill (or licensing the frequency) compares to the costs of landlines. If local radio stations can still afford to operate with only OTA ads, what's ATT's problem? The relative income from $50+/month subscribers is certainly higher than local radio ads.

  • by cervo (626632) on Wednesday June 02, 2010 @03:24PM (#32436040) Journal
    They can get out of this by claiming weather or other factors out of their control.... Similarly they can use these excuses to get out of causing a missed connection....

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