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Mixed Reception To AT&T's New Data Pricing Scheme 514

Posted by Soulskill
from the infinite-monkeys-streaming-infinite-shakespeare dept.
Several readers have sent in followups to Wednesday's news that AT&T was eliminating its unlimited data plan. Glenn Derene at Popular Mechanics defends the new plan, writing, "Imagine, for a moment, if we bought electricity the way we buy data in this country. Every month, you would pay a fixed amount of money (say, $120), and then you would use as much electricity as you wanted, with an incentive to use as much as you could. That brings price stability to the end user, but it's a horrible way to manage electricity load." Others point out that this will likely engender more scrutiny from regulatory agencies and watchdog groups. A Computerworld article says that one way or the other, AT&T's decision is a huge deal for the mobile computing industry, influencing not only how other carriers look at data rates, but how content providers and advertisers will need to start thinking about a data budget if they want consumers to keep visiting their sites. AT&T, responding to criticism, has decided to allow iPad buyers to use the old, unlimited plan as long as they order before June 7, and Gizmodo has raised the question of "rollover bytes."
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Mixed Reception To AT&T's New Data Pricing Scheme

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  • Last byte? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Chas (5144) on Friday June 04, 2010 @06:19PM (#32464562) Homepage Journal

    No AT&T?
    No Apple iWhatever?

    NO PROBLEMS!

    • Re:Last byte? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Mordok-DestroyerOfWo (1000167) on Friday June 04, 2010 @06:34PM (#32464702)
      But how long until the other players decide that AT&T shouldn't be the only ones with their customers over a barrel? We saw it with the increase in text messaging rates. When one company screws their customers in the name of profit, the others will soon follow suit.
  • Rent (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Scrameustache (459504) on Friday June 04, 2010 @06:23PM (#32464594) Homepage Journal

    Imagine, for a moment, if we bought real estate the way we buy electricity. We'd have a punch card at the door to record when we go out, and when we go in...

    • Re:Rent (Score:4, Insightful)

      by rolfwind (528248) on Friday June 04, 2010 @06:55PM (#32464914)

      That's analogy makes no sense. All your shit is still in the place whether you're there or not. Your rent is based on two things - location and space ("amount used"). If you want a 5 bedroom house, 4 baths, etcetera, it's going to be a damn sight more expensive than 1 room studio. To make your analogy work, hotel rooms would have to be used and it still breaks down.

      I think the A&TT change sucks. If you're work and home have wifi, you'll likely be below 200MB per month... but if not, you'll seriously need the 2GB plan. But there are still people who want unlimited. Unlimited doesn't mean unlimited data like someone posted comparing it to an unlimited electric plan. Unlimited in this case means you could download 24/7 on the limited bandwith on the phone. In analogy to electricity, you could easily have an "unlimited" plan, because even the 100/200 amp wire into your house has a "bandwidth" limit of the amount of electricity it can pull at any one time. From there, the electric company just has to figure the average people on unlimited plans actually pull down and adjust their rates to profit from that.

      It's not unfeasible, although it will incentivize everyone to switch to electric heat and leave the AC running 24/7 as well as the lights and TV. Of course, if the unlimited electric plan was $499 per month, most people would opt per kwh. OTOH, I dont see that much of a big deal about having a data pipe open 24/7.

    • Depends on how you use real estate. Personally, I don't want just anyone in my house any time, so this is how I pay (I pay for each hour I use the house, that is, every hour of the month). But if you would be willing to let anyone else pay an hourly rate to use your house with the stuff, then, yes, this is how it would work, and I think that would be ideal actually!

  • by mayko (1630637) on Friday June 04, 2010 @06:23PM (#32464596)
    Then price it like electricity. Does anyone pre-pay for electricity?

    Fortunately my power company doesn't rape my wallet if I use a few extra watts. At 25 dollars per 2gb then they should only charge you .0122 dollars per mb you go over right? Hell they should just charge you that rate regardless of what plan you buy.
    • by Rakishi (759894)

      My electricity company ramps up charges as you use more. Sort of like how taxes work.

    • by IANAAC (692242) on Friday June 04, 2010 @06:46PM (#32464844)
      I belong to a coop for my electricity, and yes, we do pre-pay, in a way. We pay 31 bucks a month for a set amount of kilowatt hours, and if we go over, we get charged more.

      The big difference between electricity and cellphone data charges though, is that if I see I'm going substantially over my limit - very easy to do in the summer - then I can self-regulate, by not using power hogs like air conditioners. Or I can split my load to partial electricity and partial propane (which is ALWAYS prepaid in these parts). That's very hard to do with data consumption. I mean, say you visit a specific news site every day. Not unreasonable. But how do you know what's going to be on the page from one day to the next?

    • Most electricity suppliers have a "connection fee" you pay before you use a single kilowatt. My supplier (Pedernales Electric Coop) has a particularly bad connection fee of $22 per month. Your point is partially valid though. A reasonable base fee (say $10/month) plus an appropriate per gigabyte usage fee (say $2 or $3/GB) would be great.

    • Also, do you have to buy a separate electrical plan per each appliance, and then get locked into a 2-year deal with your electricity plan?

      Oh, and also electricity is heavily regulated because it's a utility. Are cell phone carriers prepared to be treated that way?

    • Per the ToS:

      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

      While it would be nicer if they billed in smaller chunks, they charge you 0.0100 dollars per megabyte over. The overage actually costs less than the first two gigabytes.

      Though even that seems impossibly high for bandwidth in the middle of a city. Who would pay $1 to watch a clip on YouTube, or $5 to watch a video on Hulu? Who would pay $30 a month to listen to Pandora for an hour a day? Cheap or unlimited data plans spur the invention of new services. They expand the boundaries of the Inte

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by gringer (252588)

      Does anyone pre-pay for electricity?

      I do. I'm signed up with powershop [powershop.co.nz], which provides various specials that you can purchase in advance to save a bit of money.

      For example, they had a "winter" special, offered three months before the start of winter, and I could purchase blocks of 150 units of electricity over three months of winter (50 units per month). Now that New Zealand is experiencing winter, electricity prices have risen by about 3 cents per unit, so I've saved a bit of money by doing that (about $4 saving, where I could have made abou

  • by HangingChad (677530) on Friday June 04, 2010 @06:30PM (#32464654) Homepage

    Mixed Reception To AT&T's New Data Pricing Scheme

    That's true provided your definition of "mixed reception" encompasses the pitchfork and torch carrying mob ready to storm AT&T headquarters.

  • by gillbates (106458) on Friday June 04, 2010 @06:32PM (#32464682) Homepage Journal

    Imagine, for a moment, if you bought infrastructure equipment, and sold only the capacity you could actually deliver at any given time? Regardless of whether your equipment is fully utilized or underutilized, you still have to pay the cost of the electricity to power it, and the real estate in which it is housed.

    This is why flat pricing models are a good idea. Imagine for a moment if AT&T charged by the byte, and people stopped using all that bandwidth to save money. AT&T's income would decrease, but not their cost of business (hey, they've already bought the equipment, might as well use it...)

    If AT&T charges a flat rate, they can predict their income and plan accordingly. However, if they charge by the byte, then they have to deal with fluctuating income from one quarter to the next. Not only this, but there are perhaps a sizable portion of their customers who will instead try to minimize their costs. With a fixed rate plan, they have no option. But with a pay-per-byte plan, users like me could use their services for pennies a month. AT&T is about to come to terms with the fact that most users will opt for using less bandwidth and forking over less money per month. The reason why people pay so much for data plans is because they have to, not because they want to. Give the people the ability to save money, and they will take advantage of it.

    These kinds of plans have been tried before, and they always fail. Email is cheap, bandwidth-wise, and movies can be had from Netflix for less than the cost of the bandwidth used by the net.

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by GWBasic (900357)

      These kinds of plans have been tried before, and they always fail. Email is cheap, bandwidth-wise, and movies can be had from Netflix for less than the cost of the bandwidth used by the net.

      What are you smoking??? Gasoline, Electricity, and (utility delivered) gas are all charged per-usage! Where I live, gas has a small monthly fee to keep up the pipes, but the vast majority of the bill is usage!

      These kinds of plans work well when customers need an incentive to conserve, and everything I hear from the telcos is that they want us to conserve bandwidth because we use it as fast as they can build it.

    • by fm6 (162816)

      What's special about "infrastructure equipment"? When your grocery store decides how much perishable food to stock, they have to make exactly the same kind of prediction. And yet few stores insist on monthly milk-buying contracts.

      The truth is that a recurring fee is the ultimate wet dream of anybody designing a business model. Harder to do when there's real competition. Which there is in the grocery business.

      And also in the wireless data business almost everywhere outside the U.S. Which is why, contrary to

  • Stupid comparison (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Grishnakh (216268) on Friday June 04, 2010 @06:32PM (#32464684)

    Electricity and other limited resources are NOT like data. The only limitation on an internet connection is bandwidth, which is a rate, rather than an absolute quantity. The comment in the article comparing unlimited data plans to unlimited electricity is just stupid, and shows a complete lack of understanding of basic physics.

    If you burn 1000 kilowatt-hours of electricity (which equals 3.6 billion joules of energy), that energy had to come from a specific quantity of oil, coal, natural gas, or some other limited resource. Generally speaking, if you hadn't wasted that power, the power company would still have that much in natural resources left to use. So every unit of energy carries a dollar cost.

    Data isn't like that. If the connection is present, it costs no more for the internet provider to transmit at maximum bandwidth versus transmitting nothing at all, for a given period of time. You might as well use it. The only limitation is bandwidth, since the "pipe" is only so big, so if everyone is trying to transmit/receive data at the same time, they're going to be limited as they have to share.

    If the ISPs are worried about people hogging bandwidth, there are other ways of dealing with that, such as by limiting their individual bandwidth. For instance, those found to be hogs during peak times can have their bandwidth limited to less than others who are more occasional users. Limiting people to a specific quantity of data is just stupid and greedy. If someone downloads tons of stuff during off-hours, making use of bandwidth that would otherwise go unused, this does not cost the company anything, nor does it inconvenience other customers.

    There is absolutely no reason data providers cannot place transparent bandwidth limits on hogs during peak hours so that everyone can get along, without having to add on any extra fees or hard limits, or causing any inconvenience to other customers.

    • by schwaang (667808)

      Plus, with electricity you have more control over how much you use and consumption is more predictably related to what you do. Whereas the iPhone uses data for all kinds of things without asking you, and it's not predictable.

      Ever travelled overseas w/ an iPhone? It's a *nightmare* to stay within a data budget (like if you pay for a fixed amount of roaming data). Even just receiving a voicemail that you don't listen to uses data. Basically you can either turn data roaming off completely, or play limit ro

    • Re:Stupid comparison (Score:5, Informative)

      by GWBasic (900357) <slashdot@andr[ ] ... m ['ewr' in gap]> on Friday June 04, 2010 @07:40PM (#32465398) Homepage

      Data isn't like that. If the connection is present, it costs no more for the internet provider to transmit at maximum bandwidth versus transmitting nothing at all, for a given period of time. You might as well use it. The only limitation is bandwidth, since the "pipe" is only so big, so if everyone is trying to transmit/receive data at the same time, they're going to be limited as they have to share.

      You're wrong. Radio spectrum is a finite resource; there's no more untapped frequencies. It follows the same economics of energy, which is constrained by how fast we can suck it out of the ground. Radio spectrum is constrained by how smartly we can divide it up.

      If someone downloads tons of stuff during off-hours, making use of bandwidth that would otherwise go unused, this does not cost the company anything, nor does it inconvenience other customers.

      Again, there's still more demand then the bandwidth can handle. What happens as soon as a bunch of people decide to batch up their less-time-sensitive stuff and send it at night? Then nighttime will become constrained. We're already seeing bandwidth peaks at night.

      • by Grishnakh (216268) on Friday June 04, 2010 @07:52PM (#32465510)

        You're wrong. Radio spectrum is a finite resource; there's no more untapped frequencies. It follows the same economics of energy, which is constrained by how fast we can suck it out of the ground. Radio spectrum is constrained by how smartly we can divide it up.

        No, you're missing the point. Radio spectrum is just like internet bandwidth: the absolute amount is infinite, it's only the rate that is limited. Haven't you ever taken a calculus class?

        If I transmit some information over a radio, it only uses up that spectrum during that time. It doesn't reduce the spectrum forever.

        Again, there's still more demand then the bandwidth can handle. What happens as soon as a bunch of people decide to batch up their less-time-sensitive stuff and send it at night? Then nighttime will become constrained. We're already seeing bandwidth peaks at night.

        It doesn't matter. It can all be handled by prioritizing traffic, and giving higher priority to those who use the least bandwidth. People who batch it up and download all at the same time will have the same effect as if they did it during the day: they'll be deprioritized in favor of people who have very low BW utilization.

        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          by hitmark (640295)

          yes, but the radio channel, like the analog long distance phone lines of old, can only carry so many transmission at a time (new ways to vode the data onto the channel keeps upping that number tho).

          end result was that a long distance call was payed by the minute to get people to keep their calls short so the telco didnt have to dig one trench for every person in the world.

          this is so they dont have to set up a cell pr square meter of city.

        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          by blueg3 (192743)

          No, you're missing the point. Radio spectrum is just like internet bandwidth: the absolute amount is infinite, it's only the rate that is limited. Haven't you ever taken a calculus class?

          If I transmit some information over a radio, it only uses up that spectrum during that time.

          Don't criticize people about calculus when you screw up dimensional analysis. Both the radio spectrum and Internet bandwidth measure rates. The total amount of data transmitted is unlimited (essentially). (It's silly to say it's infinite, since that's only over infinite time scales, but it's true that, essentially, no finite resource is consumed by the transit of data.) However, they don't measure the total amount of data transferred, they measure rates. The term "bandwidth", even, comes directly from terms

  • by yossie (93792) on Friday June 04, 2010 @06:32PM (#32464690)

    I woud LOVE it if at&t and, in fact, all phone companies, just charged me a fixed cost per text message, per minute call, per 1M data. A rate that was competitive. This works just fine for the water works, the electric company, the postal service, the toll system on the highway, to name a few.
    I would be OK if they tiered a bit - first 500 minutes talk at $0.05/minute down to $0.03/min till 2000 minutes, etc.. Same with texting, same with data - essentially switching on bulk mode as you "earn it."
    Right now, through "fear" and published horror stories about giant bills, they manage to talk most people into "flat unlimited rate" - show me the person who uses exactly 200M of data, or exactly 900 minutes of talk time. Rollover is sorta nice, but the rules around it are petty and serve to lessen the usefulness (expired minutes, resetting when you change plans, etc..)
    If everyone paid exactly for what they used - you and everyone of us would win. Flat unlimited rate is a great idea, except that it doesn't really save anyone money - unless the resource is unlimited - which bandwidth cannot claim to be - in fact, mathematically and economically speaking, it can't.

  • by pirodude (54707) on Friday June 04, 2010 @06:33PM (#32464694) Homepage

    When you pay your electric bill, you typically pay a flat rate (a connection charge) to your electric company for the transmission system, and a per kwh rate to them to buy electricity from any number of generating plants. Use 1 kwh or 1000kwh, your payment stays the same. Now if you want to jump to the next level (1ph 120v to 3ph 480v) then you pay a higher connection charge, but still don't pay more for your usage for the /transmission/ of the power.

    If you want to follow that model then I'll gladly pay AT&T $5/month for their network transmission services, and a per MB rate that they can pass on to the webmasters and hosts of the websites that I visit.

  • I don't understand why so many people make these analogies between networks and fuel/electricity/etc. AT&T isn't providing the data, they're providing the conduit you use to get it. I'll use the same example I used on the AT&T forums:

    Two people pump x amount of gas each from a fuel pump at the same time. The hose is split so that they can do this simultaneously. This goes relatively quickly.
    One hundred people pump x amount of gas each from a second fuel pump at the same time. Again, the ho
    • by ZosX (517789)

      Yeah....BUT if you have 200 people on one hose you should be able to afford a bigger hose.

  • FTS:

    "Imagine, for a moment, if we bought electricity the way we buy data in this country. Every month, you would pay a fixed amount of money (say, $120), and then you would use as much electricity as you wanted, with an incentive to use as much as you could. That brings price stability to the end user, but it's a horrible way to manage electricity load."

    That analogy doesn't work, because the main constraint for electricity isn't network capacity, it's the fact that most current methods of production consume

  • by gearloos (816828) on Friday June 04, 2010 @06:37PM (#32464740)
    "Imagine, for a moment, if we bought electricity the way we buy data in this country" Well Bozo, going by that analogy, then AT&T shouldn't get any of the money as they aren't the one who is generating the data. Like Electricity, they would then have to buy data from every computer owner who is connected on the web as they would now be a "Data Generation Station". So, lets see when AT&T decides to pay PopSci or Popular Mechanics for the pleasure of transmission of their data. Right...
    • by Qzukk (229616)

      Heck, if we talked about how we bought wired data until recently, the comparison would be that you'd be sold an unlimited electrical plan, but if you used more than 90 volts you got an angry letter from the ISP and executives claiming that you were hogging the wires while congressmen pontificated about tubes.

      At least with metered billing we can discuss limits and such in a sane and rational matter.

  • BS like this keeps me from graduating from my pay-as-you-go phone where I average ~$10/mo to something snazzier that would immediately jump to ~$100/mo. The plans don't scale well at all to really light users like me who would enjoy the niftier phones, but had the gang rape every month when my 30 minutes of calls and couple email checks would still cost me ~$100.

    Sadly sooner or later AT&T and the like will eventually find a quiet way to collude and make pay-as-you-go suck bad enough, or drive the price

  • by techmuse (160085) on Friday June 04, 2010 @06:38PM (#32464754)

    The plan is just a way for AT&T to get rid of its least profitable customers. These are the ones who actually *use* the network capacity that they pay for. Most people are light users. They pay a lot of money but don't actually use much capacity. AT&T loves these people, because it's essentially free money. The ones who actually use the service are not very profitable, because AT&T has to provide capacity for them. (Capacity isn't needed if you don't use the network!) So rather than expanding capacity to match demand, they're making it economically infeasible to *use* the capacity that you pay for.

    AT&T claims that most people use less than 2 GB/month. That's great, but that's partly because of the lack of good applications for most smartphones. (iPhone users use much more than half the data on the network.) Imagine if AT&T had imposed a cap based on what most people used in 1993. The web would have no pictures. You couldn't afford them. If they based it on what people used in 1996, the web would have no audio or video. You couldn't afford it. Same with most applications used today, network based software distribution, Skype, and many other things we take for granted. The cap makes higher bandwidth applications unaffordable for most users, and will seriously stifle the development of new technologies for mobile device.

    This is a truly bad idea...

  • I've had an iPhone for a year and a half. I love it, but for the last six months (the months I could review) I never even got up to 100MB per month. I use the phone all the time, but often within WiFi range.

    I'd rather pay half as much to get what is still more than double my normal usage. It would also discourage casual youtube streaming and thus probably improve network speed for everyone.

    The one thing I'd REALLY want from AT&T (and Apple) is an app that reliably monitors billable bytes in a billing pe

    • Me too! Part of that is the slow speed of AT&T 3G, which makes anything other than email or simple browsing painfully slow. But I will be happy to save the $15/month with zero impact on my usage. Most of the heavy users I see posting on forums about this say they do stuff like continuously streaming audio all day, using their phone as a radio. Whatever floats your boat.

    • by h4rr4r (612664)

      Upgrading the network would improve the speed while actually letting you use the service you pay for. Casual youtube streaming is why you pay them. Bandwidth is not some resource that must be conserved.

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      Download the AT&T app. You can log in, pay your bill, and see how much data, minutes, and texts you've used in this billing period.

  • From a business perspective, this is the golden egg: 1) If you use less than your total minutes, you've overpaid = more money for the company 2) If you go over your minutes you pay an exorbitant overage charge = more money for the company Of course, it shanks the customer.
  • Some early toasters didn't come with the traditional two-pronged plug. Instead, you had to unscrew a light bulb and screw in the toaster's plug. Why? Because the electric company charged more for general-purpose outlets! Prior to metered billing, people paid for electricity by the number of fixtures and their estimated electric use. Everything became sane once the electric companies introduced metered billing.

    Anyway, AT&T's $20 / month tethering plan is just going to make me switch when my contract is up. Charge me for the bandwidth that I use, not for the device!

  • by Logic Bomb (122875) on Friday June 04, 2010 @06:40PM (#32464780)

    The ridiculous part is that they're still charging a fee to enable tethering. That sort of makes sense with an "unlimited" plan. Presumably, the plan price was based on an estimate of how much data you'd use. Since tethering will obviously drive up usage, that assumption is no longer valid. (This highlights the absurdity of so-called "unlimited" plans that aren't really.)

    But now that you are paying for actual use, there's no excuse to charge anything for tethering. You've paid for 2 GB (or whatever), and it shouldn't matter how it gets used. If you use more, you pay more.

    I'd really like to see a regulatory authority question that charge.

  • Curious to see if app revenue goes down, since many of them require bandwidth usage to function. Also, in the case of my Backflip, if AT&Twill still charge high monthly fees for bandwidth heavy apps like Navigator. If I'm paying extra to download maps, I sure as hell ain't paying $10 a month for a GPS app.

  • by francium de neobie (590783) on Friday June 04, 2010 @06:41PM (#32464802)
    When I was in Hong Kong, I just had to pay $51 USD per month [three.com.hk] and they'll give you unlimited 3G data with tethering, tons of voice minutes, wifi access at their hotspots throughout the city, and an legally unlocked iPhone 3GS.

    Now I'm in Palo Alto, that barely buys me a voice plan. And even if I give them 2x what I did in Hong Kong, I'm still capped. And AT&T's reception in cities (like San Fran) sucks - yet it's Hong Kong that has more frickin' high rise buildings to block the 3G signals - and in Hong Kong 3G fucking works. I really, REALLY have no idea how any of you guys can try to defend AT&T over their crap service.
    • by Qzukk (229616)

      I really, REALLY have no idea how any of you guys can try to defend AT&T

      But... but... the population is more dense there so it's cheaper to run the wireless wires because everyone is closer together</defaultbandwidthapologistexcuse>

  • The issue with per-unit data plans is that there's a big difference between my data usage and my electricity usage: who's in control. With electricity I know how much my appliances use every month, and I can control that by controlling my appliances. If my electricity bill's too high, I can elect to turn off lights more or switch to lower-wattage or more-efficient bulbs. I can turn my computer off when I'm not using it. I control how much electricity I use and when, and I have a fairly fine degree of contro

  • I don't trust ISPs. They will generally always place the over-limit to be somewhere around 3-5 days if you are downloading constantly, so it's like a trap. I have always wanted a plan with a slower speed, but no trap... and if they offered plans like that this issue nowadays would be moot. So much for setting up an always-running webcam etc.
  • Back when we ran a small, dialup ISP, we charged everyone the more or less standard $20 per month. Then we did a little number crunching and found that most people used less than 100 hours a month, but there were a handful that were online pretty much 24/7. In at least one case, it was a family that had mom on ebay during the day, the kids gaming until late and then dad on during the wee hours. They complained bitterly when we raised the fee for "unlimited", but calmed down when we explained that it cost us

  • Expensive per MB (Score:4, Interesting)

    by mprindle (198799) on Friday June 04, 2010 @07:12PM (#32465112)

    What really bugs me about the rate changes is how much they are charging per MB when compared to a standard DSL or cable connection at home. Comcast now has a 250GB / 250,000MB data cap and my service runs around $43 per month. So my cost runs around .017 cents per MB assuming I use my full 250GB allotment.

    With AT&T's model the cost per MB on the $15 plan is 7.5 cents per 200 MB and the $25 plan is 1.25 cents per 2,000 MB. This is roughly a 440% and a 73% respective increase of the cost of my home bandwidth.

    Yes I know it's not quite a apple to apple comparison, but the cost of the bandwidth and wireless support can be no where near the prices they are charging. Unfortunately in the states this goes for the biggest two wireless carriers ATT and Verizon.

    I have no problem paying for what I am using, but the pricing of there data is way out of the ball park.

    Note: Yes I know my numbers are not exact and I also know I didn't use the standard 1,024k when doing my calculations from GB to MB.

  • Why is there no content industry trade group which lobbies congress to protect their business.

    This will hurt the bottom line at apple, netflix, hulu, xbox live, PSN, steam, every MMO, and a lot of websites.

    Where is their lobby? Why aren't they up in arms about this proposed attack on their business?

  • by erroneus (253617) on Friday June 04, 2010 @07:26PM (#32465264) Homepage

    People invariably react badly when they read a news story about some industry and containing words like "government" and "scrutiny." I don't because I can appreciate what things would be like without government protection and regulation. Without government protection, there would be no power lines, telephone lines, data lines or protected radio frequencies. Power company pisses someone off and someone decides to take down a few power polls... someone doesn't like what AT&T wireless is doing and then sets out jamming devices to block wireless signals. Government protection is pretty much a requirement for services like these. But government protection comes with rules and regulation. After all, the government should not afford special rights and privileges without those who benefit from them giving something back to "the people" in some way.

    Increasingly, we are seeing a LOT less giving something back to "the people." Increasingly, companies like AT&T whose "right of way" comes from the government of "we the people" abuses the people with all sorts of unreasonable pricing and increases. And then when the government starts looking at what they are doing, both the businesses and people who are pro-business quickly forget where their right-of-way privileges come from and get indignant about government scrutiny, oversight and regulation.

    If anything, we need to use the power of "we the people" to threaten such business with increased regulation and oversight including but not limited to pricing structure regulations and the like. This works quite well for other government regulated business such as electric power. They all have limits over what they can charge and not a single plant has gone bankrupt as a result of government regulation. In fact, in places where deregulation has occurred, prices went up and quality/reliability went down. The people NEED government regulation of such utilities. POTS is considered a utility and so should wireless service these days. Their current limit-pushing behavior is simply screaming for a government slap-down with imposed limits that benefit the people... the people whose government has granted these companies right-of-way protection in order to operate.

  • by Tangential (266113) on Friday June 04, 2010 @08:53PM (#32465904) Homepage
    Admittedly, it would be a very low price per byte, but those that use more would pay more. The price/per byte could also change with the time of day. What if each gigabyte cost $10 for prime time and $5 for off hours. (A few) People that download hundreds of gigabytes would pay a lot more than (most) people who use a a handful of gigabytes.

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